Mum and Baby Groups are great to attend to make new friends, teach your child to interact with others and get support on this journey we call parenthood. But taking your preemie into a room full of coughing, sneezing, “giant-sized” normal babies is a bit scary. But you can manage.
Deciding to go to one of these groups was a big step for me, not just because I am shy and introverted, but because Jack was still on oxygen until he was 7.5 months old and I had a cylinder in tow.
You may get questions that are not simple to answer and comments that are unintentionally hurtful. You may end up giving people a brief version of what happened to defend your baby’s size and vulnerability. Normally when a group starts a new term you all go round the room and introduce yourself and your baby and say their age. People will inevitably ask questions. “Yes, my 3 month old is only 7 lbs, but he was 11 weeks early” I said to defend Jack’s size. Be as open as you like but don’t feel like you have to say anything that may be difficult. I personally don’t mind telling people he’s a preemie if they comment on his size, even now (my 14.5 month old is still wearing 6-9m clothes).
A report by the BBC suggested that Mums are intimidated by groups as they think that it will be clique-ish but I haven’t found it to be so. This is because I chose specific classes that have structured activities rather than just a meet and chat group. That was the key for me.
I took Jack to Baby Yoga and Baby Sensory which have structured exercises and games with your baby so I wouldn’t feel awkward if I didn’t feel up to chatting, and also it’s been brilliant for his development as I discussed in this post. We did nursery rhymes with actions and played with specific toys that help with hand/eye coordination. He loved it! We carried on doing Baby Yoga until he was a bit heavy for me to throw around and this week is the last Sensory class before I go back to work in a couple of weeks time. I may write more about how I feel about that soon.
You may find that you get insensitive comments either directed at you or in the conversation with others, although they really aren’t meaning to upset you. If you can learn to let these comments go, you will enjoy your groups and relax. They don’t know what you have been through so cannot relate. During one conversation about childbirth (it will come up, it’s just what happens when new mums get together, even if you promised you’d never be that mum!) one mum was talking about how all she wanted after the birth was a shower. That stung a little because after Jack’s birth I was in surgical recovery not knowing whether he was still alive and hadn’t even seen him. Everyone has their own story and I don’t know hers, maybe it had been 24-36 hours of labour or more. You must let these comments drift over you or they will isolate you from everyone and ruin your enjoyment of the group.
A couple of things practical things – it’s worth carrying Anti-Bac gel for your hands and/or wipes for toys that get shared among children to at least try and protect your baby from cold germs and I also had a “I’m a Preemie, your germs are too big for me!” sign on my buggy to deter strangers from picking his cute cheeks etc. I found my sign off Etsy and there are a few different sayings and colours.
I hope this helps and reassures you if you are thing about going to a Mum & Baby group as Jack and I had loads of fun at ours! Good luck xxx
Find us on Facebook, Instagram as @lauralorelle and Twitter as @PurpleIsis!
I’ll be doing another post soon about running and am doing a 5k race on 26th Feb – sponsor me!