Misogyny is when women finally start reporting sexual assaults and the country's response is to say we must protect our boys from the accusations." -- Kimberly A. Johnson
This is a response to the weeks leading up to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court, but it will be relevant again and again, the next time--and the time after that, and after that-- a powerful man's acts of sexual assault and misogyny are brought to light but he is not held accountable, and the next time victims of gendered violence speak out and tell their truths, and are subsequently attacked, mocked, shamed, and ridiculed instead of believed.
Written by Rachel Brinker
I am the mother of two white males. They are elementary-age: young and gleeful, full of life, kindness, and bravery. I love them fiercely. They will grow up to become US-born white men, probably heterosexual, probably cis-gender. They already have a lot of privilege. The world will only give them more.
I also have my own history of experiencing gendered violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment at work. It started when I was in fifth grade with a male teacher rubbing my shoulders in the middle of class while he was teaching. I was ten. I had to face the decision of whether or not to speak out against my teacher. It was shortly after 1991, when Anita Hill spoke out against Clarence Thomas. I could see from watching the new coverage of Ms. Hill that speaking out against my teacher could come at great social risk. Was it really worth it, or should I just put up with it and keep quiet? Maybe it really wasn't that big of a deal. Except that his touches during class made my skin crawl. Except that it made me feel so angry, so exposed, so used.
As an adult, my internal radar and defense mechanisms became fine-tuned to detect a threat before I get hurt, but the flow of harassment and threat of being hurt sexually hasn't diminished in the 25 years since I was ten. It's the air we breathe as women in this world. We try to find ways to filter the toxicity of misogyny and sexism out of the air as best we can to make it tolerable to breathe, to just exist in the world.
The "filtering" that we do looks different for each of us: parking under the light in the parking lot at night, choosing the route and time of day for our run very carefully, carrying pepper spray, taking a self-defense class, not going on a hike alone, or using a highway rest area alone, choosing one career path over another, choosing our outfit so as not the attract "the wrong kind of attention," trying to avoid the sexist banter at the office, being selective about our exposure to social media and the news, learning how to diffuse street harassers, hurting others before they hurt us, cynicism, defensiveness, skepticism, hiding, exhaustion, rage. Being on the defensive everyday, all the time, is exhausting. This is not news to women.
It's easiest (but not easy at all) for white women; add any other marker of social difference from the norm (gender non-conformity, race, ethnicity, poverty, language barrier, immigration status, mental or physcial disability), and the threat of violence and harassment is even greater. For the 25% of women who experience sexual violence at least once in their life, the defenses we used against the threats we face as women didn't make enough of a difference. It wasn't our fault. It wasn't our responsibility to keep it from happening to us.
We talk about how many women were raped last year, not how many men raped women. We talk about how many girls in a school district were harassed last year, not how many boys harassed girls. We talk about how many teenage girls in the state of Vermont got pregnant last year, rather than how many boys and men impregnated teenage girls.
One of the parenting challenges I take very seriously, along with many other parents of boys, is:
How do I raise my boys so they will not become perpetrators of sexual violence?
What do I do as a parent to make sure my son doesn't rape someone at a party when he is in college?
What do I do while raising him so that he doesn't stand by and passively participate in gendered violence if it is happening around him?
When sexual assault, harassment, and domestic violence come into the national spotlight because of a political or celebrity scandal, we as mothers/survivors feel it. Watching the news, reading comments on social media, seeing the rise of #MeToo and #WhyIDidntReport movements can be re-traumatizing. As much as we'd like to compartmentalize our reactions to these national events and keep them separate from the mothering of our innocent little ones, it's not always possible. We are one person, one body. We love our children and celebrate their innocence, but we also have our own wounds and pain.
Our children touch our bodies without permission. It's part of parenting. Young children assume that they have possession of our bodies. Because of the way the brain develops in early childhood and the bond formed in a healthy parent-child attachment, this is an appropriate and reasonable assumption for young children to make. For a survivor of sexual violence, though, this can mean that we can get triggered when we least expect it, from the actions of the most innocent people in our lives.
Mothering young children feels like having hands on you all the time. A survivor who is breastfeeding her baby, getting climbed on by her three-year-old, or grabbed by her four-year-old could be dealing with very strong conflicting signals and emotions: My body hates being touched this way. I love my child. My child is doing nothing wrong. My body is screaming. I'm touched out. I love snuggling my kid. Don't f*cking touch me. I'm here for you.
Childbirth, breastfeeding, and a myriad of other ways that our bodies are used in peaceful, loving parenting, can all expose us to touch that can be a trigger. A trigger is a sensory stimulus like a smell, taste, sound, or touch, that reminds someone of past trauma. When the body is reminded of the trauma, it goes into fight or flight mode because it feels threatened, even though the threat is a memory of past trauma, not a present danger. The innocent intimacy that children and mothers share is built literally in and on the mother's body. When the mother is also a survivor, this intimacy is built in among and on top of the invisible wounds of the past.
So, how do we honor children's innocence while building adults of the future who understand and practice consent?
How do we raise boys who know at their core that girls and women control their own bodies, when the wider world is going to tell them otherwise?
How do we keep our children safe from experiencing sexual abuse and sexual assault?
How do we honor our own needs when our bodies are triggered by something our child does?
Here are some starting points:
A few months ago, my seven-year-old son wanted to prolong my presence at bedtime. After reading stories in his bed, I would say, "Goodnight, I love you, stay in your bed," and he would quickly and forcefully grip onto my arm and pull me toward him in the bed. He wouldn't let go when I asked him to. To me, it felt like it was his physical expression of possession of my body, not love and tenderness. I would immediately feel a rush of adrenaline and rage. I would say "Let go of my arm" again with a more forceful "mom voice," but it didn't change the pattern of him grabbing me in the first place and the release of adrenaline in me. He still wouldn't let go. I would have to pry my arm away and speak sternly to him about how he needed to listen to my words. The first few nights of the this, I assumed that my reaction was just stemming from being tired at the end of the day, feeling "done" with bedtime, and frustrated that he was trying to make the bedtime routine drag out longer.
But, I realized there was more going on for me in this pattern we were in. For whatever reason, that moment in our daily life, the way my child grabbed me and wouldn't let go when I told him to let go, was triggering me. It sent my body into fight or flight mode as my animal brain remembered all the other times my word "No" wasn't honored. My body was reacting to all the times men had assumed they had rightful possession over my body and my words were dismissed when I said what I did want and did not want to be done to my body.
After several nights of arm grabbing, and me dreading bedtime, this happened: I pulled my arm back away from him, stood up out of bed before he could grab me, and put my hand up between him and me. I said, "Stop. I need to tell you something and it's very important. Grabbing my arm and pulling it toward you is not something you can do to my body. It might be ok for other people, but I'm telling you now, you cannot touch my body like that.
"My body feels upset and scared when someone pulls my arm that way. It is not your fault, and you did not do anything wrong, but I need you to hear that my body doesn't want to be touched that way. Instead, you can hug me like this, or touch my arm like this. Or, you can use your words instead of your body and say, 'I wish you could stay with me longer tonight.' Ok?"
He looked at me, paused, and said, "Ok," like he got it, like he saw me as a person who was in charge of how her body is touched. He hasn't grabbed my arm like that since then.
I did a good thing for both of us in setting a boundary with my son. I didn't damage our relationship, or cause him pain. In fact, I think this moment brought a new level of understanding and respect to our relationship, a place to build from as he grows older and will be faced with his own moments of physically intimate contact with others. Creating these boundaries with your child is healthy, helpful, and part of how we raise the next generation of men who will not harass women, who will not feel entitled to the use of a woman's body.
More than anything, I want my sons to have beautiful and satisfying relationships with whoever they decide to be intimate with. I don't want them to hurt women, intentionally or unintentionally. I don't want my sons to become a part of the invisible statistics that Jackson Katz references above: how many men rape women, how many boys and men harass girls and women, how many men and boys use intimate partner violence to feel powerful and in control. I know doing my part to prevent that starts now, not when they are teenagers. It starts with how I teach them to listen to my words, and to respect the limits I've set about how they can and cannot touch my body. Getting triggered by my child's touch is not necessary a terrible thing-- it is an opportunity for me to teach them about consent. It is an opportunity for me to voice the limits I set for my own body, and have them be respected, which helps in my own healing.
5 Ways to Teach Your Child About Consent
How to Raise a Feminist Son
Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men by Michael Kimmel
Why Kids Trigger Parents with PTSD and What to Do About It
"I'm in so much pain": How the Kavanaugh hearings are re-traumatizing survivors (includes a helpful list of practical suggestions of how to navigate triggering news cycles.)
Postpartum Support International Warmline 1-800-944-4773
Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) Hotline 1-800-927-0197
RAINN- Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network Hotline 1-800-656-4673
Corvallis Perinatal Support Group
Find a Therapist or Counselor
Proud Mama Support Services is offering a free workshop on September 29 from 3-5pm for making a written mood plan. This workshop is geared toward perinatal mental health issues, but is open to anyone who feels they could benefit from taking the time to create their own written toolkit to help themselves move toward healing and wellness, one step at a time. The benefit of having a written plan is not only to help yourself, but also to help your family and friends know how best to support you when you are struggling with mental health or mood issues.
Write It Down: Mood Plan Workshop
Saturday, September 29 3-5pm
Restore Physical Therapy
966 NW Circle Blvd. Corvallis, OR 97330
Facilitated by Sophie Grow, Perinatal Peer Support Group Facilitator
When you are in the midst of a low point in your mood struggle, do you wish you had a set of directions to help find your way back to the things that help you feel better? Do you wish your partner, family, and friends just knew how to support you? In the valleys of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, it is hard to remember the tools and resources you have available to you that could help. A bit of pre-planning can provide you with a written plan that you can rely on when you're struggling, as your personal step-by-step guide toward feeling more grounded and whole.
What to Expect:
As a group, we will do some peer-to-peer brainstorming about practical, everyday actions we can take to respond to mood. Coming together as a community to create individualized plans not only provides the opportunity to learn new tools from others, it also normalizes the idea that providing support for people who suffer with mood issues can look like many different things, unique to that individual. Very often people don't know what to ask for when they do need help. This workshop focuses on gaining tools to do just that.
Drawing from her experience as a perinatal peer social support facilitator and what she's learned about vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy from Brené Brown's The Living Brave Course, Sophie Grow will guide you through a series of writing exercises and reflections to help you hone in on what is most helpful for you in the face of struggle. By the end of the workshop, you will have a written plan on paper--an organized set of tools at the ready the next time you're struggling with depression, anxiety, rage, fear, or intrusive thoughts. This plan can be used to enlist support from family and friends as a sort of guide to how they can support you. This workshop is offered as peer social support, and is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health or mood disorder.
There is no cost to participate. Pre-registration is encouraged, but not required.
While pre-mobile babies are welcome at our regular support group meeting times, please make other arrangements for infant care and allow yourself the time and space to fully be present in this workshop.
Questions or concerns? Please contact workshop facilitator Sophie Grow at email@example.com or 541-221-0708.
In this post, Sophie Grow , postpartum doula and perinatal peer support group facilitator, shares with us her thoughts on why creativity is so important for moms, and how to deal with some of the real challenges to getting time to craft! Check out our DIY Sign Making Party on September 16 and get your craft on!
$20 from each sign will be donated to Proud Mama Support Services to fund our perinatal support group.
I spend A LOT of time on Pinterest. It's like my own personalized magazine full of snarky needle point, parenting tools, and DIY home decor and design. Honestly, it's a way I cope with stress and a way I celebrate my moments of time alone.
However, having spent an equally large amount of time with mothers and fathers during pregnancy and the postpartum year, I know firsthand how negatively the Pinterest goblin of perfectionism can affect a person. I hear stories from parents who scroll through all the endless images of clever DIY projects of unattainable perfection only to feel usefless, self - critical, and not enough.
I am honored to visit many families as a postpartum doula, and almost EVERYONE is influenced by the unrealistic perfectionism of Pinterest/Instagram/Facebook. They see all the home projects they can't pursue because there are new demands elsewhere. There's no time to DIY a dreamcatcher from start to finish when baby has thrush and mom has healing to do. Laundry is just kind of getting done; it mostly lives on the couch, guest bed, or in the laundry basket.
Is Pinterest bad? I refuse to think so. It can be channeled for good!
An artistic project has the power to distract during a high-anxiety time. It provides enjoyment and relaxation. I have seen creativity and play help people cope and heal. Coming together with other craft y and creative people is incredibly inspiring and helps spark the inner "me" to keep daydreaming.
Why is it so hard to DIY a craft project in real life? Pinterest makes is look so easy!
To make something yourself, you need space, supplies, tools, set-up time, creative time, and clean-up time. A typical project might take three hours. As a mom, finding three solid hours of uninterrupted to creative time is about as possible as finding a unicorn. That's how rare it is. Most often I'm too tired to drag supplies out anyway, but if I did I'd be overwhelmed by interruptions and tiny "helping" hands. The Project would be archived with the name "Never Done #23."
For a project that costs $45 in materials, I typically spend $120. DIY means I buy full tubes of paint and a real wood burning tool so I can give my project that Pinterest effect that makes everyone say, "You made this?"
There are significant barriers to giving myself creative space to play as a mom, but I. WILL. NOT. GIVE. UP. That's why I love workshops like Sign-Making Workshops with Blissful Signs and Designs, LLC. and Mom's Art Night with Diana Rose Studio. Creativity in a community setting rocks! Plus, there is the added benefit of learning new skills and sharing supplies costs. I can pay a registration fee and know that I am actually saving money because if I bought all the supplies I needed on my own, it would cost even more. Plus, I wouldn't have access to an awesome teacher, or have the fun of making something in the company of other awesome crafters.
A few months ago I went to my first workshop with Blissful Signs and Designs, LLC.
This was a game changer because these workshops have:
1. Dozens of options in sign designs.
2. A giant selection of paints and stains to individualize my project.
3. An expert and comrades there to encourage me see the project to its end.
4. No set up, no trips to craft store, no tear down, and no interruptions from my kids.
5. Ashley was amazing! Even if I was nervous to screw things up, she was obviously the right expert to encourage me to finish. She made me feel far less overwhelmed and mostly EXCITED!
My inner Creative feels both inspired and a bit caged by this whole parenting gig. I'm not even sure what I like making anymore, but it's fun to try new things and explore. I dropped a lot to be a full-on mom. It's time to branch out and conquer a few fears while achieving a big WIN for my Pinterest-inspired home!
Register by September 7 and see you on September 16!
Signs by Blissful Signs and Designs, LLC.
There's no other physical change for human bodies that is as rapid and drastic as pregnancy. In nine months, the body makes enormous adjustments to the alignment of your skeleton and the placement of your core muscles to compensate for a growing baby. Postpartum physical recovery takes time--as much to a year or more for some bodies--and regaining core strength and stability is a key component of that recovery.
Mamalates, a method of Pilates that is specifically designed with the postpartum body in mind, returns to the Willamette Valley this fall!
Taught by Rachel Brinker, founder of Proud Mama Support Services, this 6-week progressive series is the perfect first step back into core strengthening exercise after having a baby.
Safe and effective for common postpartum issues such as diastasis recti, pelvic floor weakness, pelvic organ prolapse, and c-section recovery, this 6-week workshop focuses on how to safely realign the body and connect with the deep core muscles after the drastic changes associated with pregnancy and birth.
In this workshop, you'll learn safe and effective exercises to begin building strength and stability back into your core. You'll also learn that some movements and ab exercises can be unhelpful and counterproductive for regaining core strength after pregnancy.
With a focus on biomechanics and alignment, Rachel's Mamalates classes will lead you to a deeper connection with your postpartum body as well as a greater ease and stability in the everyday movements of mothering. Babies are welcome to join you during class (pre-mobile babies only, please). Even if it's been months or years since giving birth, Mamalates can help you restore optimal alignment and core stability.
Class starts September 21 and meets every Friday at 9:30am-10:30am for six weeks. Register before September 12 to catch the Early Bird Special. Space is limited to six participants, so register today!
Proud Mama Support Services has partnered with other local businesses to bring you some awesome events, and opportunities to show your sustained support for our perinatal support group. What's better than making a fresh summer fruit pie, going to a yoga class, or making art for your home, all for a good cause?
August 4 - Making Summer Fruit Pies with Chef Scottie Love
Mid August- New Mood Meditation at Pacific Yew Yoga
September 9 - Mom's Art Night - Macrame Tapestry for Beginners at Diana Rose Studio
September 16 - Fall DIY Wood Sign Workshop with Blissful Signs and Designs LLC
October 20 - Morning Yoga at Pacific Yew Yoga
October 14 - Mom's Art Night at Diana Rose Studio
Our Third Annual Corvallis Climb Out of the Darkness on July 21, 2018 was a huge success. Every year we host this event, it gets bigger and better. However, our most important marker of success for the event is if we have created a space where moms and families can come once a year where they feel supported to mark--and celebrate--where they are on their journey with mental health struggles like postpartum depression, prenatal anxiety, OCD, and postpartum psychosis. We lump all of these mood struggles together under one label: Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs).
A huge stigma around mental illness still remains in our culture, even more so when mental illness is coupled with pregnancy and/or caring for an infant. Because people are afraid to talk about it--or just don't know how to talk about it, lots of moms suffer from treatable illnesses for far too long, not knowing that what they are experiencing is beyond normal, is treatable, and will get better with support.
So, the act of gathering in a public place, under a bright sun, is an act of resistance against this stigma. It is a bold and brave move to show up to an event specifically focused on bringing maternal mental health out of the shadows and into the light. So, for that reason, we thank every person who came to the event on Saturday. You are why we climb.
A Look at How Far We've Come
The Climb Out of the Darkness is all about taking a moment to pause and look how far we've come-- in our journey as parents, as people who are working on making ourselves better and our world better for our children, at how much work we've put into our mental and emotional health over the last year, at how much progress we've made. Even if it's just that we got out of the house and made it to the park, that is progress worthy of celebration! We honor every person's journey. We look back so that we can look forward, acknowledging that we have indeed made progress, and we are, in fact, not alone.
In that spirit, let's take a look at how our local Climb Out of the Darkness is growing, and the project that it supports. The Climb Out of the Darkness has been organized locally for four years now, first by local mom Erin Martin, and then by Rachel Brinker starting in 2016. 2017 was the first year that local teams were able to apply as a community project and receive 75% of the funds they raise to support their local project. Proud Mama Support Services founder Rachel Brinker was aware that there was a need for a peer social support option in Corvallis, a support group focused on creating community and resilience for moms, dads, and partners dealing with mood and anxiety issues during pregnancy and the postpartum year. Proud Mama Support Services applied to Postpartum Support International (the non-profit that organizes the Climb Out of the Darkness since 2015) with our idea for a local support group, and our community project was approved. Our 2017 Climb Out of the Darkness brought 30 people to the event, and we raised $900, a huge success for a project that was just a vision at that point.
With the funds we received back from Postpartum Support International (PSI), we began hosting a facilitated perinatal support group at Restore Physical Therapy in October 2017. We began with one meeting every other Saturday. The group is free and open to anyone who wants to attend.
Where We Are Now
So far this year (2018), we have raised $3,100 for Postpartum Support International and our local support group. Our Climb Out of the Darkness brought more than 50 people to the event.
Nationally, the 2018 Climb Out of the Darkness has had over 5,000 participants and has raised over $170,000 for Postpartum Support International and its local community projects.
Our perinatal support group has directly served over forty families since October 2017. Find out more about the group and who we serve here. The group quickly grew beyond the capacity of the space with just one meeting time, so we added a second meeting time in April 2018. Both meeting times continue to be well attended, averaging 4-6 moms/parents per meeting. We are so glad to be able to provide this much needed service to the Corvallis community.
Our Cost to run Corvallis Perinatal Support Group: $5,128
Continuing Education and Training: $300
Facilitator Compensation (including payroll taxes): $3,328
Administrative Costs (marketing, printing, administrative support): $1,300
Group Supplies: $200
Meeting Space: Donated by Restore Physical Therapy (Thank you!)
The Perinatal Support Group is a community initiative of Proud Mama Support Services. We rely 100% on support from donors and sponsors to be able to run the support group and to offer it at no cost to participants. A tax deductible donation any time of the year to our local Climb Out of the Darkness team will help fund our initiative.
Additionally, we are partnering with local businesses to create events to bring you some awesome opportunities to show your sustained support for our support group. A portion of the profits from each of these events will be donated to our perinatal support group.
We also have created a line of apparel, 100% of the proceeds of which will go toward funding the support group. These products are only available for a very limited time!
Thank you to our sponsors, Samaritan Health Services and Restore Physical Therapy, for your generous support. And, thank you to all our donors!
Empower Haiti Together, Shine Midwifery, LLC, Diana Rose Studio, Becky Bricker LLC, Health Haven Studios, Jasmine Birthing Services, Naomi Hirsch Barefoot Books, MidValley Birthing Services, and all the individual donors who have made our Climb Out of the Darkness a success! See you next year!
We often place too much pressure on ourselves to do it all, to be the perfect parent/spouse all the time, to be and do what we think others expect of us. We begin to believe that are worth is tied to ALL THE THINGS we do or are. The truth is, this mindset ends up hurting us more than we know, especially when it comes to being a mom. Beating ourselves us about what we "should" be doing really does more harm than good, and anything that hurts us also ends up being not that great for our kids, either. Our "Quit Shoulding On Yourself" apparel is the perfect reminder for yourself and others that you are enough, you are worthy, you are doing a great job, whether or not you accomplish all your "shoulds."
These products will only be available until August 6, and then they are gone! So, do some early holiday shopping for your best friend, sister, aunt, mother, and get one for yourself as well. We all need this reminder.
100% of the proceeds will go to fund our Corvallis Perinatal Support Group.
Dealing with mood issues like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. while pregnant or postpartum can feel beyond heavy sometimes. If you've had mood struggles or mental illness during pregnancy or postpartum, you get it. You know how dark, overwhelming, and isolating it can feel. It can be physically painful, and is certainly exhausting.
Those of us whose lives have been affected by perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs) know the loneliness and fear that come from struggling alone, fearing that we won’t make it through -- feeling alone, embarrassed, and overwhelmed. Coming together with others in our community at a local Climb Out of the Darkness -- coming together, supporting each other -- is part of our healing and recovery. People have been doing just that all summer long across the US and around the world. This Saturday, it's out turn to gather. Together we know that we are not alone, we are not broken, and we are stronger than we think. We are always able to take the next step in recovery. We are coming out of shame and into the light.
The Climb is a celebration of hope. You may be fighting deep in your own trenches or you may have already recovered, or you might be somewhere in the middle. You belong at the Climb, and you deserve to be celebrated.
Click here to watch a video of real moms, dads, and partners, sharing why they Climb Out of the Darkness.
Many of us began our parenting journey feeling broken, small, afraid and embarrassed, and then we came through -- through time, hard work, and recovery – to find healing, new strength, and connection with others. We are stronger and kinder to ourselves, we are inspired to become a beacon for the next person’s recovery. We want you all to know – we are here for you, we see you, we love you.
Corvallis Climb Out of the Darkness
Saturday, July 21 2018 10am-2pm
Walnut Barn at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park
4905 NW Walnut Blvd.
Pre-registration is encouraged but not required.
No donations or fundraising required to attend.
Family friendly-- Bring the kids!
10am: Welcome, Sign In, Tell Your Story Activities, Kid's Activities, Check out Community Resource Table
11am: Together We "Climb" Up Our Mountain
11:30am: Raffle Prize Winners Announced
11:45am-12:30pm Bring Your Own Picnic Lunch
12:30pm-2pm Support Group Celebration - How Far We've Come (open to all)
Stay and play, make connections, have fun!
"Please, no more onesies!" Ten reasons why onesies are the gift we love to give, but hate to receive, and what to do about it.
I know they are so cute and OMG, those sayings! Those graphics! The puns! The bunnies/elephants/Storm Troopers! It's so hard to pass them up in the store, but if you are shopping for a baby shower gift for a friend, please don't buy them a newborn onesie.
1. Lots of babies are born bigger than the newborn size of diapers and clothes anyway. The baby might not even fit in it. Like, not even fresh out of the womb.
2. Your friends have likely already received or bought more newborn onesies than they will ever actually need before their baby grows into the next size, if they fit into newborn sizes at all.
3. Your friends will likely feel obligated to take a photo of their baby in every piece of clothing they've been gifted, and the challenge of doing that before the baby gets too big, poops in it, or spits up all over it only adds to the stress of those early days of parenting. Trust us, we've seen this play out in real life with our clients, and it stresses them out.
4. Onesies are quite an impractical clothing choice during the newborn time. Newborns don't really like having clothing put on over their heads, and lots of parents are scared their little baby's chicken arms and will break as they try to wrangle them through the sleeves (they won't break, but try telling a new parent that).
5. Newborns have trouble regulating their body temperature, and skin-to-skin with a parent is one of the best places for them to be.
6. If they are not being held skin-to-skin, they are likely going to need more clothing than just a onesie, and no parent of a newborn really has the time to add pants to an outfit. Onesie + pants = more complicated diaper changes (when is the last time you tried getting a skinny, wiggly newborn leg into a pant leg?) You don't want your friends to be cursing your name at 3am, do you?
7. Newborns have an umbilical cord and clamp, not a belly button. It's an awkward thing to maneuver clothing around. Parents are already freaked out by this and worried about things rubbing on the stump. While sometimes it is helpful to have clothing on the baby to protect the cord, there are simpler options than a traditional onesie (like a baby kimono shirt, or a zip-up one-piece sleeper). Plus, air is what is needed for the stump to dry and fall off, so the less it is covered, the better.
8. If you find a onesie you just can't pass up, buy it in a bigger size. Trust us, we work with newborns everyday. They are very rarely dressed in a onesie. Onesies are a great choice when the baby starts to be mobile, so a onesie in 3-6 month size or larger is a great shower gift. Parents really appreciate getting larger size clothes for their babies. In reality, most babies (except premature babies) are out of newborn sizes by two weeks or less. Not exactly the gift that keeps on giving.
9. Your friends are going to need WAY more burp cloths and diapers than onesies. Lots of new parents have no idea that burp cloths are going to rule their lives for the next year (at least). If you are a seasoned parent, do them a solid, and give a gift they will use almost every moment of every day for the next few months.
And the #1 reason why not to buy your friend a onesie:
10. You can contribute to them having professional postpartum support by buying them an hour of postpartum doula services instead. Proud Mama Support Services has a stream-lined system for people to set up an online registry for their postpartum doula support. (Check out a sample of our customized registry pages below!) Gifting your loved ones postpartum doula support means you are giving the gifts of simplicity, rest, and peace of mind even when you can't be there to lend a hand. For new parents, what gift could make a greater impact than that?
Have your friend contact us today so we can set up a registry for her and her family!
Proud Mama Support Services hosts a perinatal peer support group every other Saturday in Corvallis. Here are some common questions people have about our group and who it serves.
Who can come to the support group?
Anyone who is pregnant, recently postpartum, or continues to struggle with issues related to pregnancy, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss, birth, the postpartum recovery, or very early parenting is welcome to come.
What if I don't have depression but I'm still having a hard time?
This group is for you! Depression is just one of many possible ways that a pregnant or postpartum person may be struggling with mood or mental health. Anxiety is a very common struggle and we talk about it a lot in our group. We also help support people who are dealing with scary intrusive thoughts, obsessive-compulsive thoughts and behaviors, traumatic or toxic stress related to the birth or other perinatal experience, and people recovering from postpartum psychosis.
What if I don't have a diagnosis?
It is not necessary to have a diagnosis or to get a referral from your doctor or midwife in order to come to the group. Don't worry about whether you are struggling "enough" to come to the group. We all have bad days. We can all give and get support. This group is for you!
Is there a cost?
There is no cost to participants. We raise the funds to run the group through individual donations and our annual event, Climb Out of the Darkness, a family-friendly event which celebrates the resilience and honors the struggle of those who deal with mental health and mood struggles during pregnancy and postpartum. If you are inspired to help support the work we do through the support group, your generous donation is greatly appreciated.
Do you offer childcare?
At this time, we are not equipped to offer childcare at the meeting space. Pre-mobile babies are welcome to come with you to the group meeting.
Who runs the group?
The group is managed and facilitated by Proud Mama Support Services. We are supported by Restore Physical Therapy, who donates the use of their space, and by other organizations in the community.
What training does the facilitator have?
Our facilitator has attended multiple trainings on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders through Postpartum Support International. She has completed a certificate in perinatal peer social support, and has additional training in Mental Health First Aid, and in supporting parents who have experience infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth or other loss. She is also a trained postpartum doula who has worked directly with postpartum women and their families for over a year.
I feel anxious about group support. I'm not sure it would help me.
We get it. Group support is not for everyone. It may or may not be a good fit for you, and that's ok. In our group meetings, there are both introverts and extroverts. There are people who are really struggling daily with anxiety and depression, and there are people who have been gaining skills for coping with and healing mood issues for a longer time, but have struggled deeply in the past. Wherever you are in your experience, you have a place in our group.
Come try out the group and if you don't like it, that's ok. If you want to leave early or only come one time, that is ok and we won't demand an explanation from you.
My kids are older/I'm not really "postpartum" anymore. Can I still come?
Yes! If you've been suffering with mood issues that stem from your pregnancy, birth, or postpartum experience and they have not been addressed or treated, there is not a magic time when they will just go away. It's never too late to get some support around these issues. We have had women come to our group who gave birth ten or twelve years ago and still found our group to be healing and helpful. Please join us. Your perspective and story is valuable and important.
What if I'm in crisis and I need immediate help?
If you are in danger of hurting yourself or others, please call 911 right now.
If you are not in immediate danger but you need to talk to someone right now, please call one of these numbers:
1-800-944-4773 (Postpartum Support International Warmline)
1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline)
While our support group is not equipped to provide crisis intervention, we do have a crisis protocol and we will respond to an immediate need for further assistance or treatment responsibly.
How many people come to the group?
We usually have between 6-8 people at the 9-11am group and 4-6 people at the 12-2pm group.
Is it therapy?
Peer group support is an evidence-based treatment for perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Our group differs from group therapy because we stay within the scope of peer support. Our facilitator is not a licensed therapist or counselor, and we do not offer any sort of diagnosis or medical advice.
Are babies and kids welcome?
Pre-mobile (before they are walking) babies are welcome to come with you. Some people find that they get the most out of the group if their baby stays in the care of someone they trust and they come by themselves. Older children need to be cared for elsewhere as we cannot offer childcare at the support group. If you want to come to the meeting but are finding that childcare is a barrier, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can dads and partners come?
Absolutely! This group is for everyone. Did you know 1 in 10 fathers experience postpartum depression? If you are a partners/dad who is is struggling themselves, or are coming in support of their wives/partners, we welcome you to join us.
I can't make it to your meeting time, but I still want support. What are my options?
Postpartum Support International has several online support group options. Click below for more information.
Another local option for group support is Hope For Mothers, which meets in Albany.
If you are interested in individual therapy, there are a number of therapists, psychiatrists, and counselors in our area who specialize in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Please contact us at email@example.com or 541-714-5859 and we will help get you connected to a mental health provider who takes your insurance, or if you have any further questions about our support group or the other services we offer. Thank you!