How a Mothers' Group Can Help You
Robin Bonner was seven months pregnant with her first child when she and her husband moved from Cambridge, United Kingdom to Cambridge, Mass. Isolated and on the brink of motherhood, Bonner says she knew she wanted — and would need — a support network once her baby was born, but she wasn't quite sure where to look.
Mothers to the rescue. Directed by an informational flier, Bonner, 34 at the time, found a mothers' group through the medical department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where her husband is a post-doctoral fellow. To this day — more than three years and two babies later — she's glad she made the effort. "The women in my group were pretty much my first friends in the Boston area," Bonner says. "A mothers' group is a great way to relieve your anxieties."
"We hope people bond with each other when they meet in class," says Becky Sarah, a childbirth education coordinator of the New Mom's Group at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Mass.
The group was established in 1999 to meet the specific needs of new moms and to help answer their myriad questions: How can I get some sleep? Is my newborn's behavior normal? I used to work — now, how can I entertain myself all day at home?
Wondering how popular mothers' groups are? According to a recent survey, 37 percent of BabyCenter moms belong to a mothers' group. And the groups are fairly large — 52 percent said their group has 10 or more women in it.
Finding a group that's right for you
When it comes to finding a mothers' group in your community, a lot depends on where you live. In some cities, facilitators organize groups and advertise them in local newspapers or parenting publications. In other places you'll have to actively seek out a group. In addition to checking with your local hospital, you can try childcare cooperatives, universities, libraries, churches, synagogues, or other religious or community organizations.
But according to Bonner, the best advice is to be bold and speak up: "Talk to other moms, because the way you hear about kids' stuff is through the grapevine." Go up to other moms at the playground or in the grocery store and ask them if they know of any good mothers' groups.
Hospitals can be a great resource, too. That's where Laine Ehmann hooked up with a group for first-time mothers and, ultimately, made some new friends.
Ehmann, 32, delivered her first child at Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Calif. She says the hospital caters to new mothers with its strong postpartum support network, which also includes breastfeeding information. What its new moms' group lacked in intimacy it made up for in bringing together like-minded women.
"The sessions were huge, but a group of us kind of bonded and then would meet weekly at our homes for smaller playgroups," says Ehmann.
The Web can be a good resource for finding moms' groups, too. Mary James' is involved with a site called International Moms Club, which caters specifically to at-home moms, whether first-timers or experienced, to help them connect with other women going through similar experiences.
James, who has two teenage daughters, began the Moms Club in Simi Valley, Calif., and says that today the club has more than 50,000 members in more than 1,000 chapters nationwide, as well as in Europe and Africa. Though information about the Moms Club network is largely disseminated via the Web, many women find out about the groups' events in local newspapers.
"I needed a group like this and got tired of waiting for someone else to start one!" James says. "Many women find specific support for at-home mothers the biggest benefit to joining. The new mothers learn from the experienced moms and the experienced moms often have second or third children the same age as the newer moms," she says.
If you have special needs or concerns, try contacting organizations that cater to your situation, whether you're parenting multiples, suffering from postpartum depression, raising a child on your own, caring for a preemie, etc., these groups may be able to refer you to a specialized mothers' group.
Once you have a list of groups you're interested in, the only foolproof way to make your final decision is to start visiting them. You'll know in an hour whether you feel connected to the women or not.
If you can't find the perfect group, start your own
Most mothers' groups meet weekdays during the day. That's fine if you're on maternity leave, a stay-at-home mom, or even a part-time worker, but full-time working moms can't usually meet at those times. If you're having trouble finding a group that meets evenings or weekends, don't give up. Keep asking around, and if that doesn't work, consider starting your own group. If you work in a large organization, you might even be able to set up a mothers' group with some of your co-workers.
After Lisa Eppler, 27, gave birth to her daughter, she turned to the Web to find a group for new moms. Eppler, a full-time administrative assistant for the Texas Department of Health in Austin, searched for local groups that met on weeknights and weekends. But she found only groups that got together on weekdays, during the day. "Which got me a little irritated," she says. So she decided to start her own group that would cater to new and experienced moms with a similar schedule — and a love of books.
Eppler attracted members by putting information about her group, the South Austin Moms Book Club, on a local Web site. She also used the site to post meeting times and places. "The group started off with some wonderful fiction that we thoroughly enjoyed reading. It was also a great opportunity for us to talk about our families and things we enjoy," she says.
Don't forget the Web — an online group might be just the ticket
If you can't find like-minded mothers where you live, or you just enjoy getting support and advice from others online, try a Web-based community like the one we've created at BabyCenter. You can join a birth club, organized by your baby's birth date, so you can hook up with other moms who have babies the same age as yours, or go to one of our local groups (organized by state and world region) to meet moms in your geographic area. Many of the mothers who've met on our site and live near each other have gone on to form groups in the "real world."
Content provided with permission from Babycenter LLC
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This content was last modified on: 03/21/2017