- Bunch of women I had nothing in common with
- Awkward silences
- Having to find somewhere to feed and change Jax
- Not educational at all
- Like an anonymous support group… “hi, my name is…”
- Bunch of women I had everything in common with
- Lots of laughs and sharing
- Openly feeding and changing Jax right there in the room, along with everyone else
- Super educational
- Informal and casual conversation about everything baby
We all gathered in a room off the side of the local kindergarten.
There is a total of 8 women and their babies of all different backgrounds. Our babies are all around the same age (3-6 months). 6 female babies and 2 male babies (including Jax).
The feeling is casual and warm. Each woman greets each other and we all take a seat. Although we are told that we should feel comfortable and that we can ‘do what we need to do’ with our respective bubs in regards to feeding, sleeping, changing etc.
It is not long before the first baby Mikayla cries and her mother Anya is up to tend to her, pacing around the room and eventually taking a seat and beginning to nurse her baby. All while the group leader continues her introduction.
This instantly made everyone comfortable (surprisingly) as throughout the session each baby was nursed by breast or bottle. I have to say there was something empowering about breastfeeding in a room full of strangers who didn’t react or make me feel like I was doing something disgusting or crude.
The group leader Laura begins the session with introductions and then goes on to advise what topic the session will be centered around. We begin around the room for everyone to share their experiences.
This is what I learned from my experience at council organized mother’s group.
Week 1 – Sleep and Settling
Before this session I was pretty confident that Jaxon was a super-star sleeper. In fact, the sessions just reiterated that what I was doing was mostly correct. Jax managed to have decent day naps and he had slept for 8hrs every night since he was 4 weeks old.
What I did learn is how incredibly lucky I am to have achieved this. As each mum took her turn to share her experience with her baby’s sleep schedule (or lack thereof) it became clear that little Jax was the envy of the room (winning!).
Now, that’s not to say he was perfect. Our vice was revealed when asked how we get little Jax to sleep. Rocking. Yep I got scolded for always rocking Jax to sleep, mostly in his rocker.
Now, I could have rolled my eyes and walked away and said I’m happy with the way things are at that point. Although the warning of having to rock an 18-24-month-old to sleep if I kept this bad habit up quickly burned itself into my brain and from that point, I was all ears.
Our group leader was an ex-sleep specialist and she had a multitude of tips and tricks on getting baby to sleep, and helping baby get to sleep on their own!
I all but ran home to hubby with our new plan of attack.
Needless to say, I was super chuffed to report back to the group leader 2 weeks later, that we had successfully weaned out of the bouncer for day naps and Jax was a 100% bassinet baby. (OK so maybe we are a little blessed).
Week 2 – Safety
This session was taken by a maternal child health nurse. In this session we spoke about every little thing on earth that can potentially harm our children. Ok so maybe I’m a bit cynical.
But really! The nurse named each room in the house and asked us each to name something that could be a hazard to our children. She then impressed us with 3-5 other items that we had neglected to mention. Who knew that a loose hair of yours could wrap around your baby’s finger and cut off circulation and inadvertently amputate it?!
I get it, some cultures and age-groups do not have proper education surrounding child-proofing and child safety. But for me most of these scenarios were either obvious (don’t leave baby alone in the bath) or ridiculous dramatizations of single reported events (the thread in a sock wrapping around baby’s toe, cutting off circulation and inadvertently amputating a toe?!) …
All us mums were looking at each other in sheer horror by the end of the session holding our babies tight and vowing to wrap them in cotton wool forever! (But not too tight, because, you know…).
Week 3 – CPR
By far the most educational and necessary session of the lot. This information is SO important for everyone to know.
This is something that should be taught to parents before they leave the hospital with baby. In fact, some countries have this as part of the driver’s license process. You just never know when you will need this knowledge (of course I hope you NEVER have to use it).
The group leader was back and in tow she brought her tummy time mat for the bubs to have some time to play together (very cute).
We also used this mat to practice CPR on little baby CPR dolls.
We went through the principles of CPR and I can truly say right now that I am more confident, I would remain calm in the event it was needed.
We also covered choking in babies which is a huge fear of mine so all in all a super beneficial session. With all our babies at the age where we are about to start solid foods this was very valuable training as we covered preparation of food as well. Like hot dogs being cut lengthwise instead of just rounds, or cheese being shredded instead of cut into cubes. Things that I didn’t really consider previously could cause a choking hazard – marshmallow anyone?!
Just a note that if your mother’s group does not offer this kind of training you should definitely look into learning the basic principles of CPR. It is invaluable knowledge even if you never have to use it.
There is a great site for new parents at https://www.tinyheartseducation.com/ (FYI, not a paid link, I just really want you to look into this valuable education for your family).
Week 4 – Introducing solid food to baby
Jaxon was the youngest of all the babies at this group. When we started, he was just 10 weeks old compared to the other babies who were around the 15-week-old mark. Funnily enough he was still the biggest!
By 13 weeks he was watching me with great interest when I ate food near him and by 15 weeks, he was licking his lips while staring at my plate of food.
These are all signs we are taught to look for in week 4 of the mother’s group.
Our group leader went through starting on rice cereal, moving to veggies and finally meats, eggs, dairy and finally fruit.
The main points I took away from this session are:
- Only introduce fruits later on, if you start with something sweet it will be very hard to get your bubs to eat veggies later. Rice cereal is a good choice.
- Let baby tell you when they have had enough. Don’t force the subject of solids. If bubs is telling you they don’t like it, put it away and try again tomorrow.
- It has to be a good experience. This is less about food intake for baby and more about a learning experience.
- Try new foods at the start of the day. Alan has a lot of allergies so it was important for us to monitor Jax when starting solids. This tip of starting new foods in the mornings so you could monitor baby all day for reactions was a great tip.
- Puree vs fork mashed vs whole foods. Preparation needs to be minimal to allow baby the learning of different textures of food.
Week 5 – Mobile Library
This is our final week. By this stage there is a solid 4 of us who have continued to show up. Our babies have gotten used to each other and smile when they do tummy time together.
We are taught about play and reading to babies. Black and white books are a great option for new babies as they can see the pictures the best. But any book as long as you are reading (or just explaining the pictures) is good for babies’ language development.
A representative from the local library attended our group and signed us all up with library cards. She had brought a stack of books for us to borrow as well.
We are educated about the services of the local library including weekly events for children and babies.
To be honest I didn’t even know where my local library was before this session, let lone have a library card!
The other mums and I made a plan to meet the following week at the library to attend the ‘baby bounce’ session. It was a good way to make a plan to continue to catch up outside the confines of the scheduled mother’s group.
Overall, I am really glad that I went to mothers group. I learnt a heap of really valuable information that has helped me with really important aspects of raising a baby. Sleep, CPR and food is a basic outline but there were so many other topics covered as each mum asked questions about different things that they were experiencing with their babies that week, myself included.
Jaxon made friends with a little boy named Lindsay and his mum Isla and I have caught up a couple of times after the library day as well.
But, even if you don’t take away a friend or two from this experience it is still worth going, if not only to ask questions and get some free assistance (that isn’t from a GP or the like) and to network with other mums.
It was nice to also have an appointment to go to as it forced us to get up and get dressed and into the car, or pram for a walk.
A really positive experience.
Did you attend your appointed mother’s group? What did you take away from your experience? I would love to know in the comments below!