7 Reasons you should join a Mums and Babies Groups
I hadn’t heard too much about mums and babies groups before I was pregnant myself. I was aware that some of my mummy friends had made other mummy friends very quickly somehow after they had their babies but I didn’t know where they had found them from. I think I imagined they must bump prams in the street and just hit it off. This can happen too I guess!
When I was pregnant with Miss M, I was told by many parenting friends and my midwives to find out about my local mums and babies group and to join as soon as I got the chance. I’d be able to find out about them from my local health nurse who I should get in touch with after I’d given birth.
I never really asked why I should join the group but I did intend to do so because I didn’t have many local friends with kids, Mr M would be back at work after a week and I thought it might be nice to have some local mums to meet up with.
Miss M arrived, sleep deprivation set in and chaos ensued. Big time.
The first few weeks of Miss M’s life were quite crazy. She slept very little and cried a lot. She had jaundice and then reflux, had to be carried upright constantly and after the blood loss I had suffered during her birth, I was physically and mentally exhausted. Very happy but exhausted.
The community midwives visited me for the first week or so everyday at home and were a wonderful support, very reassuring and it was comforting to have them come over. I hadn’t quite bargained for how isolated you feel after having a baby, especially as I was living in Australia and my mum was in the UK.
We didn’t have many friends locally and spending every day with Miss M, although wonderful, was quite lonely at times. I especially struggled with the lack of sleep and the cluelessness that came with being a first time mum.
The day came for my local nurse to come and visit to see how I was doing post-partum and how Miss M was doing in her first month or so. I was desperately looking forward to her visit – someone to let me know professionally how I was doing, to reassure me, to answer my million questions. I was literally on edge with excitement about it all day.
The nurse called to postpone the meeting until later in the day as she had been delayed. That was fine. I paced the house, baby in sling. And I waited. And waited. She was late, later than she said she would be. Anxiety got the better of me.
The nurse finally arrived and I let her in and cried. Sobbed, like a baby. I’d bottled so much up and I’d gotten myself so excited about her visit that it just got the better of me. She was so lovely, waited patiently for me to calm down whilst between sobs I tried to blub “I’m ok, really” and “I’m just really happy you’re here!”. She must have thought me nothing less than a weirdo!
I pulled myself together and explained myself and she was so reassuring and lovely. She checked over me and Miss M, constantly telling me what a lovely baby she was, what a great job I was doing and answering my many, many questions and at the end of the session, I could have kissed her. She gave me some tips on how to get Miss M to sleep – something she just would not seem to do and before she left she even talked me through how to wrap her differently and put her down. She slept! She actually slept.
Before the nurse left, she made another appointment to come and see me a couple of weeks later and it was then she told me more about the local mum’s group. She gave me the number to call to arrange to join and I finally got my act together and joined up. My group was meeting at our local community centre about a 15 minute walk away the following week.
I didn’t really know what to expect from the meeting apart from getting to meet some other new mums who lived locally. The group would be led by one of the community nurses and would be once a week for 4 weeks.
On the day of meeting up, I arrived early. I had gotten Miss M to sleep in the sling on the way – bonus! Of course by the time the meeting actually started she was awake and in full stereo.
Eight other mums arrived with their babies. Some looked a little tired, some looked a little stressed, no-one seemed to look like the utter mess I felt inside! We sat in a circle and introduced ourselves and it was nice to hear that everyone lived very close by, in walking distance.
What amazed me more was that every single one of them said they were struggling in some way. I wasn’t alone. Some had breastfeeding issues, some (all) were getting no sleep, some had no family nearby too, there were so many struggles that they were going through that I was too. And they were going through them now, at the same time as me.
It was a little like a revelation – one that I completely didn’t expect and all of a sudden, I wasn’t alone any more, I wasn’t isolated. I just desperately knew that I needed these girls in my life! It was particularly reassuring that some of their babies cried too!
Over the next 11 months, I met up with the girls once or twice a week, sometimes we all made it and other times just a few. We also introduced our respective partners and we got to know each other so well. Even now, since I moved back to the UK a year ago, we still speak regularly, sharing our concerns, laughs, fears, tips and stories of how our little ones are developing and growing up.
The absolute brilliance of mothers groups and the positive impact these girls have had on my life and how I have managed to raise Miss M has led me to constantly promote joining to other new mums and I wanted to share the reasons why with you:
1. Support, Support, Support
As I talked about earlier, I was without family nearby and all of my friends were at work while I was on maternity leave. I hadn’t bargained for how isolated I would feel being on my own so much in those first few weeks. Dr Google became my best friend for a long time!
It was wonderful to have a network of other new mums who I could meet/call/text/email with my (numerous) parenting questions. There was always someone who would reply quickly without me having to wait until they went on lunch or finished work.
2. Local Friends
I was without a car and reliant on public transport after I had Mini so getting to other friend’s houses wasn’t too easy in the first few months. Having local mummy friends who lived up the road was wonderful. We could meet at local cafes and parks and pop round to each other’s houses so easily. Walking to meet them also encouraged me to get into the fresh air and exercise and I got to know my local neighbourhood so much more.
3. Empathetic Friends
I already had some friends who were parents and who had been amazing at supporting me and giving me advice but there’s nothing quite like discussing your parenting concerns with mums who are going through the same issues at the same time. I have already forgotten about so many things from the early days of motherhood and I can’t recommend highly enough how great it is to have other new mum friends to discuss concerns with, especially those who are first time mums too. I hear myself now advising new mum friends on things and telling them to ‘do this’ and ‘try that’ as if being a mum is easy – I just forget how hard it is in the beginning.
4. Friends for your Minis
Miss M loved her new baby friends and has since always been fascinated with other babies. I really think her being around so many other babies from such an early age has helped her to be the friendly and social little person she is today. Watching the babies in the group grow up together and start to recognise and connect with each other was just lovely. When Miss M started daycare locally, 2 of her ‘friends’ from the group started too and it was so lovely that they has each other there – besties. As mums it was also so reassuring that we could let each other know how each other’s baby was going when we dropped off and picked up our own. So supportive – we were a daycare team!
I’m quite an open person. By that, I mean I over share – my friends and family will testify to this. That said though, there are some things you just don’t want to share with all of your friends all of the time – they might be embarrassing issues, too personal or perhaps you just don’t want to let your guard down or admit you don’t know what you’re doing. At mums’ group, no topic was off-limits and we discussed everything from sleep deprivation, who had gotten their period back, how weight loss was going, who had braved The Sex. We discussed everything!
6. Increasing your Parenting Social Circle
A lot of our socialising pre-Miss M was after 7pm – nights out, restaurants, karaoke (oh how I miss karaoke) and clubs. Difficult for new parents. Luckily in Australia a lot of social events also are set outside in the day time – lots of picnics, BBQs, parks etc but it was wonderful to have more friends locally who also had children. They understood when we turned up late or had to cancel, they forgave our crying baby, they also had spare nappies/wipes/clothes on hand if we ever needed them! Our non-parenting friends have always been a wonderful support network too but it was great to make so many other new friends who were in the same boat as us.
7. Getting out of the House
For the first week of Miss M’s life, I didn’t even go downstairs, let alone leave the house! Well there wasn’t any need to really. I found having a weekly meet up brilliant – something to really look forward to and a great excuse to get up, get dressed properly, get out of the house and into the fresh air. It kick-started me to make it my mission to leave the house every single day and I started walking Miss M or wearing her in the sling for a walk in the sunshine daily. I like routine anyway and it quickly transpired that she did too so it worked well for both of us, especially as I timed my walks with one of her naps.
I know not all mums will have the same experience as me and a couple of other mums I knew didn’t bond with their local group at all but for me, it’s really worth going along to see what you think. You could literally do as I did and (hopefully!) meet lifelong friends. I absolutely treasure the relationships I have with my mums group and I hope the girls and their minis will be in mine and Miss M’s lives forever.
Did you join your local mothers group? Was it a good experience? Or not? Do you have any recommendations for how new mums can get support and make friends?