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Pregnancy: Preparing the Inner Space for Parenting

by Andrea Danneker, M.A.

photo: robyn s. russell

Pregnancy:  Preparing the Inner Space for Parenting

By Andrea Danneker, M.A.

Becoming a parent, where two become three or sometimes more, invites a myriad of things, doesn’t it?   Mama’s belly grows round, relationships change, imaginations run deep, hearts fill with wonder and awe, and, of course, a special nest is made for the much anticipated homecoming.  Who will this person be?  What will she look like?  How will it feel to be his mom or dad?   What will her big brother think?  How will things change?  As new parents, we learn on the job, as we go.  So much is unknown yet we embark on the journey of parenting with great optimism and hope.  And of course, we try, as best we can, to be prepared. 

When I was pregnant with my first child, like most new moms, I went to my scheduled prenatal visits, took a birthing class with my husband and, as expected, headed off to register for all the baby “must haves.”  I already had the mindset that I wanted to keep things simple and not fill every nook and cranny of our house with baby stuff, but there were a few basic things we “needed”…or so I thought.  There we were at the front of the store, excited and eager, waiting to begin, when we were handed a four page list (yes, 4!) of “must haves” for the baby…just to get us started.  Gasping for air, I wondered, how could one little baby “need” so much stuff?  It was ridiculous and quite honestly, overwhelming.  I felt an immediate sense of inadequacy – a feeling I didn't expect while "registering".  Of course, the truth is, a child doesn’t need that much stuff (we can look at this issue another time), but what really concerns me is the message sent to parents these days, as subtle as it may be. 

As expecting parents – during a time when we are feeling the most excitement and appreciation for our new arrival – the message sent is “You are not enough for your child and what your child really “needs” is lots of stuff and things to do (to stimulate their brain, earlier and faster!).”  Trust me; nothing could be further from the truth.   Don’t get me wrong, I agree that there are a few basic items that a baby will need; something to eat, a safe place to sleep and play, some clothes and warm blankets preferably made of natural fibers, and a few choice toys.  But the care of a newborn, a child, and even a teenager, requires something other than stuff.  Parenting requires an inner space – our soul space – where genuine care for another, parental intuition, and authentic availability can be found.  Parenting requires us to slow down, to notice, and to trust – trust in our own instincts as parents and trust in our child’s own developmental pace. 

Prior to getting pregnant, we may have been living our lives in a constant state of doing, in a relatively unconscious, achievement driven manner.  And while the approaching birth continually pulls our thoughts and imaginations toward the future, the natural inward focus of pregnancy draws us more and more into the miracle of what is happening in the now.  We slow down.  We notice.  We become in tune with our thoughts, our feelings, our body, and our baby.  We are in – maybe for the first time – the present moment.  If we ignore these changes during pregnancy and push on with life as usual, we may not only miss out on a rich opportunity to experience the world in a different, slower, and conscious way, but we may skip over the groundwork for parenting that nature has so brilliantly provided for us – a chance to experience what it is like have our mind, our heart, and our body, all together in the same place at the same time.  This is what our children will need.  They need us to slow down enough to notice and accept the full range of our experience and work with it as best we can. 

The less we have, the less we do, the less we watch, the simpler our life will be.  With simplicity, we create more inner space, both for ourselves and for our children, which deepens our capacity to connect and enjoy one another.  So much of the world today overwhelms our inner world as well as our child’s.  It swallows up the very nature of who we are, our sense of self.  It trains us to look outside ourselves for refuge and strength.  Kim Payne points out in his popular book, “Simplicity Parenting”, that since the pressures and busyness of life today are so universal, we are “adjusting” at a neck breaking pace.  It has become the new normal.  “If the water we are swimming in continues to heat up, and we simply adjust as it heats, how will we know to hop out before we boil?” asks Payne.

Parenting is a calling.  It calls us to recreate our world so that we may connect to another human being on a very deep level.  It is in actuality nothing less than a rigorous spiritual practice.  Parenting asks us to find and express what is most nourishing, most caring, and most wise in ourselves – to be, as much as we can, our best selves.

And all of this is growing inside of Mama’s belly, right now.

Andrea Danneker, M.A., Simplicity Parenting Coach, helps families design and implement the changes they’d like to make in their home life and family interactions.  To inquire about current Simplicity Parenting workshop or to invite Andrea to speak contact her at and visit


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