Krista Afumbom came home from the hospital ready to devote herself to first-time motherhood and care of her new baby daughter.
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With her husband at work during the day and family far away, though, the Lakewood, Ohio mother felt alone and exhausted.
“In the beginning when you bring home a new baby, it’s very isolating,” Ms. Afumbom says. “I suffered some pretty bad postpartum depression with my first child.”
A support group for new moms was a lifesaver for Ms. Afumbom, who recently delivered her second child.
Here are four reasons to join a new moms’ support group:
1. Get advice on breastfeeding issues.
Ms. Afumbom joined a nursing moms’ support group she learned about from a lactation consultant at her hospital. Overseen by a registered nurse and lactation consultant, her group met weekly to chat about breastfeeding issues such as engorgement, latch, growth spurts, and pumping and storing milk.
“These support groups are useful because we can provide hands-on help for mothers to be successful at breastfeeding,” says Coe Bell, BSN, RN, IBCLC, a perinatal education nurse. “The moms are only with us for around 48-72 hours at the hospital. As milk volumes increase during the first weeks after delivery, mom and baby work to establish breastfeeding. Having support can make all the difference. ”
2. Learn how to advocate for yourself and your baby.
Besides offering breastfeeding support, the nurse facilitator often guides women on other concerns, including the “baby blues”. When new mothers seem overwhelmed and anxious, the nurse advises them to call their doctor when medical help is needed. The nurse teaches new moms how to advocate for themselves and their babies when they need extra care.
“Sometimes, moms come in weepy and unsure of what’s happening,” Ms. Bell says. “There are lots of tears, lots of tissues. We empower moms and bring them together in a safe environment where they can be comfortable with other moms and find a few things in common.”
3. Share tips on dealing with mother and infant care concerns.
Support groups provide a valuable lifeline for new mothers, offering education and skill-building, while keeping babies safer, according to Ms. Bell. The two-hour sessions also help women avoid cabin fever and find camaraderie with other new moms.
Ms. Bell hears new moms learn from experienced moms, saying, “’If you hadn’t been there, I don’t think I could have done this.’ The more experienced moms offer encouragement, saying, ‘You can do this. I’ve been there and you can do this, too.’”
4. Form friendships with other women in the same situation.
“Meeting up with other moms who are going through the same thing as you helps tremendously,” Ms. Afumbom says.
“I met a bunch of really wonderful women who were also new moms. We met on Wednesdays week after week and we developed really strong friendships. We planned playgroups. And there are still nine of us ladies – our kids are now 2 1/2 years old – who still get together around once a week. We will be lifelong friends and our kids will be, too.”
To hear more of Krista’s story, please go to this post.