Becoming a mother can be the most satisfying and the most stressful experience of a woman’s life. For every precious smile and coo, there are sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. Many parents face this journey alone, far from their families. And for some women, the transition is complicated by postpartum depression that often goes unrecognized.
Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) of Greater Boston is a leading provider of comprehensive human services. Staff members work closely with new mothers who need support and guidance in their new roles. The agency offers a nationally acclaimed program for pregnant women and new mothers who are struggling with the adjustment of an expanding family. The JF&CS Lauren and Mark Rubin Visiting Moms Program® was established by Peggy H. Kaufman, MEd, LICSW, director of the Center for Early Relationship Support, and is led by director Debbie Whitehill, LICSW. They offer the following tips for new mothers:
- Acknowledge your full range of feelings (the joy, disappointment, excitement and fear of caring for a new baby) with at least one person you feel comfortable with and trust.
- When possible, ask others to help with daily chores and routines.
- Recognize that doing too much too soon is unhealthy. Give yourself time to heal from the pregnancy and childbirth.
- Understand that it’s just as important to take care of yourself as it is your new baby. Practice self-care by setting aside time for yourself.
- Accept that getting to know your baby takes time.
- Feeling like a “mom” (or a “dad”) is a process and doesn’t happen the moment you first hold your baby. Give yourself time to grow into being a parent.
- Accept that as a parent there will be days of great joy and days of great distress and frustration.
- Parenting is often a process of trying one thing and then another until you’ve figured out what works. Be patient.
- Seek out a support network; new mothers’ groups, home visiting programs and/or informal neighborhood groups.
- Know when to seek professional help, and don’t be afraid to ask.
“Motherhood isn’t necessarily a natural transition,” says Peggy Kaufman. “A lot of new mothers don’t know there is support to help them through the difficulties and pressures associated with bringing home a new baby or adding to an already established family. Sometimes all a new mother needs is help holding the baby when it cries or having company on a shopping outing. New mothers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.”
The JF&CS Visiting Moms Program provides trained volunteers who come to the home of a new mother for up to two hours a week until the baby’s first birthday to offer support and encouragement during this challenging time. Whether it’s a mother who’s just had her first child or a mother who has three children and a newborn, Visiting Moms is a free, welcome support network.
Visiting Moms is just one of the many programs offered by the Center for Early Relationship Support (CERS). CERS provides many services designed to meet the many complex needs of families in the first three years of their child’s lives.
For more information, visit jfcsboston.org, or call 781-647-JFCS (5327).
This article is printed courtesy of JF&CS.