Of course with Thanksgiving on our minds many people take a moment to reflect on the things they are grateful for. Here at Calm & Confident Doula Care, we are grateful for many things. It is an honor to be invited into the sacred space of birthing. Each time I am invited by another family to be a part of their birth or postpartum, I am so grateful for the opportunity to help make that experience of welcoming their child to be as positive as possible. Nearly every birth and postpartum time has unexpected twists and navigating through them while being vulnerable takes great strength and courage.
I am so grateful for what I call “The Mom Network”. (Apologies for the gendered language, with full understanding that many parents do not identify with the title of “Mom”. Throughout today’s post I refer to specific individuals who do identify in this way). These folks have supported me in my own parenting to find treatment for my child’s medical condition when traditional approaches didn’t work. People who were complete strangers reached out to me, knowing the intense heartache one feels when their child hurts but you can’t fix it. I am a better parent from the support of the Mom Network and happy to help others, when I can, in this way myself.
This past week, The Mom Network pulled off quite a beautiful trifecta of support. We had a new mother struggling with milk supply. So much had gone off plan A for this person and now the impossibility of making enough milk was coming in to play as well. Like all new parents, she wanted to provide well for her child and see them thrive. Her struggle was as much emotional as physical. The Mom Network connected her with a milk donor- someone who had so much milk she needed to pump off extra each day. The donor mom was grateful to have an opportunity to help ease another mother’s struggle. It feels good to help people. The Mom Network also connected this new mother to a mom who had similar difficulties and ultimately fully formula fed her babies. This mother was able to help reassure our tender new mother that not only was she not a failure as a parent, but her baby would be fine. The formula feeding mom also had the comfort of knowing she had eased another parent’s pain. The new mother is now eager to pay it forward and support another struggling new parent in some way. We really are all here to help each other through the challenges of parenting.
New parents deserve support. Postpartum is a time when folks NEED their community. We can all help, sometimes just in little ways. Hold the door, give a genuine smile, acknowledge that it’s ok for a baby to cry in public. When you can, give a bit more- a hug, a chance for a nap, a warm healthy meal, the encouragement that they are a good parent for their child. It will be so appreciated.
Often times new community connections must be grown. Sometimes people are so accustomed to not needing support, they are uncomfortable seeking out help ( byproduct of the independent American culture). Connecting to The Mom Network in my early postpartum days helped me to see that I was not alone in my struggles and there were new friends ready to support me. I get teary thinking about just how valuable those “playgroup moms” became to me and how treasured they are now—nearly 18 years later.
Locally—we have a number of ways for new parents to connect both online and in person. Here are a few I suggest:
Little Sprouts New Parent Group: For any parent of a baby 0-6 months. This is a free drop in group held each Tuesday 10-noon at Sprout Birth Center. I helped to start this group in honor of Molly Campbell who gathered the parents of my own mom circle in my early parenting days.
PEPS- Program for Early Parent Support: PEPS parent support programs educate, inform and create community.
Perinatal Support of Washington groups: These groups are generally structured to provide support around the struggles of early parenting. Groups meet all over Washington State.
FOCS- Families of Color Seattle:The FOCS mission is to build a strong community by supporting families of color through equitable parent programs, resource sharing, and fostering meaningful connections.
Embracing the New Normal: Wendy Dean, an experienced group facilitator of many years, facilitates this group. No charge, Thursdays, 1-3pm in Redmond. The website is not sophisticated, but Wendy is wonderful and can help put new parents at ease with her calm and compassion.
Local Facebook Parent Groups- Get on Facebook (it’s not real life, but real people do use it) and search for a new parent or new mom group in your area, or attendant to your specific interests such as ADHD, Attachment Parenting, Baby Wearing, Jewish, Pumping, Breastfeeding, etc. etc. The list is endless. You will find people like you on social media who are wanting to connect!
(Also, take a look at our previous blog post on New Parent Groups)
In many ways our country is experiencing incredibly acrimonious and divisive times. But it doesn’t need to be like this. We can come together, in the understanding that all parents need and deserve support in their community. We are more alike than we are different- all wanting our children to thrive and reach their potential