Some research shows that having a strong sense of community may be a factor that has greater health implications than nutrition and exercise.
One of the biggest sources of support for mothers of babies is their network of other mothers. Often this network must be built over time with intention and effort. And for many mothers, this network includes real time friends as well as an online component. These other mothers can be an invaluable source of parenting information and support.
Here are some ideas to consider. Add your own ideas.
- Find groups that meet up regularly, many of which can be joined during pregnancy: free postpartum groups, La Leche League meetings, stroller or babywearing walking groups.
- Take a class during pregnancy: childbirth education, breastfeeding, yoga, etc.
- Reach out to other mothers in your neighborhood and find a walking buddy.
- Connect with local mothers through social media groups.
- Connect with mothers through social media groups that focus on a specific philosophy or parenting practice.
Who are you already connected to?
Who do you want to reach out to?
What are some ways you will build your network?
ASKING FOR HELP
One of the biggest barriers to having the support you need is asking for help. Many people feel honored to be involved in supporting a family of a newborn. Others have been on the receiving end of this type of support and know how valuable it is and are delighted to get to return the favor. And there are some people who don’t understand and won’t participate. Or some that do understand but are unable for various reasons to help.
It is worth asking. Know that there will be so many opportunities in the future to reciprocate this support. It is by giving and receiving that we cultivate community in our lives. The community that you foster when your baby is born may enrich your child’s life. Know that you deserve support beyond the time you are struggling (in “doggy paddle” phase) into when you are feeling more recovered and in the flow
(the “fully swimming phase”).
As much as you can get your partner, close support people, and extended community to understand your [postpartum] plan and why it is needed, the more support you will have.
Here are some ways of asking for help to consider. Add your own ideas.
• Put someone else in charge of asking. If you are planning on having a meal tree, have someone else organize it for you. This person can let people know what you need and when, which takes away the awkwardness of asking for yourself. Someone else can also be in charge of your “kid tree” or your cleaning, or gift registry as well.
• Specific people for specific jobs. Make a list of specific ways that you need help and then think of the right people for each job and ask them individually. Someone comes by to take care of your garden, someone organizes your meal tree, and someone takes your kids on a weekly date.
• Use your shower as an easy way to get people organized and on board. In the process of being invited to your shower or mama blessing, guests can be encouraged to join in on helping. Or once people are gathered can be a wonderful time for a clipboard sign up sheet to be passed around for people to sign-up.
• Gifts. Get specific with what you need. Maybe you really do need some baby supplies and you make a registry for this. Maybe you have your supplies and you ask people to donate their time with bringing meals and cleaning. Or maybe you ask for donations of any amount to go towards your postpartum doula and diaper service.
1) rest, support, and care after birth are essential
2) that this can come about and look so many different ways.
Build Your Nest postpartum planning workbook is a comprehensive resource that supports maternal health by providing critical information and tools for planning for rest, support, and care during the first weeks after birth. It affirms the wisdom of traditional postpartum practices that emphasize deep recovery and bonding. The information it provides can help families address unexpected challenges as they arise. It can be worked through independently by mothers and can be a tool for opening dialogue between mothers, their partners, close family members, and their healthcare team. Photo by Zelda English.
Kestrel Gates wrote the Build Your Nest workbook as a mother who has had her own postpartum experiences, and who has been listening to the struggles and triumphs of other mothers. In the Spring of 2016 she presented her ideas at a birth conference in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where the workbook is available in the Russian language. What she is finding is that there is a nearly universal need for greater focus on the postpartum time. She is honored to be part of a growing cultural movement that honors and celebrates mothers and birthing people.