Thursday, May 23, 2013

Peer Support

I just read an interesting article about peer support. Not a new concept. I started a support group for new mothers sponsored by Dr. Donnelly almost twenty years ago. There are peer support groups for over eaters, to alcoholics, addicts and adults with ADD. The lists are endless. Name as issue and you can probably find a peer support group.

The article used two very different types of scientific studies to prove that peer support actually reduces maternal and infant mortality. I think that is a huge recommendation for having a group of people going through the same experience as you are to "hold each other up". Just knowing that there are others feeling and thinking about the same topics and perhaps with perspectives that validate or even offer alternatives or suggestions for your issue can be a life saver.

Join a peer support group. I think the best way is to find a group with exactly the same concerns is best accomplished by joining  a prenatal yoga or prenatal exercise group. They often evolve into mother- baby play groups or stroller groups that provide the support that new mothers need to thrive, relate and grow and be comfortable in their very new role. One of my favorites is Oh! Baby Fitness.Sometimes a physician's office is willing to open it's doors after hours for their patients. Some hospitals offer them.  Sometimes a church or even a community center will offer space for a group.

You do not need a leader, per se. You just need to get together often enough ( once a week is great ) to have plenty of time to share. You can bring up a topic for discussion or join in an ongoing subject. You may decide each week, what y'all want to discuss next week. You may meet in rotating homes, a conveniently located cafe, restaurant, perhaps the meeting room at the library or a church.

My agenda always included a week for early bonding, sex after delivery, transition back to work outside the home, changes in relationships (  friends, other offspring, parents, siblings ). Well, just about anything and everything that comes up after such a life changing event that you all share. It is amazing the bonds that form and the communities that you can make by joining a peer support group that focuses in on what you are all experiencing in the present.

Sharing with moms, just like you, offers the intimacy and goodwill that is often absent when you talk to just anyone. Find people who want to talk about pregnancy and before you know it you'll be talking about your newborns and all the joys and trials that come with this new job. There are groups that continue to meet well into their children's lives. Start in your present reality, stick to shared relevant topics and be grateful for each other and  for the BFFs that you'll make.