Mothers’ Group: Friend or Foe

Posted by COPE on 17th March 2020

When it comes to mothers’ groups chances are you’ve heard one of two stories: “It was a complete lifesaver in a time of sleep-deprivation and what-the-hell-am-I doing, and I made some wonderful friendships!” OR “It was full of ‘judgey’ mummies whose babies all slept through the night and I never went back.”

Does this sound familiar?

While many mum swear by weekly catch-ups in cafes and parks with like-minded mums all deep in the trenches of new motherhood, COPE research shows that for 42 per cent of mamas struggling with anxiety and depression, going to mothers’ groups only made them feel worse about themselves.

Half of mums didn’t want to leave the house and avoided visitors and friends while 65 per cent said they felt alone. 

“Mother groups just made things worse for me. Everyone would be saying ‘my baby’s sleeping through, sitting up or whatever … it just made me feel like I wasn’t keeping up. I just came home feeling worse about myself, so I stopped going.”

Is it any wonder?

Given mother’s groups can be a huge source of support and often the beginning of life-long friendships, how can we ensure they foster a culture of support and care rather than competition and judgement?

Here are some tips:

  • Some people will have an easier time adjusting to motherhood than others and it’s important to acknowledge that our experiences, while similar, are often very very different. 
  • Don’t compete. Don’t pretend. And aim to keep motherhood real.
  • Make a pledge, as a group, to speak openly and honestly about the highs and lows of motherhood.
  • Let one another know that you’re available, whether it’s for practical support or a listening ear. Reach out, if you’re concerned about a fellow mum.
  • If there’s a mama in your group who’s struggling, make it easy for her to attend catch ups by making sure you meet somewhere that’s easy for her to get to.  Sometimes, just leaving the house, is half the battle.

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