Houston Central Doulas

This week, we’ve connected with Kathryn Tipton, licensed counselor at Houston Center For Valued Living and guest blog author today. We were excited when she reached out to us to let us know about her services. We’re especially excited about her virtual postpartum support group. 

 

 

Houston postpartum support group

Isolation Is the Seeming Connection Between Mothers

It’s 2019. We’re more globally connected than ever. Yet many of us struggle with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and self-criticism. Do you know what can be extremely isolating?

Motherhood.

From the outside, it doesn’t look all that isolating. I mean, there are a lot of moms in the world. You see them everywhere! Welcome to this international sorority, motherhood. Where the hazing ritual involves seriously messing up your body (pregnancy and delivery), sleep deprivation, physical pain, listening to crying and screaming, eating one handed, and going days without showering. And that’s only some of it.

The Hidden Side Of Motherhood

We used to live in tribes. We used to be close to other women with kids. We used to see daily life with children. Real. Daily. Life. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Now we live so much in isolation. We come home after birth, and for many, remain isolated at home (for maternity leave or staying home, etc), and our job is to figure out how to keep this tiny baby alive. We have visitors. If we’re lucky, we have family. And if we’re really lucky, postpartum doulas!

But most of those hard moments, are hidden away at home. You know, no one watches you bounce up and down on a yoga ball for two hours holding your baby because that’s the only way they will stay asleep. No one sees you pacing the room at night patting your baby on your shoulder because that’s the only way they will stay calm. There is no one who watches you wince in pain as you try to get the breastfeeding latch right or nurse for hours during cluster feeding. No one sees the bags under your eyes as you sit up to the sounds of your baby crying for their next feed, just as your head hit the pillow.

Facebook Fantasies And Instagram Illusions

What we do see? Hi Facebook & Instagram. Cute professional newborn photos. Pictures of snuggly sleeping babies. Happy friends and family enjoying the company of the new baby.

Facebook fantasies and Instagram illusions. There is a huge contrast between what we see and what we experience. No one posts on facebook “Today I think having a baby was the biggest mistake of my life” or “I don’t know who I am anymore.” 99% of what we see is I’m so in love and baby snuggles are the best. And you might be thinking “I love my baby but do I feel so” in love? What am I supposed to be feeling?” Or “Baby snuggles are great but I seriously NEED to put this kid down right now, does that make me a bad mom?”

Self-Doubt Versus Validation And Connection

Fantasies and illusions contribute to feelings of self-doubt, shame, and self-criticism. The constant conflict between the expectations of motherhood vs the reality of motherhood. We experience the real losses that come with becoming a parent (losing our identity, our sleep, our independence, finances, marital issues, confidence, sex drive, etc) but as women, we often feel pressured to to put on the show that we have it all together. Because somehow if you don’t, you’re flawed.

Real-life dialog contributes to feelings of validation, acceptance, and connection. Oh, you haven’t had time to brush your teeth in two days either? You also had feelings of rage toward your husband/partner? Thank God I’m not alone.

As a therapist, mom, and admitted self-criticizer, I see the importance in helping mothers connect, face to face, in these moments of realness.

Support groups are one way to have a “tribe” and connect with other women who are in a similar situation. However, the problem with traditional support groups is that you have to actually leave your house. Don’t get me wrong: putting on clothes, getting outside, seeing the sunshine, walking around in “the outside world” is wonderful for mental health. I highly encourage it! As a therapist, one of my options for my clients is walk and talk therapy, where we actually walk around at a local park with their baby in a stroller or dog on a leash, etc. Getting out and moving is wonderful to improve mood and a sense of well-being.

But, sometimes getting out of the house can literally take an act of God with a little one!

Some common barriers include:

  • Feeling anxious or unsure about leaving the house
  • Feeling socially anxious about walking in to a group of people you don’t know
  • Worried about timing your baby’s feeding schedule
  • Baby is asleep and you don’t want to wake her
  • Poop explosions.
  • Baby spit up and outfit changes.
  • No access to transportation.
  • Would rather not put in the effort and instead would just like to nap.

And many, many, more.

I do not want time, money, distance, anxiety, or baby poop to be a reason women can’t connect and get support from others. That’s where, Midnight Mommas, my virtual support group comes in.

A virtual support group allows mothers to show up when they can, and leave when they need to.

  • Want to just log in and check it out for 10 minutes? Sure!
  • Can only stay for 20 minutes because you’ve got to leave for a doctor’s appointment? Totally fine.
  • Want to just sit back and listen and not say anything? We’re totally cool with that.
  • Need to walk away to go put your baby down for a nap? You can!
  • Logging in while pumping at work? Totally doable.
  • Haven’t brushed your teeth in two days? We won’t even know.

Midnight Mommas – A Virtual Postpartum Support Group

Midnight Mommas, is a virtual (online) support group for new moms (anyone with a baby 12 months and younger) that live in Texas. It’s virtual because we have to meet new mothers where they are at: sleep deprived and at home in their pjs or yoga pants. Or, perhaps back at work with only a short lunch break. Wherever you are at, whatever the situation, you can log on easily to connect. Whether you’re struggling or not with adjusting to motherhood, you are welcome here.

The group is and always will be completely free of charge.

In additional to providing weekly peer-to-peer support, Midnight Mommas will occasionally have “special topic” Tuesdays and bring in an expert on baby sleep, feeding, relationships, etc.

If you or someone you know is interested in participating in this group, email kathryn@hcfvl.com for information on how to log in to the meetings. More information on the group can be found at: https://www.houstoncenterforvaluedliving.com/midnight-mommas/

About Kathryn:

Kathryn Tipton, MA LPC is a licensed professional counselor at and a founder of the Houston Center for Valued Living in Houston, Texas. She works with new and experienced moms who struggle with feelings of guilt, anxiety, depression, self-criticism, and self-doubt. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) she empowers mothers to break free from harsh judgements, perfectionism, and guilt to find their own journey and meaning of motherhood.