I firmly believe in the notion that ‘It takes a tribe to raise a child’. As parents we are bombarded with thousands of different opinions from a myriad of different sources. They tell us how were supposed to feel, what our baby is supposed to be doing, how there supposed to be developing. Its hard to decide what to believe, I purposefully chose not to read any ‘parenting specific’ books during my pregnancy, focusing instead on books on the pregnancy and childbirth. I figured that when baby arrived i’d just go along with whatever I thought was easiest, and figure out whatever I thought was best from there.
I was also hyper-aware about the lack of knowledge from my friends. I think that by the time most people get round to having babies, at least one of there friends/colleagues/acquaintances of a similar age and stage in life has had a baby. I just so happened to be the first of my friends, and my friends, who as fantastically supportive as they are, they were beginning there own adventures at University…. Meaning I would be left in Huddersfield with a baby and no reliable network of “mum friends”
During my pregnancy I had very little awareness of what natural parenting was or that it would have any impact on how I would parent. When A was born I knew I just wanted him close to me, he just felt so far away in the cost instead he slept in bed with me, he would be fed on demand because that made the most sense to me, and I enjoyed carrying him in my arms and then in the slings I hired from the sling library for purely pragmatic reasons, I hated using the pram on the bus and the sling meant I could walk the dog and carry A at the same time. When A was 6 months old I started using cloth nappies just because they were cute and as A was a skinny child padded him out so his trousers would stay up.
I turned to the internet in an attempt to make connections with other mums. I used Net mums to find local baby groups. I went to the local Sure-Start centre under 1’s group which had fantastic facilities, and there I had regular people that I would talk too and began to make connections with other parents. I took A swimming and began to learn how to overcome my own anxieties about making new friends. I had friends from my NCT class and we met up and travelled around Huddersfield trying out different play gyms and baby friendly activities
But what I found most useful was Facebook, I managed to find the Motherhub, an online community of mums which had a ‘safe room’ for meet ups. It was well run and it was easier to get to know people through a computer, it avoided the initial shock that comes with being the ‘Young Mum’ It was through Facebook that I found the Huddersfield Natural Parenting group. This was the first time that I looked at my own style of parenting and saw similarities in others. I didn’t realise that there was an online community of people based locally who were very baby-led, co-sleeping sling wearing people. My own breastfeeding journey was difficult, but it was something I fully supported in others and loved seeing the full term breastfeeding relationships other mums had. I knew I had found my tribe. People who, while I was at uni, I could go for months without seeing, but when we did meet up it just felt natural. It was there physical and online support, and simply the knowledge that they would be there if and when I needed them with no expectation or obligation that really helps.