Whether you’re a brand-new mom or an experienced parent, having a solid support system around you is critical to success. While every mom’s group is going to look a little different, here are some places to look when putting together your tribe.
Friends and Family
When you’re looking for people who can support you and help you adjust to life with a child, your existing friends and family is a great place to start. Think about who has been a supportive force for you in times of transition — going to college, getting a new job, after a breakup — and instantly eliminate anyone who will be judgmental or critical. The last thing you need right now is someone challenging your parenting decisions or making you feel inferior. Keep in mind that your BFF from your college years may or may not be the best person for this job. As we go through life, we experience a great deal of mental, emotional, and spiritual growth, and that naturally changes relationships. Be honest with yourself and think about who is best able to support you now.
Newborn Care Specialists
Newborn care specialists are supporters by the very nature of their jobs. They are facilitators, educators, and excellent listeners who can help you create a healthy relationship with your child and embrace your role as a mother with love and confidence. Make sure to ask about what credentials the person has and what their approach to helping mothers is. You want someone who can be flexible and tailor their help to your needs.
If you’re planning on breastfeeding at all, a lactation expert is an absolute must-have. Breastfeeding is natural, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy. A lactation counselor can help you get started with the correct latch and address concerns about milk supply or how to know if you’re baby is getting “enough.” Lactation experts have also chosen to be in a profession that is exclusively mothers and infants, which means they’ll be able to empathize with your struggles or doubts and provide positive encouragement.
Mental Health Professionals
Mental health awareness is a growing movement, and having a counselor or therapist on speed dial is a great idea for every new mother. Whether you’ve struggled with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues in the past, transitioning to your new role as mom is a big adjustment and is bound to bring a few emotional bumps. Look for a professional who specializes, or is at least very experienced, in postpartum issues and will be able to recognize and provide help for any specific challenges such as postpartum depression.
People You Haven’t Met Yet
Many mothers will have to look beyond their immediate circle and meet new people who are best friend material. Check out groups that cater to moms and try new activities and go new places with your baby. Even just a trip to the park or to a Mommy and Me class can net some great new supportive friends, and all you need is a sincere smile and a friendly greeting.