Finding Services and Support Groups to Help Moms

From the Infant to Teen Stages, Find the Help You Need as a Mom

A picture of moms in a support group
Photo © Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Sometimes parenting can make you feel like every day is your first day on the job. Just as you conquer one stage of your child's life, she enters another one that leaves you wishing you had a parenting manual. There's nothing wrong with seeking support for the issues you face today. Not only will you take relief in knowing there are other parents going through exactly what you are right now, you'll make invaluable connections with families and experts who can help you tackle the countless parenting obstacles you'll encounter as your child grows.

Support for Postpartum Depression

There are a number of reasons women suffer from postpartum depression. None of those reasons should be ignored.

The Centers for Disease Control reports one in nine women suffer from depression before, during or after pregnancy, so you are not alone. Don't hesitate to seek postpartum depression support in your area through Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit dedicated to helping pregnant and new moms find the peer support and educational tools they need.

Another option is to talk to your obstetrician about what you're experiencing. There are many types of PPD but you don't have to try and overcome PPD on your own. Your healthcare provider will be able to pinpoint the resources you need that you may not be able to locate online on your own. You can also call your local hospital. PPD is a real struggle for women and that's why many hospitals have now set up departments devoted to helping women with postpartum depression.

Support for Breastfeeding Moms

Your newborn is so sweet and innocent. So why is she giving you such a hard time when it comes to breastfeeding? There are many breastfeeding issues that may tempt you into wanting to reach for the can of formula. Don't worry, though. This is one of the first problems a mom runs into as a parent, even if she's had more than one baby.

It may seem like breastfeeding comes to other women more naturally while it's a struggle for you. But many times, it's just a matter of finding the right support so you can continue your breastfeeding journey. Seek support from peers who understand what you're going through and can offer encouragement and even advice when you need it most. Even if you've breastfed more than one child, breastfeeding moms know each child is different. There's nothing wrong with seeking advice from the experts and even been there/done that moms.

One place to find the encouragement and instructional information you need is La Leche League. It's safe to say LLLI is one of the most popular support groups for breastfeeding moms, as this nonprofit has been supporting and educating breastfeeding moms for more than 60 years.

If LLLI is not for you but you still need breastfeeding support, you have other options to consider. If you used a midwife or doula, seek them out for support. Even if you gave birth at home, you can talk to the lactation department at any hospital. The dedicated lactation consultants have one goal: to help you and your baby have an enjoyable breastfeeding experience together. If you gave birth at a hospital, you probably even had a lactation consultant visit you in your room to talk to you about breastfeeding and help you with latching on, proper holding techniques and more.

If you ever feel you need some advice or have a breastfeeding question but aren't ready to commit to a support group, call any hospital and ask for the lactation services department. They'll be happy to talk to you by phone or schedule an appointment to help you and your baby.

Parenting Support Through the Early Years

Just when you thought you'd escaped the baby stage of all-nighters and the toddler phase of endless meltdowns, your precious little one has now graduated into a preschooler. What you don't find out until you become a parent is that the preschool age is one of the toughest. Your pint-sized cuties are just old enough to start talking but aren't old enough to fully handle their own emotions.

Every day seems like a new struggle but you can take comfort in finding other parents living a life parallel to your own.

One way to find that solace is to join other moms going through the exact same parenting stage you are at the exact same time. MOPS, short for Moms of Preschoolers, is one of those groups and is a membership-based program with chapters across the United States. Not only do you get some time in to mingle with other moms, MOPS chapters offer childcare while you do. So instead of trying to talk about your child's temper tantrum while she's at your feet kicking and screaming, you can actually get a break while learning how to better handle those parenting situations in a group setting.

Another alternative is to invest in mom's day out. While mom's day out generally does not offer support or groups for you to meet other moms, this program is specifically for babies, toddlers and preschoolers to offer you affordable childcare a few days a week. This means you can get some downtime and your kids can meet new friends. And if you do want to make mom friends through mom's day out, just ask one or two of the moms in your child's mom's day out class out to coffee one morning. Chances are, she'll take you up on that invite.

Parenting Support That Appeals to All Age Groups

As your kids grow and changing, you find you are too. You're outgrowing the support groups geared toward moms of younger children. Even if you're adding more little ones now or in the future, you still find yourself facing new challenges with your school-age children. Everything from a sassy mouth to trouble making friends at school keeps you up at night. You may even be facing mommy burnout because you've been at this so long.

Plus, you need a new space for where you are in motherhood. You need the company of like-minded moms who are in the same boat as you and can help you through the difficult days, the parenting obstacles you're dealing with and also the celebrations of your family's accomplishments. After all, it's not fair to you to be the mom of a teen seeking advice to be sitting in a room full of moms with toddlers who have no experience with that age yet.

There are many groups that offer a more general meeting space for parents. International MOMS Club is one that offers group meetings for you to swap stories, get support and make new friends with moms who are at various stages of parenthood.

If the idea of joining these types of groups is intimidating to you or you simply don't find it appealing, you can always start your own club. It can be anything you want it to be, a small impromptu meeting of a few friends for a girls' night or a more official group open to any moms looking to make friends and help each other through whatever they're going through at the time.

Parenting Support for Raising Special Children

Caring for special children means you typically don't have a lot of time to focus on yourself or even seek the support you need to be the best parent you can be because close to 100-percent of your day is spent caring for your child. That's where groups specifically devoted to providing you with support and resources for your child's particular challenges can be extremely beneficial to your entire family. The best place to start is through nonprofits devoted to those challenges.

For example, Autism Speaks can help you find support groups in your area as you raise children with autism. MDA can connect you with local support for kids with muscular dystrophy. United Cerebral Palsy has an easy-to-use locator to find individual and family support close to you. The National Down Syndrome Society begins putting you in touch with support in your area as early as pregnancy. Easter Seals is well connected in communities and provides families with a number of resources for children and their caregivers.

Nonprofit organizations are an excellent source for finding the support you need as both caregiver and parent as well as locating meetings that can put you in touch with other parents. Many nonprofits can also help you find respite care services to give you some much-needed time to do everything from grocery shop to have a few hours to yourself.