The change in seasons brings with it a change in life whether that be in relationships, career, etc. Through it all, it is important to have and maintain positive support systems. This can be especially true for first-time mothers.
The Importance of Support Systems
Support systems are defined as a network of people that provide practical and/or emotional support.3
First-time mothers are more likely to be at risk for emotional suffering (psychological distress) and mental illness after delivering their child(ren). Various research studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between both reporting and experiencing inadequate social, emotional and psychological support emotionally during the postpartum period.1 Positive support systems have a unique ability to assist in positive health outcomes for both mother and baby, through personalization and needs matching. Personalization and needs matching involve creating a system that is specific to an individual. Combining the two while developing support systems can maximize success and result in resiliency in motherhood.
Benefits of Support Systems
Having adequate social support can contribute to a higher quality of life. Social support can provide a safeguard against various stressors associated with psychological distress, depression, and anxiety. The goal of motherhood support systems is to protect the mental, emotional and physical well-being of mothers. Social support can provide a safeguard against various stressors associated with psychological distress, depression, and anxiety.1
Different Types of Support
Social support can be divided into two categories, informal or formal support. Informal support systems oftentimes happen more organically through relationship building. Women are three times more likely to speak to someone they find more relatable over seeking out professional help.1 Formal support systems are often sought out and more structured in nature.
Formal support generally has a trained professional as a provider. This type of support seeks to provide supportive and intervention strategies to the birth giver for a variety of struggles ranging from motherhood, postpartum and/or mental health struggles. Formal support unlocks access to specific services and structures that may prove to be beneficial in the healing process. The overall goal for formal support is to gain the knowledge and tools needed to overcome negative emotions that may occur during the postpartum/ postnatal period.2 Receiving treatment from a professional has been shown to be effective, however, women prefer talking with someone who is non-judgmental.1
Peer to peer support may be one of the first support categories to seek because of its relatability. A peer is someone who has personal experience with the same or similar condition as another. Peers can help navigate difficult situations because of their hands-on experience. Utilizing peers as a support system allows mothers to obtain skills and knowledge. Research studies suggest that women want to gain knowledge from a mother that is not necessarily their own mother.1 Embarking on a journey to find a suitable social support method can be a daunting task, however, Pickles and Ice Cream (P&I) is here to help. We offer both peer support groups and classes.
Our peer support groups are:
- Lead by Moms for Moms
- In the evening
There are several groups to choose from including a perinatal loss grief support group, and a teen mom support group. Click this link to find out more: https://picklesandicecreamga.org/upcoming-events/peer-support-groups/.
P&I Classes are just as effective and are also free and virtual! There are various class topics including Baby Care, Breastfeeding, Labor Support, and Nutrition. Each class is open to anyone who wants to learn more about pregnancy, postpartum and more. Click this link to find out more: https://picklesandicecreamga.org/upcoming-events/.
As you can see, there are many ways to go about finding support systems. The key is finding the support that is best for you! Creating and establishing a village of people in your life who are willing to support you and your baby is essential to a healthy life.
Written by: Taylor Neither, MPH
Blog Expertly Reviewed by: Dr. Krista Mincey, MPH, Dr.PH, MCHES
- NIH (2020). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7008558///
- National Wraparound Initiative. https://nwi.pdx.edu/pdf/McIntyreDiffFormalInformalNatsupportListing3pp.pdf
- Highland Springs Specialty Clinic. https://highlandspringsclinic.org/the-benefits-and-importance-of-a-support-system/