Pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting are of the most common human experiences in every society and era throughout the history of the world. And yet, when facing pregnancy or caring for a baby or young children, it’s easy to feel isolated. “Why do I feel so alone?” you might wonder, “And what can I do about it?”
In past blogs, we’ve covered a variety of kinds of support you might be seeking as a pregnant woman or a new mother, including mental and emotional support, financial and nutritional support as well as how to find stable housing and medical insurance. And, of course, Hope Rising exists to provide emotional and physical support for women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Perhaps no one has better captured the need for friends than the Beatles in their famous song “With a Little Help From My Friends.” It’s true: we need friends to feel connected and to just “get by.” With all the other demands of life, it’s hard to find the time to make an effort to find a friend, let alone an entire network of friends.
It might feel selfish; it’s not. You NEED the support of friends, and contrary to our beliefs, friendship doesn’t always just happen organically as we go about our daily lives, and there’s nothing wrong with you if you aren’t connected to a network of friends. So, set aside any negative self-talk, and open your mind to some of the ideas we offer here for finding a social support network of friends you can rely on.
The Three Phases of Connection
Just as there’s no go-to manual for pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, there’s no definitive way to find a friend or a group of friends. There are, however, ways to avoid all that comes along with these feelings of isolation in your day-to-day life and long-term. We suggest challenging yourself to take active steps this month. Step out of your comfort zone and take a risk so that you can experience the rewards of friendship.
- Online Communities
Let’s start with connecting with others virtually. You’re probably spending time each day on social media platforms anyway, so while you’ve got your phone in your hand and you’re on Facebook, take some time to search for communities, groups, or forums on which you can talk to others about the issues you’re facing on your journey through pregnancy or motherhood.
Facebook usually has groups for expectant mothers to talk about their experiences such as this one for mothers of babies due in 2024 and 2025. While it’s not likely you’ll find friends in such a group, you might at least find connection so that you don’t feel as alone with whatever you are experiencing.
One group that hosts a community on Facebook is the Dayton Mom Collective. Their website states that they “strive to foster a sense of community both online and offline every day.” They also have an Instagram account you can follow and engage with. Being a part of a local Facebook group like this one is a good idea as it could lead to in-person meet-ups and the opportunity to connect with others one-on-one, which could lead to the ultimate goal: the development of a friendship.
- In-person Gatherings, Events, and Workshops
Groups like the Dayton Mom Collective are excellent ways to meet others who are at similar places on life’s journey. Meetup.com is a helpful site to explore to find upcoming events, group meetings, and workshops happening near you. With this link, you’ll be able to find everything from low-key meeting of moms at coffee shops to educational and support groups for specific needs. Further, you can search by location with their map feature.
According to the site Mental Health America, “The need to be in relationships with one another is deeply ingrained in our DNA.” Further, ‘Creating and sustaining a community around you is important to your mental health. Humans are social creatures, meaning our brains are wired to seek connection with others. These connections allow us to share interests and feel a sense of belonging and security.” When we choose to seek connection with others, we have a better outlook and feel better too!
Another place to look for Moms groups is at places of worship near you. Groups like MOPS International provide opportunities to connect with others who are expecting or navigating motherhood. They make meetups easy. “Whether you prefer to meet with other moms in a coffee shop, church, park, living room, or video chat, we have something for you,” their website says.
- Ongoing Connections
While you should feel proud of yourself when you make a plan to step out of your comfort zone to engage with an online community or attend an in-person event, that’s only just the beginning. What do you do if while at an event, you find someone you relate to–someone who shares a similar background or who just seems to be a fit for you? Don’t ignore that nudge of your intuition. Strike up a conversation and exchange numbers. Better yet, make a plan to meet again.
After connecting with someone or a few people, be intentional about nurturing these connections so that they grow into friendships. Don’t let that immediate connection you had with someone be forgotten! You know how it feels if too much time passes between meeting someone and deciding to reach out. It starts to feel awkward, so don’t let too much time go by.
If you reach out soon after connecting with someone, you can make a plan to get together which can turn into regular get-togethers and true friendship.
It’s fine to start online with some of the sites we’ve offered here, but be sure you don’t stop there. Seek out in-person group meetings so that you find friends–one or a few women with whom you can share your ups and downs, encourage and be encouraged by, celebrate, and commiserate with. With friends by your side, as you navigate pregnancy or motherhood, you can do more than just “get by” (as the Beatles line goes); you can thrive.