So imagine this: you just delivered your rainbow baby (a baby born after a previous loss) and you have spent a few weeks getting to know each other at home and settling into a routine. You still have anxieties and fears about losing this baby too, but you have decided that you are feeling brave enough to venture out into the world with your newborn and want to join a mama and baby group.

6 Tips for Navigating Baby & Mama Groups with your Baby Born after Loss

You and baby arrive at your new mama’s group, sit down, and then you have to introduce yourself to what you want to be your new mommy friends, but something just starts to not feel right. As you say your name and smile back at this hopefully mommy friend-to-be she asks the innocent question that is just not so innocent, “Is this your first?”

Ugh! Your heart sinks and you are reminded within the first few seconds of baby and me group that navigating mamas groups, even now that you have a rainbow, is still hard and really confusing (as is most things during life after loss).

If you can relate to the above scenario then I am so sorry, but I also want you to know you are not alone.

This is what happened to me after I brought home my rainbow. I wanted so bad to make other “mommy friends” that I joined a new mamas group. I thought that now that she was here I could attend these mama and baby focused groups again as when I was going through pregnancy after loss no matter how much I wanted to go to prenatal yoga or needed to attend another childbirth education class I just could not bring myself to do it. It was too fragile during pregnancy after loss. I just knew that if someone asked me these tough questions like, “Is this your first?” I might breakdown in tears and be looked at or judged as a crazy lady. So I avoided, hid from, and ran in the other direction of anything to do with mama groups during pregnancy after loss.

But after your rainbow is in your arms, going to mama and baby groups should be easier right? Ah, wrong. The ladies in my new mama and baby group were lovely and I was able to connect with them on many levels when it came to relating about traveling the road of learning how to live with a tiny human, but there always seemed to be an underlying disconnect. I’m not sure if I can place my finger on it but it was as if I felt years older than the mamas in my group, not necessarily wiser, but defiantly aged. Also, sometimes when they would talk about their mama fears of baby not being in the weight percentile they would like or the in-laws over staying their welcome I would get defensive, judgmental, and shut down.

I thought to myself, “Really, this is the stuff you worry about? I mean I could relate, but I also…couldn’t.”

And on the other mamas end I got this weird vibe that they didn’t really want to relate or reach out to me. Maybe it was that my guard was already up, but I just think that sometimes when we go in and tell our story of loss other non-loss moms look at you like you might be carrying a highly contagious infectious disease called “my child died” and they might catch it too. So naturally, they stay away. I guess what I’m saying is that imagined or not, I felt that I really, just didn’t belong.

Does that make sense? Maybe not, but even with all of these crazy mixed up emotions I realized I still wanted to make connections to new mamas and for the duration of my child’s life (which I hope is longer than mine) I will be forced into these groups of some kind. So, I picked up some skills for navigating mama and baby groups along the way. Here is what I have learned:

1. Be prepared for emotions.

You never know what might come up. Maybe another mama has a boy and you lost a boy and that is triggering. Maybe another mom in the room has the same name as your deceased child. That happened to me during baby yoga and I was thrown for a loop for like the next 45 minutes. It wasn’t until I got to savasana or the end pose that I started to get a little composure back. Oh, and after the session I cried my eyes out in the car on the way home as I thought, “Why does she get her Nora and I don’t get mine?”

2. Brace for misunderstanding and unintended rudeness.

I am a true believer in the idea that all people are essentially good at heart and don’t want to harm you or hurt you, but it just happens sometimes. I will be the first to admit that as a bereaved parent and new mom I am easily irritated and offended. It’s just part of grief. So be prepared for when you go to a new baby and mama group for people who will say the wrong thing, even if they are trying to be nice. You all know what I’m talking about. Innocent questions like, “Is this your only child?” set me off and other comments that might be said out of kindness really irk me when non-loss parents say them. Like, “Oh, you are so strong.” Blah, blah, blah! I want to say, “I’m strong because it’s the only choice I have.” But, I just hold my tongue because I realize ultimately these non-loss mamas mean no harm. They are just at a loss for what to say.

3. Shop around for the right group.

Not all groups work and some just aren’t the right fit and that is okay. It’s nothing against the mamas in the group or you. You just might not jive with one another and believe it or not this happens in mama and baby groups where someone hasn’t experienced a loss too. So feel free to look for and find the ‘right fit’. It may take a while, but believe that your tribe is out there.

4. Tell your story, or don’t tell your story, just know that it’s up to you how you move forward.

When you enter a new group it’s normal for people to want to share about what has brought them to the group. In this case most likely your new baby, hence mama and baby groups. But you might dread sharing your story because it brings up too much pain for you or you fear what the person on the other end of the conversation might say. Know that going into these groups you get to choose how much or how little you share with others. Maybe you aren’t ready to share your whole story and that is okay. Maybe you feel that you can’t speak your truth without sharing your whole story and feel that you just need to get it out there. Guess what, that is okay too. Just know that it’s your story and you get to decide how it is shared, not shared, or kind of shared moving forward.

5. Search for groups specifically for the loss mom or pregnant/parenting after loss mama.

You know that pregnancy after loss group you were in, well why don’t you make that your new mama and baby group. Just extend the program a bit. Not in a group yet, then search for loss mom groups and parenting your rainbow group. I bet they are out there as I know there are some in my area yet they are few and far between, but a group full of loss moms will definitely be a great support for you as you travel this journey. I mean those are the ladies that really ‘get it’. Am I right?’

Oh, and you can also check to see if there’s a PALS Meet-Up in your area!

6. Make your own group

Finally, maybe there just isn’t a group for you in your area. I have a friend that found that to be the case and you know what she did? She just created her own! She is quite brilliant though as I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it, but if you do steal her idea and courage, make your own group in your area. PALS has a program where you can start a PALS Meet-Up in your area. It might feel scary, I know, but in the long run probably worth it.

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