When I was pregnant with my first baby, I literally had no idea what I was letting myself in for.
Back in those days I had a professional role working for a major multinational in Singapore. I travelled, I worked, I spoke at conferences in front of 100's of people, I wore a suit to work, I felt like I knew what I was doing. But when it came to babies...not a clue.
I had literally barely ever held a baby, much less breastfed one or changed a nappy. I had absolutely no idea what it was like to be at home all day with a tiny person who needed me all the time. Although I was totally delighted and besotted with my beautiful new daughter, I had no idea how hard it would be once we were home and everything returned to normal. Because it didn't. There was no normal. I had no idea how lonely, and difficult, and isolating it could be taking care of a newborn baby. No idea how tired I would be, how sore. How sometimes the day would just drag, and I would be actually quite bored.
During my pregnancy I had been along to some coffee mornings run by the slightly intimidating and yet inspirational Nikki Macfarlane, who was to be my doula. (I had no idea at the time how lucky I was!) These coffee mornings were open to all her clients, current, past and previous. The first time I went I actually popped out in my lunchbreak as I was still working at the time. It was a bit of a shock to be honest to be surrounded by all these pregnant and lactating women, newborns, and toddlers.
However, once my daughter was born, I soon discovered just how vaulable these coffee mornings were. I realised how important it was to just have a safe space to hang out with other mums. To realise that other people were struggling too. To ask questions and have them answered honestly. To be encouraged and told that I was actually doing a good job. Just to feel supported, welcomed, and accepted as a mother. That was the true value of these meetings.
Of course as my daughter grew older and I grew in confidence, I made other friends and started to venture out more. Those friends I made in those early days were absolute life savers - it was so good to have someone in a similar situation to hang out with, have a coffee, share the bad days (and the good ones!). I have not named you all individually but you know who you are, and you know your love and support kept me sane!
That is one of the reasons why I am starting up a Positive Birth Group in Bourton on the Water (starting on Wednesday 5th September). To provide unconditional positive support to pregnant and new mums.
Living in a rural area, it's not always easy for new mums to meet other mums. Especially in pregnancy, when people are likely to be working. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the reality is that village life can be quiet, and isolating. Not all new mums are lucky enough to be able to live close to family and friends. I believe our "nuclear family" set up is not ideal in many ways, especially for women who find themselves at home during the day, taking full responsibility for the care of babies and young children. No wonder that postnatal depression affects as many as one in ten new mothers in the UK.
I really want the Positive Birth Group to have that same accepting, supportive quality. So that anyone can come along, to ask questions and discuss anything they want to. To explore birth and parenting choices openly and honestly. To have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, a laugh (or even a good cry!). And hopefully make some friends.
If you know anyone who you think might benefit from this group (which, by the way, is totally FREE) why not suggest that they link up with us on Facebook to get details of all our future meetings.
And if you think you would like to come along, don't be shy...come down and join us at the Cotswold Clubhouse in the upstairs cafe area, first Wednesday evening of every month. Everyone welcome, pregnant, not pregnant, babies, dads....
I look forward to meeting you!
PS The Positive Birth Movement is a global network of free to attend antenatal groups, supported by social media. It was started by Milli Hill, who happens to be the author of the rather fabulous Positive Birth Book, which is well worth a read. You can read more about the Positive Birth Movement here.