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.

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.


Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.


Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.


Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.


boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.


Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.


Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.


Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this


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I personally found myself wanting more core support in my early postpartum months.

My belly has been through some things.

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It's my personal opinion that this belly deserves some love. So starting with my second pregnancy, I've relied on Belly Bandit's postpartum belly bands (which I own in three sizes) to help support my core, reduce swelling, and begin to activate my midsection after nine months of being stretched to the max.

Here's why I love Belly Bandit:

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As told to Liz Tenety.

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