It takes a village—to raise a mother

Once upon a time, women of all ages came together to support a birthing woman and new mother. Let’s get there again.

village to raise a mother

Siri: How do I get to the village?

Once upon a time, not too long ago, women of all ages came together to support a birthing woman and new mother.

Young girls would run errands, make cool compresses, and prepare meals. Older ladies would attend births and take care of the postpartum mothers and newborn babies.

There was no What to Expect When You're Expecting or wet diaper tracking apps.

There was the village. We still say “it takes a village to raise a child," but we're feeling alone.

The village isn't showing up on Google Maps.

We need to find our way there so we can support each other in mothering and motherhood.

Lately, my pregnancy craving has been this mouthwateringly delicious breakfast burrito from a tiny café in my tiny town.

I am lucky to be working part-time, so I mostly indulge my craving on late weekday mornings, a slower time for the café.

I usually order my burrito to go, scroll around mindlessly on my phone until it's ready, and rush home to eat.

This week I had a thought: Why sit at home alone when I can sit here in the café, smelling the lovely smells, listening to brilliance of the Vitamin String Quartet, enjoying these few moments of breakfast burrito solitude I might not have once my sweet baby boy arrives?

I took a seat at the counter and I resisted the scary-powerful urge to pull out my phone. I ignored the newspapers to my left.

By simply being present, I was quickly engaged in conversation with the girl behind the counter about our favorite pastries.

Soon we were talking with an elderly man and listening as he reminisced about the muffins his mother made when he was a little boy.

As people came in and out for coffee, I exchanged smiles and greetings and received well wishes for a continued healthy pregnancy.

I was alone in the café, as was everyone else, but we were all alone together.

It was easily the highlight of my week, and all because I sat in a place with people and put my phone away.

I imaged how wonderful it could be if we found each other, pregnant mamas and new mamas, in this type of shared aloneness. How can we feel all alone, together?

I suppose I could sit in the café every morning and hope for a pregnant or new mother to walk through door, but that might take a while.

At some point I'd probably feel compelled pull out my phone and check my newsfeeds.

Serendipitously, boredom-driven social media logins can be great source of community if you look in the right ways. I found #TeamMotherly on Facebook!

You can cultivate your virtual village by searching for your buzzwords.

Maybe you're into unmedicated birth, maybe you're planning a VBAC, maybe you're looking for other working moms, or maybe you're carrying your rainbow baby.

Whatever it is that has you seeking the village, you'll probably find it in a closed Facebook group, an inspiring Instagram account, or a thoughtfully written blog.

Introduce yourself to your fellow Facebookers.

Save Instagram photos, quotes and links that move you.

Leave questions and thoughts in the Comments section of your favorite blog—the author may respond and you may find kindred spirits.

On any social media platform, there may be occasions to meet members of your virtual village in real life.

I joined an area babywearing group on Facebook, and they get together almost every week.

It is so comforting to know that the village, the mothering community, still exists, and all it takes to find it is a quick online search.

In real life too, I have found that being a pregnancy opportunist has helped me feel less alone and more connected to other pregnant women.

Whenever I am at a prenatal appointment or in the local baby store, I commit at least one posted event to my personal calendar.

Despite my exhaustion from a long day, I recently attended a two-hour breastfeeding class in the late evening, 30 minutes away from home, because I wanted to meet other expecting mamas.

At the wise instructor's behest we all exchanged e-mail addresses and have remained in touch, sharing funny stories and insights.

The information from the breastfeeding class was easily accessible by book or online resource, but finding those three women was not.

That experience inspired me to reach out to the women in my prenatal yoga class, and we are now in the process of planning regular lunches and evening meet-ups

It is amazing how many of us are searching for this type of connection but unsure of how to make it happen.

Here's how: show up to the events, be present and friendly, and ask people if they are interested in staying in touch.

It might feel a bit uncomfortable to follow up (I know it did for me), but guess what? It feels a bit uncomfortable to be lonely too.

Once you get past the initial “let's get together" email, the discomfort subsides.

The loneliness won't.

Just think of how delighted you'd feel to receive an invite to a dinner full of pregnancy/new mom chatter, then realize that you are the person creating that delight for others!

Alone, we reach out to one another. Together, we can set aside the aloneness and discover the village.

In This Article

    An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

    But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

    Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

    Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.

    A crib to grow with your baby

    Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

    First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.


    A safe + convenient car seat

    Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

    The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.


    A traveling nursery station

    Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

    It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.


    A swing for some backup help

    4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

    A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.


    An easy-to-clean high chair

    Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

    Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.


    A diaper bag to share

    Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

    When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.


    A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

    Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

    We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.


    A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

    Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

    Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.


    A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

    Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

    A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.


    A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

    Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

    Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.


    Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

    This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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