New moms need other moms. Period.
Here is a list of free social and support groups that are perfect for you if you’ve just had a baby. Sure, it can be time-consuming to pack up baby (or babies), your own essentials, and get out the door — but give it a try. Don’t stress about being on time. As a first-time mom, connecting with other moms can lift your spirits, ease your worries, and help you feel more confident. Try out these social and support groups to find one that’s a good fit for you.
Hike it Baby | This volunteer-lead hiking group is a fantastic way to get outside with baby, meet other moms, and get moving. The group was a grassroots start up and does not require a paid membership — you just fill out an online waiver and show up the day of the hike. Join the Facebook group: Hike it Baby (Edmonton) and bookmark the Hike it Baby Calendar online. Once you’re a regular, consider leading a hike yourself. It’s easy and so much fun!
New Moms Network | Facilitated by nurses, this program is hosted at your local Public Health Centre. Enroll for when baby is between 6 weeks and 6 months of age. This was my personal favourite. Sure, it took me three hours to just get ready, get baby fed, changed, settled, in the car, and arrive bright and early at 9:30 in the morning, but it was worth it. I met five other new moms there that are still my close friends. The nurses covered great topics, like adjusting to parenthood, depression, safety, healthy eating, and self-care.
Community Leagues | These leagues are unique to Edmonton; they facilitate playgroups and programs, put up playgrounds and facilities, and initiate community developments like parks. Find your local community league on www.efcl.org. There is usually a calendar of events, with a playgroup scheduled for babies and young children that meets weekly or bi-weekly. Pay for an annual membership to support your league. My Downtown Edmonton Community League family membership cost $5 for the entire year, and gets me, Daddy Jones and Baby Jones into free skating and swimming on Sundays at the Downtown Arena and the YMCA.
La Leche League | Feeing baby is your top priority and most time-consuming task as a new parent. La Leche League Canada hosts free community support groups for new moms (and dads, too). It’s an inclusive group that supports women who are working through breastfeeding and finding their feeding groove with baby. You’re welcomed to join in, whether you are pumping, supplementing, formula-feeding or exclusively breastfeeding. Get together with others in your area, swap stories, and feel comfortable.
Baby Laptime at Edmonton Public Library (EPL) | Take your baby to the library for the Baby Laptime drop-in program or other great ones like Sing, Sign, Laugh & Learn. Browse the Edmonton Public Library’s online calendar for dates, times, and locations nearest you. There are fun special programs like puppet shows — watch for those! If you want to check out an enchanted tree, go to the Strathcona County Library in Sherwood Park. This library also hosts Baby and Toddler drop-in programs.
Parent Link Centres | Created by Alberta Human Services, these centres provide opportunities for play, music, reading, and encourage positive parenting and healthy family activities. New parents can drop-in for “Stay & Play” and “Baby and Me” programs. Plus, there are usually free, healthy snacks provided and fresh coffee brewing. Parent Link often collaborates with the EPL to host free programs for young families, like Books for Babies. Find a Parent Link Centre nearest you, like Norwood and Strathcona County.
Which ones have you loved and why?
Share with other moms so they can benefit, too!
Photo credit: Briar Rose Photography a.k.a. the lovely Kaley-lynn A. Hewitt