It Takes A Village
We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child. Traditionally this would have literally been the people living around you – family, neighbours, people you have known your whole life. People wouldn’t move far (maybe the next street!) The community you grew up in was the community that supported you when you had a baby, regardless of whether you attended baby groups. These days we’re considered lucky if we have family living nearby. We move away for university, for jobs, for love (or our friends & family do), and we find ourselves alone.
Social media is wonderful for keeping us connected, but what we really need postnatally is a support network. People nearby who can grab us a pint of milk when it’s all we can do to keep our eyes open, and leaving the house isn’t an option. We want someone who’ll look after our little ones for half an hour while we pop to the doctor’s. Someone who will meet us for a cuppa and a hug when caffeine is all that is keeping us going. And someone who will be at the end of the phone whenever we need to offload, need advice or support or just need another adult to talk to.
When we have children our friendship groups change and adapt. Some people are lucky enough to have babies at the same time as their friends, but that’s a rarity. For most people it’s a matter of making new friends – something we probably haven’t done since school or university, and the concept can be terrifying! You can’t just walk up to another mum and say “I see we both have babies, shall we be friends?”, and this is where pregnancy and baby classes come in to their own.
When I had my first baby 11 years ago in Portsmouth there weren’t many groups to go to. The Health Visitors ran a new mums group, there was a breastfeeding support group, and a couple of singing groups. Fast-forward to now and you could fill every morning and afternoon with a group if you wanted to. Whether it’s baby signing, baby massage or yoga, messy playgroups, mummy fitness groups, baby wearing drop-ins or baby swimming, there’s something for everyone. With the rise of the baby group comes the increased opportunity to make friends and build a community around you. It may be that you start bumping into the same few people as you attend different groups through the week. If you’re lucky you may find yourself in a smaller class with the same people every week and that friendships blossom that way.
How Daisy Can Help
If you’re really lucky you may attend antenatal classes and start to develop that support through your pregnancy and beyond. One of the things I have loved about being a Daisy Foundation teacher over the past 9 years is helping to grow those communities. Helping bring people together, either in pregnancy or post-natally, and giving them a space where they feel safe to open up, to form those friendships, and build their support groups. A weekly space where you can say “I’m finding this tough” knowing someone else will say “me too.” A space where you can celebrate your baby’s milestones and where others understand how exciting getting 3 whole hours sleep is! I love seeing groups of mums continue those friendships as their babies grow up, and just sometimes, I welcome them back to classes again when they all have their second babies at the same time!
The current Covid situation means meeting people in person isn’t a possibility, so online is where it’s at! Daisy Birthing and Daisy Baby Tinies and Wrigglers classes are taking place via Zoom. This enables us to still see each other and chat and connect, and get that much needed support. It’s not what anyone imagined when they fell pregnant last year, but it’s working and ensuring we have the human contact we desire and need. Facebook and WhatsApp groups have taken the place of cafés and parks. People are using technology to get the support they would usually get in person. And the joy of online communities is that there is almost always somebody else online at the same time as you, meaning you can get answers to your questions or chat whatever time of day (or night) it is. The other benefit is that you don’t need to be dressed or have make-up on before chatting! Nobody will see you!
So if you’re feeling nervous about making that first step, find a group that appeals, take a deep breath and hit ‘join’. You may well end up making friends for life!