The second thing out of most people’s mouths after they find out you’re pregnant (after “Congratulations!”) is: “Your life is going to change so much.” Both my husband and I are very aware that our current lifestyle is going to be changing come November, but what I didn’t realize before getting pregnant was how much things would change even before the baby arrives.
What’s surprised me is how being a parent-to-be has already positively impacted my work self. I attended my first prenatal class yesterday, and it made me aware of how things have already changed for me:
1. Exposure to a new pool of people:
Between my work and personal relationships and my husband’s work and personal relationships, I interact with a lot of different people on a daily basis. But, going to the prenatal class yesterday and getting to know the other parents-to-be made me realize just how homogenous my professional and social circles are. The class was made up of about 10 couples, ranging in age from high schoolers to couples in their mid-40s. A number of the moms were born and raised in other countries, coming to the U.S. within the last few years. It was really interesting to meet so many different people and hear about their vastly different personal experiences.
2. Good practice for making decisions and advocating for oneself:
There are a lot of different decisions to consider during the prenatal journey, including big ones such as choosing prenatal education courses, navigating genetic testing and determining how you’d like to labor and deliver. This has been a good exercise in researching and weighing different options, negotiating a compromise with my husband that is respectful of both of our wishes and then advocating for our decisions with health care providers. It’s really sharpened my decision-making, collaboration and advocacy skills.
3. Opportunity to see public health education in action:
We work with a whole host of public health clients and spend a lot of time developing messages and materials to guide healthy behavior. It was a kick to be on the receiving end of these messages during my prenatal class. I was fascinated to observe the way in which the instructor delivered these messages both verbally as well as with printed material, and equally fascinated to see how I and others in the class reacted. The experience reinforced for me the importance of developing simple, direct and specific messages, supporting them with reputable facts and delivering them in an attractive and easy-to-understand design.
Even more important is the skill of the messenger in delivering these messages. As we always emphasize during messaging trainings, knowing your audience is essential. You may be getting the exact same message across, but a single way of delivering it isn’t going to work for everyone. Understanding your audience, especially their points of sensitivity, helps you know what approach will resonate the best.