This Mama says "Go To The Groups!"
When I was pregnant a couple of people mentioned to me about attending “Mam And Baby Groups”. I was always a very social person so I kind of took the information with a pinch of salt. It was always in the back of my mind though. When my son was born people began to mention it again. Naturally there was a huge influx of visitors, help and attention in those first few weeks but eventually things settled down. Before I knew it my partner was back at work and I was home alone with a tiny newborn. I don't think I ever anticipated that loneliness would come with this environment.
I adored being home with my son. Our days where filled with constant snuggles, cups of tea (for me not him....) and trying to fit in the odd clothes wash and a dinner that could be put together in a few minutes. I cherish those memories now as it was such a special time. I definitely felt lonely at times though. I know this is something a lot of mothers experience and it's important that women know that this is a very normal feeling. Having a baby is a massive life change and at times it can feel as though nobody can relate to you. You doubt yourself and you can sometimes feel as though you have lost yourself during the transition from woman to mother.
This is where the mother and baby groups come in. I had no idea that there was such a huge number of these dotted around Ireland. Some are run by the likes of Cuidui where designated times and days of the week are given to breastfeeding support or toddler playgroups (among other things). Others are ran by your local parish hall or church. In fact many women are simply creating them together now. When I lived in Crumlin myself and a friend set up a Facebook page to reach out to other Dublin 12 mothers. We interacted on the Facebook group and eventually met up one sunny day at the park for a walk and a chat. It was a really lovely experience.
Attending these groups gave my day a bit of purpose first and foremost. When you have a newborn it can be difficult to know where to start each day. Having somewhere to go meant that my day had some structure. I had a reason to get up, pack up and dress myself for the day. The best part of all was the social interaction. Being in a room with other mothers who could happily have a discussion amidst the sound of babies crying, laughing, and hiccuping was such a joy. You never felt as though your baby was disturbing anyone.
These groups usually have a “tea or coffee” element also. This is something I found myself looking forward to more than anything. A hot cup of coffee and a biscuit felt like a bit of me-time in the middle of the day. It was glorious.
To this day I have remained really good friends with some of the mothers that I met at these baby groups. We have build lifelong friendships and we support each other through the good, the bad and the ugly parts of parenting. That feeling of support from someone who can relate to you is something you cannot put a price on.
My son is almost 22 months now and for a couple of weeks we didn't attend any playgroups. Last week we went to one ran by Cuidiu and it really highlighted just how much I had missed that feeling. It just goes to show you that no matter what age your baby is we could all do with that experience on some level. It's all about support.
Are you pregnant? Now is the time to do the research. Google should help you find some local baby groups, playgroups and support groups. There are also lots of other options such as attending a baby massage course or swimming lessons. It will make you feel part of a community which is really important during this big transition in your life.
Check out her own blog at love-of-living.blogspot.ie