Why is it so important for new mothers to get support from other mothers? I'd love to hear your opinions on this question, but I'm going to offer several reasons why I think every new mom needs strong peer support.
It Helps the Learning Curve
No doubt about it, becoming a mother definitely entails a pretty significant learning curve. You can take a breastfeeding class, a parenting class, and even an infant health and safety class, but that's no substitute for the on-the-job experience you get once baby is actually here! Being around other mothers who have already been where you are helps in several ways. First, you learn by watching them. You learn what works and what doesn't work. Although every baby is different, you may pick up techniques that will work with your baby. Also, as you develop relationships with other mothers, you build a resource network of people you can go to for advice in various situations. Finally, as your own mothering skills grow, you begin to find that you are able to help other mothers. The sense of well-being you receive from helping someone else may even help you maintain a healthy sense of emotional well-being.
It May Help Alleviate PostPartum Depression
Many women experience a day or two of "Baby Blues," but some women actually enter into a full-blown postpartum depression or PPD. The combination of hormonal changes with new stresses in her life may predispose some women to depression. Participation in a Mom to Mom Support Group may not completely prevent PPD; however, it may help to alleviate some of the symptoms and lead to a quicker recovery. Isolation only makes depression worse; so mothers who interact with other new moms generally have an easier time recovering.
It Helps You Meet Other Women Who Share your Life Circumstances
Finding a Mom to Mom Support group helps you build friendships with other women who are at the very same place in life where you are. If you have a baby before your friends do, you may find that you just don't have as much in common with them after the birth. You might even realize that you long for the company of other women who are also experiencing motherhood. In a Mom to Mom Group, you can meet a variety of women and figure out whom you want to get to know better.
Finding a Group
There are several ways to find a local support group. Depending upon your community, one or more of the following might work for you.
1. Ask other mothers. When you meet another mom, find out if she is part of a group. If you're outgoing, you might even approach other moms in the park or library to begin a conversation.
2. Look at your local community calendar. Do you have a TV news station? How about a local parenting magazine? Usually these media outlets have calendars which list events in the community.
3. Find a La Leche League group. La Leche League is the largest international breastfeeding support program. If you are nursing, you'll receive a wealth of information, encouragement and support from La Leche League. This website will help you locate a local group.
4. Find a MOPS group. MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. This national organization has meetings for mothers of infants through pre-schoolers. You can click here to locate your nearest group.
5. Go to Meetup.com to see if there are any local meetup groups for moms in your area. Possible groups include Mommy Milk Meeup, New and Expectant Parents Meetup and Attachment Parenting Meetup. Most meetup groups have a message board moderated by the organizer where you can give and receive great advice.
If you find that you're having a tough time getting yourself motivated to get out the door with your baby, then that's a sure sign you REALLY need to do just that! So find a way to meet other moms, drop your baby into a sling, and off you go...remember, you're doing this for your own mental health! After all, doesn't your baby deserve the healthiest mom possible?