Senior midwife and mother, Rebecca Mizzi, explains how to build a support network in modern times.
Most of us have heard the saying it takes a village to raise a child, or as Island Bébé have put it – it takes an island! However, it will come as no surprise that in this day and age, most new parents seem puzzled by this saying. With increased migration, retirement ages going up (therefore grandparents support is limited), an increasingly busy lifestyle and a lack of work-life balance measures in the workplace, most parents are left thinking where is this village? And even for those of us who did have a secure, strong village of support, when COVID-19 came along, this support structure was broken for many.
So, as a new parent, how do you go about finding your village?
Connect With Other New Parents
Take the opportunity to connect with other parents while attending antenatal classes, they will have babies the same age as your own and therefore be going through the same milestones and challenges as yourself. Simply exchanging numbers, forming a WhatsApp group or connecting on Facebook, might sound simple while pregnant, but will be a lifeline in postpartum life.
When I became a mum myself, I realised there were certain needs that only another mum friend could meet. There is an element of reassurance that only another parent can give when we say to each other ‘this is just a phase it will get better’ or ‘hey I’m going through the exact same thing and you’re right it sucks!’
Use Social Media To Your Advantage
Many parents are turning to social media, however it can be a double edged sword. If you need support, you are unlikely to get it from scrolling through other mothers’ picture-perfect homes, play set-ups and weaning ideas. Furthermore we know we are drinking our coffee cold and severely lacking in our self-care, we don’t need another meme to remind us.
On the other hand, it’s just so accessible to everyone, especially in the middle of the night when you are up feeding your baby, or when you are finding it hard to get out of the house with your new little bundle of joy. It can also be such a great way to connect with other mums from all over the globe and share any advice and tips you have discovered.
But, the fact of the matter is that neither Instagram nor Facebook will bring you a warm meal when you’re feeling under the weather, or nip to the shops for more maternity pads after you’ve just given birth, so although it helps, it’s definitely not a cure-all.
Delegate When You Can
When family and friends offer help – TAKE IT! Many people want to help but aren’t sure how or what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need at that time. But also be sure to have healthy boundaries so that you have time and space as a new family.
Seek Professional Support
Mater Dei Hospital provide the excellent services of an infant feeding clinic, discharge liaison midwifery, and perinatal mental health services. Don’t be afraid to seek support when you need it!
Be Part Of A Cultural Change
We are living in a world with too many baby showers and not enough postpartum parties! We need to start taking a home cooked meal for the freezer when we visit new parents rather than another baby outfit. We need to insist on helping out around the house rather than asking for another cuddle with baby. We need to ask how the new parents are doing when we text them for a photo update of baby’s latest milestones. When it comes to finding your village, it starts with us new parents to make this cultural shift.
Finding your village can be tough, and we definitely relate to the struggle. Thanks to Rebecca Mizzi for this invaluable advice on how to build a support network in modern times. For more expert advice, visit our Island Experts section.