What do you do to prepare for a baby? You’ll think about the baby’s name, probably the colour of the nursery, disposable or cloth nappies, to breastfeed or bottle feed, or which stroller to buy (omg there’s probably about 1,734,093 of them to choose from!).
But to all pregnant mums, have you thought about what happens to your social life and what kind of support you’ll have after the birth of your baby? Maybe you’re a new mum, you haven’t got friends that have babies yet or you started later than them, or you’ve just moved into your area and you still don’t know anyone yet. Or like me, whose two older kids were nearly teenagers at the time.
When I had my third baby (I had a 10 year gap), I was in a new suburb, and I didn’t really know a lot of other mums in the area. A couple of weeks after the birth of my baby, I was offered to join a mother’s group, organised by the local Child Health nurse. I thought, why the hell not?
The group started with maybe 10 mums. We sat around and listened to the Child Health Nurse, who taught us all about baby stuff (it was a fantastic refresher course for me!), and at the end of each session, we would sit around and chat amongst ourselves, about our families and share our experiences with our own new precious little bubs. After the last session, we all exchanged phone numbers and addresses, hoping that we would start catching up and continue on with our new found friendships.
So our group started off from 10, down to 7, trickled down to 6, one moved states, and the other, she moved house and we sort of lost contact with her. Then it was down to us 5. Me, Krischelle, Holly, Vicki and Ange (who joined our group about 2 years later!).
We try to catch up at least once a month, maybe more often, if we can. We all come from different backgrounds (Krischelle and Ange from Australia, me from Singapore, Holly from the UK and Vicki from South Africa). We celebrate our kids’ birthdays together, host play dates in our homes or we go to the park if the weather is beautiful.
We have very different personalities (I’m the one that swears the most!) but we have one thing in common – Our children. Is that enough? Yes, I think it is. With our different personalities in our group, we bring different opinions, suggestions and ways to support each other. We laugh and cry together. We care about each other, we ask each other hard questions (we kinda got lucky that one of us is a doctor!). Whenever one of us is down, we pick each other up. That’s just how we roll.
It is so important to have a close network of friends who have babies around the same age. It’s not so much about the kids forming lasting friendships (though that would be a bonus), but the bond and friendships that are formed between us mums that is so important.
I’m not sure how I would have survived without the support from my mother’s group (and my hubby’s support too). They have, at times, been my pillars of strength. They were there for me when I suffered the dreaded postnatal blues. Some of us have experienced the passing of a loved one, miscarriages and postnatal depression, but a phone call or a group text to say “Who wants to catch up?” is all we have to do. And the support is instantly there.
So it’s been 4 years, all of us have had our second babies (fourth for me). We are so lucky to have each other, and I am so incredibly grateful to have them in my life.
Remember, if you’re pregnant for the first time, make sure you join a mother’s group once you’ve had your baby. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a good support network around you. Do not isolate yourself from the rest of the world. Having your husband and other family members around you, is sometimes, just not enough.
I’ve heard from some mums who have said they’ve joined mothers’ groups in the past but couldn’t seem to click with them; then this is my advise – try another one. If the next one’s no good, try another one again. At some point, you’ll find someone (or a group) that you can click with.
It’s best to also join a group with an open heart and mind, to expect – and respect – that we all have different personalities. Different personalities can be a positive thing, having different opinions, experiences and insights can be very helpful in seeing things from another person’s perspective. What can we learn from each other? What can we do to lift each other up?
Don’t forget, being in a mothers’ group does not limit you to socialising only with your babies. When the time comes, there’s also opportunities to go out with each other WITHOUT your kids. My group of mums and I have had lunches and dinners together and also much needed girls’ nights out!
“Love love love our group… I am always amazed that we come from different walks of life, our ages ranged from 21-35, and we had nothing in common except we had a baby at the same time in the same neighbourhood… but we have never judged, just always supported, encouraged, cheered and cried together… bam instant village xxx” – Krischelle
“I honestly don’t know how I’d got through hard times without you guys and totally agree and can’t stress enough how important this is.” – Holly
“Having no family support I truly see my mothers group as my primary support lifeline. Women supporting women. As loving and supportive as my husband is he’s just not a woman – he’s from Mars! I couldn’t be the mother that I am without these amazingly supportive, encouraging and strong women.Right place at the right time and now hopefully friends for ever” – Ange
“We have been so blessed with our MG- every time I mention my MG to anyone they have always been so surprised that we are still going strong and stay connected!!” – Vicki
Good luck with the birth of your baby, and I wish you all the very best!