Support. Support. Support. That old chestnut!
Many women will jump at the opportunity to help out another mother, whether that be settling the bub or cooking the family dinner. Yet why is it when the roles are reversed we ourselves don’t ask for help?
Is it that some women think support is under rated, that it isn’t that important? The research suggests that women who have limited support during pregnancy and postpartum will have a higher likelihood of developing postnatal depression compared to women who have sufficient support (Gelabert, et al. 2012). And women who actively seek support are also less likely to develop depression than women who need support but don’t seek it (Xie, He, Koszycki, Walker, & Wen, 2009). So yes, it is important!! Postnatal depression is very serious and with support, the likelihood of developing it is reduced.
Social support is hugely important to me, as I found out when I had none. We moved to Canberra a few years ago and knew no one. And as Canberrans can be quite clicky, it was difficult to infiltrate a social network. It was unsurprising then, that when I fell pregnant I only had one friend that was having a baby at the same time. This meant I had very little local support during my pregnancy. I had basically no one to share pregnancy stories with, and no one to express my worries with about the birth. After the baby was born, I didn’t have many people to talk to that understood what it was like and how you feel after going through such a substantial life changing experience.
That is until I registered for the Community mother’s group and formed a small social support network.
So now, as well as talking to my hubby and mum (who lives interstate) and who both play a fundamental role in my sanity, I talk to my Canberra community mother’s group..
Let me tell you a bit about them.
We are only a small group. We originally started out with about 12 mothers. But once we left the community centre where the group was organised and run from, we decided to continue to meet up regularly. Now we have about eight mothers, but with a smaller group who catch up more regularly.
We all live within about 5kms of each other. This is so great. I bump into them out walking and shopping and once a week we arrange to meet at a local coffee shop for a catch up.
We trade secrets. We always talk about something that has worked for us during the week. For example, a fellow mummy said she always pulls the plug out of the bath with the baby still in the bath to get into the habit of not leaving a pool of water where the baby will be. This is particularly important for water safety now her bubby is on the move! I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet, but my little one will soon be on the move too, and you can never be too careful about water safety. Plus, I have learnt the best tips about travelling with a baby, where to enroll in childcare and the best child friendly cafes.
We learn about our community. As our group of mummies are from a variety of backgrounds, I have learnt all about the difference between childcare, pre-school and kindergarten from a mother who works as a teacher, and the best suburbs to raise a family from someone who has recently moved house. While the group was still being run at the community centre we had guest speakers from a physio, Kids Safe and Playgroups ACT. We now know how to look after our recovering bodies, how to make our homes and cars kids safe, and what we need to do if we want to create our own, or join, a local playgroup.
We all have bubs the same age. Whatever one mum is going through, the other mums will likely be going through too. From this I have learnt that the range of ‘normal’ development for babies is huge! One of the babies had a tooth at three months, another one crawled at four months and another has only just mastered sitting up on their own at six months. But all is a ‘normal’ part of development.
We attend kids groups together. Most weeks we arrange to go to the local library for Giggle and Wiggle where our babies can interact by singing, dancing and clapping with other babies. Plus parents can learn new nursery rhymes when you’ve had enough of reciting Incy Wincy Spider 800 times.
There is no pressure. One of the things I love about this group is there is no pressure. You don’t have to meet every week for a coffee. You don’t have to come wearing your Sunday finest and you don’t even have to come wearing makeup. In fact, you don’t have to meet up at all if you don’t want to, you can just seek advice from our private Facebook group. There is no pressure and there is no judgement.
We support one another. But by far the best thing about this group is that we support one another. With this group, you don’t feel like you’re going through the parenting journey alone, and you don’t feel like you’re the only one experiencing the difficult times. At the moment we are supporting a fellow mum who has returned to work. We will all be in the same boat soon!
So if you have recently given birth in Canberra then you have the opportunity to register with one of these groups. I strongly encourage you to do it.
Canberra can be so isolating, particularly for new mother’s. Don’t forget, when I first moved here I knew no one. Not a soul. But now I have a small group of mothers who I share all the fun times with and all the hard times with.
Please share your experiences with mother’s groups?
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Gelabert, E., Subira, S., Garcia-Esteve, L., Navarro, P., Plaza, A., Cuyas, E., . . . Martin-Santos, R. (2012). Perfectionism dimensions in major postpartum depression. Journal of Affective Disorder, 136, 17-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.08.030
Xie, R. H., He, G., Koszycki, D., Walker, M., & Wen, S. W. (2009). Prenatal social support, postnatal social support, and postpartum depression. Annals of Epidemiology, 19, 637-643. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2009.03.008
Postnatal Depression Research
Are you interested in helping researchers learn more about postnatal depression, perfectionism and control during childbirth? If you answered yes, please follow the link to the online questionnaire. You do not need to have postnatal depression to participate, but you do need to be over 18 years of age and not over six months postpartum http://tinyurl.com/noysxnv.