Mums United

PUBLISHED: 16:31 22 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:53 20 February 2013

Sharing vulnerabilities, as well as achievements, has worked for these<br/><br/>young mothers as they embark on family life. Julie Holden listens in

Having Pip is like all myChristmases and birthdayscoming at once, said Hannah.Pip is six months old with thecheekiest smile imaginable.

Hannah balances him on her knee andthey beam at each other with glee andpure, unconditional love.

Ive worked since I was 16 andachieved a management position whichI felt very proud of, but having a baby...she looks at me in disbelief, its just adream to be called Pips mum. Hannahand her husband James tried for twoyears for a baby and had all but givenup.

But, there have been lonely times,she said. And those moments can seemdark and unrelenting whenbreastfeeding is solely down to you andyou cant even have a shower or eat, letalone leave the house.

Hannah described bringing Pip homefrom the hospital: The first few nightswere awful and I put myself undertremendous pressure telling myself hemust have a routine, he must know dayfrom night. I felt lonely anddisconnected and you realise thatloneliness and isolation can happen toanyone.

Hannah lives in Hadleigh and hasreally appreciated its sense ofcommunity. Hadleigh is so friendly.When you go out a lot of people stopand talk to you; you dont need to knowpeople really well. If I am having arubbish day I can sit in Crabtrees (aHadleigh coffee shop) and talk to thewaitresses and read a magazine. Peoplelaugh because I go out three times a daybut you have to take responsibility for yourself.We invited a couple of Hannahsfriends along (both of whom live inIpswich) to discuss their experiences ofbeing a mum. Emma and Hayleyarrived with their two girls Scarlet andHepsie; both three years old. The girls,dressed in floppy summer hats andpretty cotton dresses, tucked intostrawberries and scones and then gotdown to the serious business ofcolouring-in.

Emma, Hayley and Hannah all agreedthat one thing they needed was toestablish new friends with people whowere in a similar position.

None of my friends had children, itwas quite isolating said Emma. Hayleyagreed: I realised I needed friends whowere going through what Im goingthrough. My friends, who all hadolder children, simply couldntremember what the early stages werelike, laughed Hannah.

But, making new friends can be quitea daunting prospect. Im not good atsharing with people I dont know verywell, said Emma, but, I had to forcemyself to be more open and honest.Hannah agreed. I did find it quiteintimidating but I viewed it likestarting a new job and I remindedmyself that I could do it, she laughs,Suddenly I thought, Oh yes! I am thatperson who used to go to work and meetnew people.

Making new friends is reallyattractive, said Hayley, but you needto share your vulnerability both withyourself, in terms of how you arecoping, and also with others. When youdo this you realise you are not the onlyone going through this. Its nice to go togroups and feel okay.

Reassuringly, they all found thatmaking friends with new mums was nodifferent to establishing other types offriendships. Just because you are amum doesnt mean that you have tospend time with people you dont get onwith, said Hannah. Its all aboutfinding like-minded people, sheexplains.

Hannah giggles as he remembersbefriending a new mum and going toher house only to find her weaning herfour week old baby by feeding him potsof custard whilst he watched LooseWomen on the TV to develop hisconversational skills. Hannahs handflies to her mouth. I didnt know whatto say. I literally dont have the TV onfor Pip; I play with him or take him outto meet people to develop his speech.So, how did they go about makingthese new friends? Hayley, Emma andHannah all agreed that the Sure StartChildrens Centres ran by socialservices are excellent.

They run a great drop in centre inHadleigh, said Hannah. They arethere to offer you help and advice andthey provide lots of things for free.Yes, like crafts, fruit, drinks andbaby massage, adds Hayley. The staffare so enthusiastic and it is great for anhour or two. Its a good way to meetpeople. Hayley uses an Ipswich centre.Public libraries also get a big thumbsup.Ipswich library is very childfriendly,said Hayley. Whilst Kitty (her eldest daughter) chooses books,Hepsie can do a colour-in. Hannah is afan of Hadleigh library, especially as ithas breast-feeding facility. All ofSuffolks libraries run a series ofBookstart group activities for youngchildren.

Hayley and Emma met through Lazy-Daisy-chain birthing and baby classes.I did a hypno birthing and then ababy yoga class, said Emma. It washelpful meeting people my age and whowere around in the day.Lazy-Daisy runs a series of classesacross Suffolk. They also recommendMerbabies near Bury St Edmunds,where they bumped into each otheragain. Merbabies run infant aquaticclasses. DanceEast in Ipswich isamazing with its classes for childrenand Pyjama Drama run creative andimaginative play classes in Kesgrave.Other recommended places to visitare Hollow Trees Farm, Semer andBaylam Rare Breeds near NeedhamMarket. Both have lovely cafes andthey are really geared up for kids. TheNew Wolsey Theatre put on excellentchildrens plays.

Being connected to other mums andbeing able to talk things through makesa massive difference.

Being a mum I am discovering somuch about myself, said Hannah.Every day is new and different and Idont put pressure on myself anymorefor things to be the same every day.I have made friends who I know Iwill be friends with forever, saidEmma.

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