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Baby groups and mental health support for new parents

My son checking things out while waiting for a mother’s wellbeing course to start

My experience of baby groups

Going to baby groups was a massive support for me during the first year of my son’s life. I remember going to my first baby massage class when he was 5 weeks old and I was feeling rather frazzled. The kindness of another mum who helped me as I tried to getting everything together to go inside was like a shining beacon of light.

I soon learned that baby groups were crucial for my mental health and wellbeing as a new parent. Part of this was because I felt connected to and supported by other parents at these classes.

These sessions also gave me a place to speak about the challenges of having a new baby. I could also share how I felt about recovering from a caesarean birth and the new limits on my freedom (who knew that popping to the shop would require an elaborate plan). There was also an opportunity to talk about sleeping difficulties and feeling stiff and sore from constantly holding a new baby. And to debrief on dealing with other people’s opinions about how we “should” parent, difficulties with feeding and birth experiences.

I was very fortunate to have found baby classes that were supportive spaces run by skilled facilitators. These facilitators helped to raise awareness of common mental health concerns for new parents by bringing topics that helped to stimulate conversation. And they shared their experiences while acknowledging that not everyone has the same experience because we are all different (and so are our babies).

When baby groups don’t feel supportive

I am very grateful for having such a supportive and positive experience of baby groups. However, I realise that these spaces don’t always feel supportive for new parents.

Sometimes this is because no one is willing to share their struggles. It can feel really lonely and like you are the only one struggling if everyone else is only talking about what they feel is great about parenting and their baby. This could be because no one is willing to be vulnerable or they are not open to us sharing our vulnerabilities.

It can also be hard when we are having a very different experience to everyone else in the group. Possibly because of how we are feeling or because our baby has different needs or is developing differently to other babies.

At other times, we might be falling into the comparanoia trap. This is when we assume that everyone is coping much better than we are or that their baby is perfect. Or when we see ourselves as falling short compared with everyone else. For example, if we don’t think we are as good a parent or we think that we are unable to do things like everyone else. This can knock our confidence and make us feel alone.

When comparanoia hits, we are usually focusing on an idealised version of other people which may not reflect their reality. It can also be important to focus on ourselves. And remember that we are not them. We each have our own story and needs. We also have our own individual challenges to navigate.

Sometimes, we just might not gel with the people in a group if there is no common ground apart from having a new baby. And that is okay.

Finding the right support for you

It can be helpful to acknowledge when spaces are not supportive for you. This is particularly important during early parenthood when you can feel very vulnerable.

To find more supportive spaces, you may want to speak to other parents and get recommendations for groups that they found supportive. Keeping in mind that it can be important to ask them what they found supportive about classes. This is because they may not have needed the same thing that you do.

If you feel that groups are just not your thing, this might also be worth exploring. Many of us can find groups really challenging and triggering for a number of reasons. Maybe you had bad experiences in groups in the past. Or you might feel really anxious or worried that people won’t like you or that you will say the wrong thing.

If you are finding that you are identifying with any of this, you may benefit from some extra support to help you come up with a support plan that works for you. Having some support can make all the difference during early parenting.

If the idea of support feels icky, you might also want to consider reasons why you might be resistant to accessing support.

You may also want to work on feeling more comfortable in group settings if baby groups are a support option that you feel you would benefit from.

Transformational coaching can be a powerful tool to help with any of these challenges. You may benefit from a one off coaching session. Or a coaching package might be helpful if you want to go deeper.

I would love to speak with you about how coaching might benefit you. If you feel nervous about coaching or aren’t sure what to expect, we can also talk about that. Please get in touch by emailing me at or booking a free 15 minute exploratory call here.



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