Many moms today are prepared to have a baby
They attend regular prenatal appointments with their OB or midwife, they take childbirth classes in hopes of understanding the experience of birth and having the birth they have planned for. They may even take infant CPR, newborn care and breastfeeding classes to prepare for the experience of being a parent. Despite all of this preparation, one of the most commonly heard statements in the first week of each 6 week session of The Chicago New Moms Group is “Nothing prepared me for this.” And it’s true. Some moms feel like no one really told them what to expect, others find that they were told that it would be the hardest job they ever did, but that they could independently handle whatever came their way. Even moms who have experience with children are caught unaware of what the reality of what parenting will be actually like. There have been countless moms who have participated in the group who were nannies or preschool teachers in their premom life. All say, “This is different. When it is your own child, it is different.”
The society that most of us live in today, especially those of us who live in the city, involves families living often isolated existences where we all have our individual house or apartment where we return to and live with just our partner and child or children. Extended family may live a plane ride away. In societies that live more communally, new moms grow up with their mothers, aunts, sisters and cousins having babies all around. Not only does this provide a front row seat to the experience of caring for a newborn, but it creates a build in safety network whereby there is always someone around to provide social interaction, support, guidance or to give a new mom some much needed respite from the non stop duties of caring for a newborn. This village supports moms in countless way. Without this communal life, moms are left to figure much of motherhood out on their own or with a partner who is also a new parent. The Chicago New Moms Group grew out of the need to help moms develop in-person relationships with other new moms who are sharing all the same experiences and to create the village that many moms today are missing.
The Chicago New Moms Group is a 6-week educational and supportive program for first time moms of babies 0-6 months old. The group is entering into its 8th year of supporting new moms at a time when they need it the most. This is a crucial moment when moms have question upon question for which the Internet seems to have millions of answers that all contradict one another. There is no substitute for spending time with other new moms over several weeks in order to build the foundation of friendships that form the basis of this essential support network, a network which is designed to endure into the future as their children grow together as well.
The ultimate goal of the group is to help moms build their confidence as new moms
This process often develops over time as a result of learning. While the eventual outcome of the group is that moms walk away with a solid group of new mom friends, the educational component of the group takes the pressure off of moms who might not necessarily be social by nature and provides answers to the multitude of questions everyone has. Each week of the 6 weeks is devoted to a different topic ranging from understanding your baby’s temperament, reading your baby’s cues and soothing, the developmental nature of sleep in babies as well as how to help them learn how to become great sleepers. We discuss normal child development in the first year, when to expect certain milestones to happen, and how to help your child on the path of development. Time is also given to discussions of returning to work or staying home with your baby as well as developing an identity as either a working mom or a stay at home mom. We round out the group exploring feelings about the new mom body and how to prioritize time to take care of yourself in the midst of an exhausting and already time crunched life with a baby.
After 7 years of running the group, I can say that I only love it more and more with every session
I am honored by the opportunity to guide moms through what often feels like a very isolating time. Providing a safe space for them each week where they know they will find support and a non-judgmental audience is essential. Moms often tell me that the simple fact that they know they have a place to go each week to break up the sometimes monotonous days of early motherhood was the best thing they did after they had their first baby. I love running into a mom years after she was in the group and hearing that she still hangs out with her friends from her group and that their children are all friends today. There is no substitute for your new mom village. More information and group registration can be found at www.chicagonewmomsgroup.com.