Here in Australia our local councils and maternal health centres set up Mother’s Groups. Before I had my first baby, this was me I have so many mates with babies. Why would I want to hang with strangers?
Two and a half years later, this is me now Oh my god I love my mother’s group. Thank God for my mothers group. When can we hang out. These women are my heros.
The special thing about mother’s group is this - every mum is at the exact same stage as you and your baby. Exactly the same. These mothers are doing exactly what you are - it feels so good to be listened to and these other mamas just want to see you succeed. Motherhood is a steep learning curve, and these women have your back.
Mother Groups are recommend by heath professionals because they establish a peer support group. You know, like when you start high school? But with all the poo, milk, boobs, stitches and coffee.
A risk factor in post natal anxiety and depression is social isolation. Sometimes it is hard to feel confident getting out as a new mama, so mother’s groups are a safe place to do so. Where else can you be in a room with a group of grown women who have not showered for the day?
Usually mums are grouped by geographical location which means you can develop a great neighbourhood support group. This means play dates, park dates, shared food and lovely meet ups down the street or at the local park. It makes your neighbourhood smaller in a really lovely way. Another family in our group has two small businesses which means late nights for their Dad too. We’ve been known to do a Friday afternoon play date, feed the kids together, bath them together, get them ready in PJs and we stand at our front fence and wave them goodnight as they trot down the street and into their own bed.
Mother’s Group goes a long way to building that village it takes to raise a child.
We have regular mama play dates. There is nothing like putting on real clothes and going out for dinner with your mother’s group ladies. Warning - a group of mums out on the town can get a bit out of control as I learned from our first outing. My sister-in-law has a child in her twenties, and her mothers group ladies still catch up regularly. The nature of their catch ups have changed - they did a week long child free hike in Tasmania last year!
And Mother’s Group isn’t just about the mamas. Babies get a regular socialisation, they get to share their developmental skills with the other babies. So it is win-win, good for mental and physical health for mamas and babes.
- it is important to make sure your mother's group facilitator sets good ground rules for respectful and inclusive behaviour. The council provided leader should really set the tone, if you don't feel comfortable please make your feelings known to your council.
-Set up a “what’s app” or group messaging app with your group as soon as possible. It is handy to check in with your group for tips that work for their babies.
-If you’re planning on going to any “mums and bubs” classes, organise this with your mother’s group. My amazing gym set up our own baby friendly class for our group. We followed our post natal class by then bombarding cafe next door with prams and sleeping babies whilst we ate in our active wear.
-If you can’t made the set mother’s group catch up time, ask the group to meet at a park on other days. Our group met on a Monday morning but often at other times during the week at a park for plays.
-Now our first babies are almost three, we do regular dinners at someone's home. It caters for all needs.