Being a new parent is hard…
New motherhood is a lonely role with little support. If you don’t count the mandatory maternal health nurse appointments every few months (2, 4, 6, 8, 12 months post-partum) there is little space for a new mama to turn when she has questions.
For me, it’s been 27 years since my mum reared children and my sister’s kids are already 14 and 20 years old. So, a lot of information they gave me while pregnant (rough up your nipples with a wash-cloth etc.) is completely out of date.
Google is so vast in information that you can send yourself down the rabbit hole, sure that you are doing something detrimental to the health of your children when really the research saying it’s ok to co-sleep just didn’t happen to pop up when you searched ‘will my child die from co-sleeping’
When I first became a mama, I was constantly searching online for advice and guidance, in fact nearly 10 months into this gig and I am still using it as a basis for researching strange skin conditions (the thrills of infantile eczema), food ideas (baby-led-weaning is hard!) and how much milk vs solids vs sleep vs playtime my son needs… lots, lots, lots, lots!
One of the most valuable sources of information for me has been Facebook support groups. They offer up anecdotal evidence, assistance, advice and support for issues that you would otherwise have to go to a professional for.
Don’t get me wrong if there is an issue with my child and I am questioning taking him into the ER then I will not be posting on social media, waiting for a response from strangers.
But, when it comes to having questions on car-seat regulations that are unclear in the manual and when can I feed my baby pasta or even just a having a whine about sore nipples (and how to fix) type questions… There is a real progressiveness about not having to make a Dr appointment to get the answer.
To be honest it’s part of the reason I started this blog! I am sure I am not the only person to experience some of the things I have, and having found pretty good solutions in most cases, I had to share.
I have even created my own Mama Support Group which you should totally go join right now!
Why Join Facebook Groups?
Regulated by administrators = Safe positive space to ask questions
The focus on these groups is support and encouragement of one another. The admins are usually on top of any negative comments, belittling or bullying. There are rules outlines in each group and members are held to account with these.
This makes it a really safe space to ask ‘stupid’ questions and also provide your own input when others ask questions too, without fearing judgement.
Real people answering with anecdotal advice
If you are going to ask questions about motherhood then it makes sense to ask mothers! Rather than posting a question to just the people you know in your Facebook friends, asking people who are literally in the same situation as you, experiencing the same frustrations etc. just makes sense.
You can search the group for past posts and answers
Before posting you can go to any group and in the search bar type something like ‘baby rash’, ‘formula for sensitive stomach’, ‘improving breastmilk supply’ and most of the time someone has already asked your question and you can read through the comments to find your answer.
Sense of community
The sense of community is huge in these groups. Like I said, motherhood can be lonely and so it’s nice to share a win ‘baby ate all his broccoli!’, ‘baby holding his own bottle!’, ‘baby slept through the night!’ or a fail ‘baby spewed all over clean sheets’, ‘baby not sleeping, help!’, ‘mama not coping’.
The positive response to these sorts of posts not only make you feel good when you are the one posting but gives you a sense of something relatable, and comforting knowing you are not the only one.
Fills your newsfeed with helpful information
And this sort of posting leads to your newsfeed being filled with stories and questions that are relevant to your current situation. It dilutes the mundane posts from friends (Sally’s partying again; Joe took some more photos of his motorcycle etc.) and pointless pages you started following back in 2008.
I recently did a Facebook detox and unfriended all the people I met on nights out in my partying days; as well as unfollowed a bunch of groups that were filling my feed with crap.
Sense of accomplishment when you are able to answer someone else’s question
Being one step in front of another mother means one great thing, experience! I by no means class myself as an expert parent, but if there is a mama with just a few months less experience than me, asking for help about lactation recipes, you bet I’m going to try and help!
You don’t need to be a lactation consultant, sleep therapist or even a blogger to let someone know what your experience was and what worked for you. Because if they are asking, then they obviously don’t know.
Answers received are take it or leave it advice
If someone replies to your post with a suggestion you wouldn’t dare consider then scroll on!
It’s free to join and you can engage as much as you are comfortable with
Are There Any Negatives to Joining Facebook Support Groups?
Taking comments and opinions to heart
Unfortunately, if you choose to post on these groups you can be opening yourself up to scrutiny. The comments you receive should be taken with a grain of salt. Try not to get offended if someone sounds naïve or rude. Tone is very hard to portray in text and this can be taken the wrong way or as ‘bitchy.’
Of course, if someone is blatantly being nasty or discriminatory then do not hesitate to report their comment to an administrator.
The group will only stay a safe positive space if people follow the rules!
Getting bad advice
Not everyone has the same education or culture and what may be good advice to one person may be horrible for the next. There are many ‘touchy’ and controversial topics when it comes to parenting. A few of them are:
- Use of jolly jumpers and baby swings
- When to start baby on solids
- Breast vs bottle:
One that I myself had a bad experience with. You can read more about my experience (and how I turned it into a positive in my full post)
Related: Why We Need to Stop Shaming Mothers Who Formula Feed
Getting lost on your phone on Facebook
Just like Google can draw you in and make you think you are dying, you can get lost in reading hundreds of comments and opinions and before you know it, you’ve been sitting on your phone for the length of your bubs entire 2hr nap (*guilty).
This is a risk with any application on your phone though, so be mindful.
What Kind of Facebook Groups Should I Join?
Here is a list of the different types of mama groups you can join and what you may expect from each type of group.
The best part is if you join a group and have a scroll through and decide it’s not for you then you can simply leave the group, no questions asked.
1.Pregnancy group for time your baby is due
What to search: “pregnancy groups due 2020” This is great when you are pregnant as you can relate to other mums who are actually due the same time as you and are likely experiencing similar symptoms as you are, in real time.
2.First time mum group
This is likely to bring up generic, international groups which is great as you get a universal perspective on a range of topics.
3.New mum group in your area/city
Search “new mum group” and the name of your country, city etc. These have been helpful recently as the weather changes and I have gotten advice on what to cloth my baby in overnight (Melbourne is very up and down at the moment 41°C (105.8F) yesterday and down to 19°C (66F) today!). Also great for advice on local childcare centers and events as well.
4.Post-partum depression and anxiety support groups
These groups are more focused on parents with post-partum depression and/or anxiety. Although, the positive encouragement received by posters in these groups is enough to get you out of your funk on any bad day, even if not diagnosed depression/anxiety.
Since having Jax I have had some hectic PMS when that time comes and these groups have really helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel.
PMS is very different as a new mum, when you can’t just be a couch potato and each ice-cream binging Netflix anymore… There’s just too much to do!
5.Car seat safety
This was super helpful recently. I was questioning whether Jaxon’s feet should be touching the backseat in his rear-facing capsule or whether I need to upsize. I checked the manual cover-to-cover and all I could find were details on the shoulder height, nothing about child height/weight limits.
I had considered going to the baby-store and asking the guy in the carpark who installs car-seats. When would I find the time to do this seemingly very important task though?
Instead I joined an Australian Car Safety group (to ensure I got the regulations correct) and within 30 minutes I had responses from 35 different parents advising that it was totally normal.
This is also a good place to keep an eye out for manufacturing recalls, retail sales and recommendations as well.
6.Children’s food groups
Whether you are looking for tips on introducing solids for the first time or are like me and are struggling to find recipes for your fussy 9 month old, these groups are great. A bunch of parents sharing recipes and tips on grocery budgeting etc.
There are heaps of different groups so you just need to search what you are looking for, be it certain cuisine, age group or even food for yourself as a mama trying to lose the baby weight.
7.New mom weight loss support
When you are finally ready to hit the gym and start shedding some of the dreaded baby weight you can join some of these groups to find like-minded, supportive people to help you on your journey. There is nothing like accountability to keep you motivated.
8.Buy swap sell groups in your area
Done with that old high-chair? = Sell it.
Baby grew into the next size nappies half-way through a packet? = Sell the left overs.
Need a porta cot but don’t have much to spend? = Find one online, secondhand.
These groups exist all over Facebook, but finding ones that are close to your location (for easy pick-up option) as well as groups that are niched down to parents, means that you are more likely to hit your target audience and sell your items quicker.
You can use Facebook marketplace to sell items as well and then share these listings to the niche groups for extra coverage.
These are a great addition to your newsfeed, relatable mama memes are my fave. I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to them!
Follow my Mama Meme Board!
Facebook support groups are a great place to get information, advice, inspiration and support. As long as you take the comments and advice with a grain of salt and always back it up with research.
If you have a medical question you will likely be met with people asking you to refer to your doctor, which is something you should definitely do, although there is no harm in asking advice while you wait for your up-coming appointment.
Even if you choose not to post any questions/photos etc. you can totally still get value out of being a member of a great community of mamas.
And don’t be surprised if you start to sound like one of these:
I’m probably N & W haha – coconut oil <3
Have you joined any mama groups? What groups are you a part of? I’m always looking for new groups to join!
And if you really don’t know where to start, don’t forget to come join my group!
See you there!