With Thursday, September 10th being ‘National Suicide Prevention’ Day, I could not help but to make the connection between motherhood and depression. There is a saying that is touched upon in the book The Womanly Art Of Breastfeeding that jabbed at my heart.
“Tend and befriend” is the saying and more mothers need to keep it in mind. Research has examined stress responses in women, specifically mothers, and noticed a marked pattern that follows this model more consistently than the typical “fight or flight”. Basically, stressed out moms are more likely to engage in caring for their children and seeking out social groups to cope and ward off furthur distress.
If you are a mom to a new baby or are a soon to be mom, it is a great idea to connect with like-minded mothers who can provide the necessary education and community support involved in raising babies. Consider your parenting goals and use that to find a suitable group of mothers to join. While you may already have an established community of friends and family, there is no guarantee they will be able to support your specific needs as a mother and baby unit.
“My mom tells me I spoil the baby and he should start getting in good habits now.” While mom may be doing her best, she may not realize that her advice to not care for your baby is counter productive for the well-being of both of you. Keep mom around as she means well, yet find a tribe of moms who are supportive of your ideas as well. Spread your newfound knowledge to help reinforce your supporters. Remember, her generation was given a lot of poor advice from the trusted medical community that worked against a mother’s natural instincts. No wonder crying it out just feels wrong!
“Exactly why I need to get back to work. I miss being around other adults and having conversations and independence.” While this may be a viable befriending strategy for some new mothers, other mothers take a different route due to even more distress about not being able to tend to the baby all day. This is ok and normal. If it is a financial possibility I would highly recommend remaining as the primary caregiver and finding a community that meshes well with your new family life.
“I have no choice. I need to work to support my family.” Be vigilant as returning to work in the first six months after delivery puts women at increased risk for PPD. Remain close with your baby when home to benefit from mothering hormones and do not feel ashamed to reach out for support.
“My situation is a lot worse than I expected. My depression and anxiety are getting the best of me and my baby would be better off without me.” Reach out today. Motherhood does not have to feel like this and you deserve to be happier. Your baby loves you unconditionally and there are resources to get you through this tough time.
Let’s stop the mommy wars and show community support. We as women all need to feel a sense of belonging and validation. We deserve unity, dignity, and good quality education in our journey through motherhood. We are our best resource in growing a healthy, successful network to raise the next generation. Below are ideas and resources listed for mothers to find that community support.
- La Leche League holds free local, regularly scheduled meetings for breastfeeding mothers. Children play while women conversate.
- Babywearing International also holds free, regularly scheduled meetings for families to mingle and learn.
- Check your local library for storytimes. This is a great, free way to branch out and feel a sense of community that caters to family life.
- Your place of birth most likely has a mother’s support group for families with close delivery dates.
- Facebook and social media. Get onto facebook and enter your favorite key words in. I belong to multiple different and specific online communities such as my local town’s parent group, a lactivist group, vegan moms groups, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, babywearing, and the list goes on. Drop a comment below if you are looking for a specific group and I can help you find it!
- Start your own in-person or online tribe through http://www.meetup.com or Facebook. Be the matriarch and bring the mamas together!
Remember, if your support system is making you feel disconnected, unsupported, or negatively about anything it is in your best interest to find a new one! Just because a mother’s group exists does not automatically mean it will be the right one for you.
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And… Don’t forget to share your brelfies using our HT #BreastfeedingWorld