After a challenging day with her newborn, Sarah Rodgers was thankful to get out of the house for a short stroll to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.
It was this trip to the mailbox, Sarah says, that sparked the idea to start a Mums N’ Bubs In-home support group, which has gained lots of support and interest since it was officially launched last Thursday.
“It was my first week at home with my little boy on my own. My husband had gone back to work and I was just having a really difficult day. I met this elderly lady who was delivering newspapers, and I started chatting to her. She told me she was retired, but delivers newspapers because she needed to fill her days with something positive,” the mother of 9-week-old Joshua says.
“I started to realise I had several neighbours who were retired and at home all day, and I wondered if they would like to spend some of their free time with me, a new mum who sometimes needed a little bit of help and company.”
After asking around at her antenatal class if other mothers would be interested in having women from the community pop in to help them out, she says the response was overwhelming.
Sarah soon joined forces with her friend and mother of two Emma Reid to create the Facebook group Mums N’ Bubs In-Home Support – East Auckland.
“All mothers need help at some stage, whether you have no support at all, or you are surrounded by friends and family most of the time. Adjusting to life at home with your newborn is hard.”
Sarah says that even though she knew her husband would be home at 3pm and that her mother would be visiting in a couple of hours to drop off dinner, she was still feeling overwhelmed.
“It made me wonder how many other people were feeling the same way as me, especially that don’t have the same support network that I have,” she says.
The pair wanted to create a safe space for women to come forward and ask for help, without being judged.
“It could be asking for help with anything. A mother might need someone to come over and keep them company, or help them hang out the washing or even just hold the baby so they can have a shower,” Sarah says.
Emma, who has teamed up with Sarah to help run the group, says they are hoping to change the perception that asking for help is a bad thing.
“How difficult the initial days of having a newborn baby are is something that doesn’t get talked about enough,” she says.
“I think with anything, putting your hand up and saying ‘I need help, I don’t know how to do this on my own’ is difficult and it can take a lot of courage.”
The Pakuranga resident says being home alone with a new baby in the initial few weeks can be challenging. “You are still trying to get to know your baby and figure everything out. Is that a happy cry? Is that a sad cry? And you might have hours at home alone with your baby where you can’t figure out how to keep them settled.”
Emma says the group has been inundated with requests to help, but mothers have been slow at accepting the offers of support.
“I think everybody is just waiting for someone else to come forward. Nobody wants to be the first to say ‘look, I need some help, I’d love some support or company’,” she says.
“And we appreciate that inviting someone new into your home to be around your newborn can be scary and take a lot of trust.”
Emma only hopes that the Facebook Group will bring mothers and helpers together.
The pair say that while they will monitor the group and post updates on those in the community free to offer assistance or anonymous requests for support from mothers, they will let mothers and helpers make their own arrangements.
They have also set up an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org, so that those who do not have a Facebook account can also get involved.