Discover local support systems to ease your way into parenthood
By Jennifer Aline Graham
While being a new parent can be terrifying, there are ways to find support in Western New York.
Between putting together the crib, forcing your eyes open at night for feedings and squeezing in time for your own relaxation, parenthood can be more than overwhelming.
Many new parents are unsure of how they can face their own anxieties while caring for their newborn and, at times, it may seem nearly impossible.
What many new parents do not know is there are local groups they can easily connect with to help them build relationships with other parents and find support.
By connecting with others who are new parents themselves, you can share advice, stories and find ways to support one another. Western New York has many different groups, events and meetings that allow new parents to show support to those facing a similar set of worries.
“They host a lot of great events,” Jess Wheeler of Buffalo said regarding the local group, WNY Mothers of Multiples. She has found this group to be an extremely helpful support system during her transition into parenthood.
“In addition to play dates, they have ‘Mom’s Night Out,’ family activities, and monthly meetings. As a mom to twins, it’s hard to find people who get it like we do.”
Like WNY Mothers of Multiples, there are many other groups you can simply find through social media outlets such as Facebook. Since some new parents are homebound after their baby’s arrival, cabin fever sets in and utilizing social media groups can sometimes be the best, and easiest, way to find support.
“My Facebook app is the one I use most to access my favorite groups and link me with local parents. Gentle Parenting of WNY is my favorite,” said Kristen Macneil of Hamburg, a mother to two children. “It has been incredibly helpful in navigating behavior and development with my children.”
Local groups and events are especially helpful when you have no one nearby to lean on or if you have recently moved to the area. The idea of exploring a new town or city can be terrifying.
Adding the aspect of being a new parent in a new city only adds to that feeling of fright. Connecting with others who are in the same shoes allows you to feel more at ease during your transition into parenthood as well as your transition to a new city.
They get it
“I love having local women who have gone through my same struggles who can answer questions that are specific to our area,” said Abbe Michele of Amherst. Michele is the mother of 4-year-old twin boys and has found local groups, such as WNY Mothers of Multiples, to be helpful when learning to navigate Buffalo for parenting events and supports.
Many parents utilize these kinds of groups to find pediatricians, hospitals or birth classes because members will give genuine, honest responses.
Along with community groups and groups through social media, you also can find gatherings through your hospital and other support services — such as Women, Infants, and Children. Many hospitals and support service sites have breastfeeding or baby cafés where parents meet and discuss popular topics many can relate to.
Jacquelyn Anderson is a registered dietitian and lactation counselor at Sisters of Charity Hospital in Buffalo. She has had the opportunity to work with many new mothers and help guide them through the crazy ups and downs of parenthood.
She also has had the privilege to be involved with the breastfeeding baby café at the hospital.
“Baby cafes are a great resource for pregnant or breastfeeding moms. It is a drop-in, free program provided by lactation specialists who give moms the support in any aspect of breastfeeding. It can be a helpful tool for any mom,” Anderson explained of the very supportive atmosphere at the Sisters of Charity Baby Café.
These types of social gatherings not only connect you with other supportive moms and professionals, they can inform you on up-to-date research about breastfeeding and other practices that can help you during your venture into parenthood.
For more information on baby/breastfeeding cafes, visit www.babycafeusa.org; or www2.erie.gov/health/sites/www2.erie.gov. for Buffalo’s baby café’s Calendar.
Finding Them on Facebook
Local groups that can be found through Facebook:
— WNY Mothers of Multiples: www.facebook.com/groups/wnymothersofmultiples
— Gentle Parenting of WNY: www.facebook.com/groups/gentleparentingwny