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Liminal Spaces as a Parent


Liminal space can often be defined as a place a person finds themselves in during a transition. It’s defined as a gap, a space we move through from one state to the next, from one experience to another.

I am very interested in this idea of liminal space and how this relates to the transitions that happen in our lives. Pregnancy, birthing and becoming parents are all transitions and have experiences of liminal states.  The support we feel, the information we gather, knowledge we already have, and the experiences that have come before will influence how we navigate these spaces.

There can be many unknowns navigated during transitions.  Take for example the experience before pregnancy to now being pregnant, the experience of where you are during pregnancy, and then moving towards the experience of birthing.  Things changing all the time from one form to another, one state to another as the body changes, grows, expands, alters and shifts physically and emotionally.   The liminal space in these transitions may be experienced as unsettling, uncomfortable and at times there can be unexpected emotions that arise.

Sometimes it has been described as feeling like there is one’ foot still in’ the way things were, in who we thought we were before, and how our body felt then.  While there is another ‘foot’ advancing or moving towards this new place, this new experience and identity and feeling.  In between there is a ‘not knowing’.  Not knowing what this new place or experience is going to be like and not feeling like we have a brake to sometimes slow it down.  We gather and listen to stories from others of their experience of it, research and read about this new place, but it still feels unknown.

This happens often as a parent where we will find ourselves in this space again and again, navigating the changes as we adapt to this new little person who is constantly changing and growing.  As this infant, baby, toddler, child, pre-teen, teenager, young adult is changing, so too we will change.  We need to change to adapt to their changes.  Changes can be difficult, there can be a struggle, but it can also be joyful, exciting and exhilarating.

Consider for yourself what is your experience of liminal space?   What has this been like for you?  Can you relate to this space of ‘not knowing’?  How have you navigated this in the past?  What supports have you needed during those times?  How do you ask for support? Is this easy to do or something you are still learning to do?

Be kind to yourselves.  It is not easy. You will make mistakes in order to learn.  It is finding those in your life who can offer guidance, hold space, and support you.  We gather them along the way especially as a new parent.  They may a friend, partner, our own parent or other relative, a community we belong to, a GP, counsellor, spiritual mentor or teacher.

Consider what support you may need to ride the waves of these liminal spaces that come again and again.  Consider how to ask others for what you need.  Most importantly be kind and loving to yourselves, patient, and understanding as you are learning.  It is a lifelong journey.

(Sue has spent 30 years working with women and families as a nurse, midwife, and educator and now working as a counsellor supporting new parents.  She is passionate about supporting new mothers and runs groups exploring transitions. www.suepower.com.au ). To BOOK a Calmbirth course with Sue Power go to: https://staging.calmbirth.com.au/educators-profile/?edid=40

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