F - Find Your Tribe.
After having a baby, many things will change, there’s no doubt about that. One of the more surprising changes many moms face is the fact that they feel isolated. Maybe you’re the first of your friends to have a baby. Maybe you follow gentle parenting and your friends follow traditional punitive parenting. Regardless of the reason, many times women find themselves “starting over” in the friend sphere.
During your pregnancy, as you plan for your postpartum (you’re not? You should!), you need to be considering who you can rely on. This type of support I’m talking about isn’t who is going to come over and clean your bathroom and hold baby while you shower for the first time in a week. That’s great but you need to focus on finding those who you can bitch to without judgment. Who can you call at 2am when you’re overwhelmed with your partner not doing a damn thing and they’ll get it, they’ll really get it? Who won’t judge you for vaccinating or not vaccinating? Who won’t laugh at you because you choose to give homeopathics instead of Tylenol?
This is your tribe. These are your people. These will be lasting, lifetime friends.
Now, I’d be lying if I said it were easy. Hell, I’ve yet to find any true mom-friends and I’m 2 years into being a mom. It’s hard. Really hard.
But, don’t be like me. Plan ahead of time. Once baby comes, you won’t have time to consider your options. Maybe there was a great girl in your childbirth ed class you think you may hit it off with. Talk to her. Maybe there’s that one who posts exactly what you’ve been thinking all day in your local mom group. Contact her. Reach out. What do you have to lose? They say no? OK, move on and know that you probably weren’t going to hit it off anyway.
But please know how important social support is.
Research has shown that social support is a major determinant of postpartum depression (Negron et al.). Support from your partner and your family, that’s expected. It’s the girls nights and bitch sessions that are hard to come by but are absolute musts for your sanity!
Being able to talk about what you are going through, receiving encouraging words, and being able to go to the mall or get your nails done without Junior throwing pureed apples your way does numbers for your mental state (Negron et al.).
Transition periods are stressful times and having that tribe to turn to for assistance is invaluable (Heh).
If you are currently pregnant, here’s my challenge: the next time you’re in a birth prep class and one of the other members says something that rings true to you, ask her out to coffee.
If you are currently not pregnant but looking for mom friends, here’s my challenge: the next time you’re in the grocery store and there’s a mom with a similar aged child looking at the same products you are, strike up a conversation.
Where else can you look for mom friends? Have you had a hard time finding your tribe?
Heh, Shu-Shya. “Relationship Between Social Support and Postnatal Depression.” Kaohsiung J Med Sci. October 2003. Vol 19; No. 10. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/82733632.pdf. Web. Retrieved 18 Sept 2018.
Negron, Rennie et al. “Social Support during the Postpartum Period: Mothers’ Views on Needs, Expectations, and Mobilization of Support.” Maternal and child health journal 17.4 (2013): 616–623. PMC. Web. 18 Sept. 2018.
Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and children. As a doula and educator of infant sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and parenting.