Mathilde Couture was convinced that she had prepared well for the arrival of her first child. “Pregnant, I read so much, I listened to so many podcasts. I took free training given by organizations. I was ready,” recalls the teacher. However, since she gave birth to little Henri four months ago, nothing has gone as she had imagined. “Mathilde wanted to give birth naturally, in the end it was a caesarean. She wanted to breastfeed, finally, it’s the breast pump. We wanted to try cloth diapers, but, in the end, the baby has eczema and it may not be ideal, ”lists her partner, Louis-David Mercier. What the couple wish they had known before becoming parents? “There’s no point in spending too much time planning everything, because you can’t predict what’s going to happen,” sums up the father.
Psychoeducator Mélanie Bilodeau agrees: “We have no control over anything. No baby is the same,” she says, pointing out that new parents often have unrealistic expectations. For some, getting the facts can take away some anxiety, she notes. But rather than reading all the information available on childbirth or breastfeeding, for example, the author of the book Be Your Baby’s Expert invites future parents to prepare to welcome their baby by reflecting on their strengths and to their challenges as co-parents. “If we know that we already have communication challenges, it may be that after giving birth, with the fatigue and the hormones, it becomes even more of a challenge. […] We can try to find codes and ways of doing things in advance so as not to fall on the tomato, ”she suggests.
According to a survey by the CDEC de Québec published in 2021, the entrepreneurs met in focus groups evoke an emotional charge, “an emotional sacrifice” and a feeling of guilt when it comes time to approach work-family balance. Among the comments collected, a mother said in particular: “When you take care of the child, you do not take care of the business and when you take care of it, you do not see your child growing up. »
It’s a no-brainer: becoming a parent is life-altering. Couple, family, friends, work, “everything changes”, summarizes Mylène Bezeau-Gervais. “But it can change for the better, that’s what I would like to say to future parents,” adds the mother of 13-month-old Emma. The arrival of the little girl notably led her partner, Martin Brais, and her to review the place they gave to work in their daily lives. “We want to take more care of the little one,” the father explains. Outings with friends are also no longer the same. “On Sunday, we saw my best friend and her boyfriend at the municipal swimming pool with our babies. We usually didn’t do that,” Mylène Bezeau-Gervais gives as an example, laughing.
“Parenthood is a change of identity,” confirms psychologist Lory Zephyr. We have different perspectives and thoughts. […] It is in the service of the parent-child relationship to have this psychic reorganization. In vogue for a few years, the term “matrescence”, which can be summarized as “the birth of a mother”, also draws the parallel between motherhood and another period rich in upheavals: adolescence. But unlike the years spent in high school, society realizes less the full extent of the changes brought about by motherhood and fatherhood, according to the psychologist who specializes in maternal mental health. Do new parents generally live well with this reprioritization? “The majority of couples eventually find their bearings,” says Lory Zephyr, adding that certain factors, such as a supportive environment, a good socio-economic situation or the possibility of taking parental leave, facilitate this transition.
“The first big shock I had, says Michelle Camara, mother of a 13-month-old boy, is not finding a doctor to do my son’s first pediatric follow-ups before leaving on the move. It was once in France that I was able to see a pediatrician several times in the end. We also went to West Africa, where he was very sick. And then even there, it was easier for me to see a pediatrician than in Quebec. I was a little helpless. I needed to have my child followed up, to know if everything was going well. It is true that these are things that we read, but living it is something else. For me, it was really a shock. »
According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, a baby should see a doctor at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years, and then once a year until age 5.