I didn’t even know much about these mother and baby groups before I had my own baby. The local community/infant health nurse will usually try to get a group of first time Moms/Dads together.
I was most unimpressed when I discovered that my closest “mother’s and baby group” was in what I considered to be a less affluent area than my address indicated. I considered trying to find another Moms group in another area, but basically – never found the time to find a different group.
My first visit there, which required overcoming a great deal of obstacles and stress, made me wonder what I could have in common with this mottly bunch of women (father’s are usually welcome too – most Dads these days know that their input is vitally important to their baby).
It ended up that those Mothers did help save my life – or some of my sanity anyway.
I never thought that I would need help – I was the expert midwife/neonatal nurse (specialized in caring for sick newborn babies) remember, and my friends were all neonatal nurses too.
How wrong I was! Every woman was in the same predicament as myself – each with variations in the amount of support they had. Each woman was doing her best to get through each day, doing the best for her baby, and often they were having to come to terms with things that hadn’t quite turned out like they had hoped they would – things like expectations about childbirth/ being a mother/ being the one responsible for their very unpredictable bundles/ having to keep going when you had had barely two consecutive hours sleep at night – and you had to bravely face a new day – not knowing how things were going to turn out.
The problem I found with my friends, is that they were away at work, and I was at home all alone in the middle of some big dilemma. Mother’s groups (Moms groups) put you in touch with mothers in a similar situation to yourself – you are all going though the same process of learning about your newborn baby, and still trying to live the life you had before, and mostly discovering that a whole day has gone by – and you may not be able to produce any evidence that you have done anything at all that day!
We do let people/partners/relatives etc judge us on what can be measured or achieved – like how many loads of washing have been done, how many meals cooked, how many floors washed etc, how tidy the house is.
These are very superficial values – and have got nothing to do with the real quality of care that your newborn baby is receiving. If everything is spotlessly clean – how much time could have been spent on getting to know and understand your new baby? Don’t fall into the trap of allowing people to judge you by their “pre-children” standards. If they do not have a baby – they can never know what it is all about.
I used to think I was the best Midwife in town – until after I had had my own baby, and then I realised what a disservice I had done to all those new mother’s who had been doing their best to give their baby the best care they knew how. Anyone can care for a baby expertly for an eight hour shift – especially if you have had a sixteen hour break from the baby, which would have included a good six hours of unbroken sleep!
I learnt very soon to “never say never”.
I would watch some mother doing something, and I would say to myself “I would never do that” tut tut.
Well blow me down, but a few weeks later – there I would be in almost the identical situation! You learn very soon not to judge other Moms – they are all doing the best they know how to – it mostly depends on what sort of education and support they themselves have.
What I am saying is: give these Mother and Baby groups a chance – caring for a newborn baby usually means needing help from others – even if it is just trying to drink a cup of tea together – and knowing that they are facing the exact same challenges you may be facing. I don’t think I ever finished a conversation I ever started at the Moms group – you get used to exchanging half-sentences with each other, before some interruption or other occurred. “Normal people” would find this kind of interaction disconcerting – but you got used to it at the Mothers group, and the other mother’s understood that a new baby voicing an opinion needed to be attended to.
You’ll find this has got nothing to do with Intelligence Quotient, or education, or even age – it crosses all barriers.
There may end up being even just one person you may really relate to – but it’s quite good just going through the exercise of getting yourself and your baby ready for an outing – the more you practice – the better you get at doing it – and the Moms usually swap helpful tips. It usually takes a while for the Mums to let their guard down, and you discover that much as this may be the most wonderful thing that has happened in your life, it actually brings along hardship and challenges as well. It’s not just wonderful all the time. It’s good to have a place to express your difficulties and frustrations.
Once you’re back on your feet – so to speak – you may need the support of your Mother and baby group less – all I am saying is: don’t prejudge Moms Groups and give them a go – maybe even try a different group if you really don’t like the first group of Mums you meet. The truth is: all new Mums are basically the same – they may look a little different – that’s all.