New postpartum peer group prompts new connections
New group meets on two Tuesdays each month
June 14, 2016
Craig — Jo-el Cole is participating in a new postpartum peer support group — a group, she says, that can help her to find some key connections.
"I am a younger mom, so it's nice to be around people who have gone through what I'm going through, or people with the same struggles now," Cole said.
The free group meets at 10 a.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the Center of Craig. It also meets, in the same place, at 6 p.m. on the third Tuesday of the month. It's a product of collaboration between Mind Spings Health and the Parent Education Center, which is a part of Connections 4 Kids.
Liz Kregar, early childhood mental health specialist for Mind Springs Health, facilitates the group meetings.
She said the support group is for women with children up to 12 months old. These may be women, she said, "who want support, help or just a reason to get out of the house." Childcare, she said, is available with a few days' notice.
Kregar said people who are interested can call her at 970-824-6541, or they can call Parent Education Coordinator Trish Snyder at 970-824-1081.
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As Kregar talked about the group meetings on a recent afternoon, she described the importance and the nourishment of strong human support — particularly considering that "having a new baby does not always go as you expect."
She recalled attending the Postpartum Support International Conference in Denver in 2015, which helped to crystalize some of the issues women encounter when a baby is born.
"There's a lot of change, and there's a lot of grief and loss that you go through,” Kregar said. “I wasn't told about all of these things when I had my first, and it would have been very helpful."
Kregar said, too, that she's worked with the Nurse-Family Partnership — a national nonprofit organization that helps first-time mothers — and she's noticed the need for a support group in the area.
The sort of sharing that Kregar says can take place in a support group doesn't always happen in ordinary conversation. Kregar talked about the concept of loss in relation to motherhood, noting the "loss of your personal freedom," along with "loss of your body, sleep, friends and activities."
And isolation, Kregar said, can also pose a problem — particularly during a long winter. A new mother might refrain from going out in large groups out of concern for becoming sick. And simply the pattern of staying alone can perpetuate itself.
"Sometimes you don't realize that you're stuck, and you have to rely on others to tell you," Kregar said. "But then it's harder for those who don't have anybody to tell them."
Cole, one of the new mothers participating in the postpartum support group, has a son who's just less than a year old, along with a stepson who's 7 years old. Like Kregar, Cole said giving birth can create some challenges that new mothers might not anticipate.
"There are some things that happen with your body that no one tells you about," she said. "You don't just automatically lose all of your baby weight."
Cole also mentioned the difficulty of adjusting to new sleep schedules — or not having a consistent one — and the need to establish a good support network of friends. Cole graduated from Moffat County High School in 2015, and she was pregnant during part of her time there.
"Everyone was very nice to me, and very respectful to me, but I didn't carry those friends out of high school," Cole said. "I didn't have that friend support, and that was really hard for me."
Cole said talking to someone in a one-on-one setting can be helpful, but she's also eager to hear the varied viewpoints of a group.
"It would be nice to get a different perspective on being a mom," she said. "No two moms are ever the same, and no two kids are ever the same."
The next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Craig Center.