From time to time, I choose to use a guest from my health network to post on my monthly blog. For those who don't already know this, I work with a web of health providers and care takers, all of which are professionals I'm happy to refer to because either 1) I had a great first hand experience with them, or 2) one or several of my patients have raved about their service. After meeting with Jessica Hill from The Parent Collective at my Westport office, I understood her vision and thought, "I wish I knew about these classes when I was first pregnant with my son".
- Iris Netzer-Greenfield
Having a baby is one of the hardest things a mother will go through, both physically and emotionally. We assume because its natural that that somehow means we should be able to take it in stride, but with our society such as it is, women are given almost no time to come to grips with their new world order and have very little encouragement to help them adjust.
Here in the US, the focus is primarily on our babies, rightly so, but far less attention is paid to caring for new mothers and all of the emotional and physical hardship that it entails. Often times family is far away and with that distance, we lose our natural support network. More than anything, women need friends who are going through the same transforming experience - to call on in their hour of need. Is my baby getting enough to eat? Is your baby waking every hour too? My baby starts crying as soon as I put her down! I can't catch a break! By talking these problems through with friends who are knee deep in the same chaos, you realize that its not just you. You feel less alone and you can help strategize solutions.
More and more women are finding their community online and local resources like Balanced Mama here in Fairfield County have been an amazing forum for new moms with questions. The Parent Collective (TPC) is another support designed to help couples build friendships in their last trimester so that they can enter the 'new baby phase' with a few close friends by their side.
I had my boys an ocean away from friends and family, which was a scary proposition. I worried about how I would cope with the onslaught. Would I be a good parent? How would my marriage withstand? What if I got sick? What if I got lonely? A friend told me to sign up for a prenatal class series, which has been around in the UK for 60 years called the NCT. There I met other couples who were due within a month of me and lived a short walk away. Many of us are still friends to this day. With that class, I developed my modern day village. A support network of couples who helped each other through illness, loneliness, marital problems, and the run of the mill baby drama.
My experience and my longstanding friendships as a result, are the origin of The Parent Collective here in Fairfield County. TPC offers judgment-free prenatal classes, with a focus on in-depth and relaxed discussion designed to help make connections amongst the participants.
Friendship is a crucial part of our overall happiness. Often we as mothers are so focused on being the caregiver to others, that we overlook our general wellness. When we are happy and cared for as mothers, we are better mothers. As someone who has come to this game late - I wish I had taken more time to nurture myself in those early days but I am so appreciative for my gang who provided me much needed support and laughter at a stressful time. Everyone should be so lucky!
Jessica Hill is the co-founder of The Parent Collective. To learn more visit: www.theparentcollective.com