One of the best ways for new mothers to transition into motherhood is by leaning on her local community. Read on to learn the benefits of support groups.
Bringing a new baby into the world is incredibly exciting yet challenging. It can be isolating, joyous, life-changing, and all-consuming. Turning to your community of other new moms is a great way to navigate these feelings and wade the waters of motherhood.
Let’s discuss the many benefits of support groups to help shed light on managing these changes.
How Do Support Groups Work?
Support groups work by allowing people to come together and discuss a common issue. It’s a safe space where people can share thoughts, feelings, and experiences with others who are facing the same challenges.
There’s often a facilitator who facilitates the discussion and helps guide the group along. Support groups can be found for nearly any topic and are often divided by topic/topic, group type, and/or location. You can often find support groups in hospitals, clinics, and/or community centers.
In Person Support Groups
In person support groups are the most traditional style of support groups. They often meet in a central location and run like a “class” of sorts. The topics of in person support groups are vast. If you are looking for an in person support group you can visit your local hospital or health center to see what is offered in your area.
Some common groups offered in person are: New parent/Mother groups, Postpartum anxiety/depression groups, Eating disorder groups, Family support groups, Religious support groups, LGBTQIA+ support groups, Men’s support groups, Peer support groups (often for addiction), and Survivors of trauma groups.
Online Support Groups
Online support groups are gaining popularity as they provide the benefits of in person support groups from the comfort and privacy of home. Many online support groups are moderated by trained therapists or professionals in the field. The topics of online groups are generally the same as in person groups. One of the biggest downsides of online support groups is that you don’t have the same level of connection and support that you do in an in person group. On the flip side, one of the biggest benefits of online support groups is that they’re accessible regardless of where you live.
How to Find the Right Group for You
When you’re ready to start looking for a support group, there are a few questions you could ask yourself to help you find the right group for you. What topics are you interested in? What are your biggest challenges?
What are your triggers/what are you looking to avoid? What are your availability? Would you prefer an in person or online group? You don’t have to join multiple groups if one is enough to meet your needs. If you join multiple groups, you risk feeling overwhelmed and not getting the support you need from any of them. You should also be mindful of the “fitting in” process.
While joining a group is a great way to get support, it can also be challenging to “break in” and feel like you truly belong.
Feeding Support and Guidance
A significant struggle for many new mothers is deciding how to feed their babies and receive unconditional support around these decisions. A formula mom will experience backlash. A breastfeeding mom will feel isolated; it’s a tough mountain to climb.
Regular trips to local support groups can help new mothers walk this journey with guidance and respect for their choices. Support groups are open-floor, venting-approved, which can make or break a mother’s feelings about her feeding journey. Promoting breastfeeding within the community often starts with these groups and significantly impacts how new mothers navigate their lactation experiences.
Combat Postpartum Depression
Many new mothers experience postpartum depression. After pregnancy, your hormones readjust. Life recently changed dramatically. Usually, mothers feel like they are the only ones working hard.
This is the perfect opportunity to lean on the support groups in the community. Encourage social interaction and feel less alone. While it can’t stop depression completely, it can make it easier to manage and decrease its severity.
Supportive Parenting Advice
With the massive wave of social media influencers, it can be challenging to muddle through all the parenting advice and suggestions.
Through attending a regular support group, mothers can gain the advice of other mothers on a similar journey based on the child’s age and build a layer of trust with repeated faces. Being a new mom generates many struggles. Having a place to go to face these trials is safe and effective.
Feedback on Parenting Tips and Hacks
There is a lot of information regarding parenting tips and hacks. A hack won’t work for everyone. Most hacks relate to specific circumstances. When mothers offer notes on what works or doesn’t work for them, it can help guide mothers down similar paths to find their own working system.
Some common hacks new mothers seek include:
- Sleep training hacks
- Baby-led weaning tips
- Bottle cleaning techniques
- Laundry or wardrobe hacks
- Money saving tips
Future Play Dates for the Children
After attending enough support group sessions, new mothers find that the children have now been around each other long enough to encourage play dates.
Not only is this developmentally beneficial to the growing baby, but play dates provide mothers with an extended support system in new settings. Places such as parks, zoos, exhibits, and kid-friendly restaurants all work great for fostering social connections for all parties.
It’s worth investigating your local area to seek a support group if you feel these things resonate with you. If you’re pregnant or planning to be, consider filling your postpartum toolbox with these tips to help guide you as you enter motherhood. The worst that can happen is you feel more supported than ever before!
Improvement On Mental Health
There’s a wide body of evidence to suggest that support groups can improve mental health by providing social support. The connection and empathy that comes with being in a group of people is incredibly powerful. There’s also evidence that suggests that being part of a support group can reduce feelings of loneliness.
If you are feeling down, stressed, or otherwise have a mental health issue, joining a support group can help to improve your mental health. There are also certain groups that focus on mental health recovery. These groups tend to focus on topics like anxiety, depression, and eating disorders.
Being part of a group focused on mental health improvement can be incredibly helpful for managing these issues and improving your mental health overall. There’s also evidence to suggest that support groups can reduce feelings of loneliness (which can be helpful for mental health).
Being part of a support group can be incredibly helpful in managing mental health issues. You can also help someone else in the group by sharing your story and being there for others. Joining a support group can be a great way to meet new people, get support, and learn more about yourself. It can also be a great way to take some baby steps into the world of therapy.