Groups for New Moms in Chicago
When we started a Chicago-area company focused on smoothies for pregnancy and postpartum, we quickly learned about a local network focused on the prenatal and postnatal spaces. Within this ecosystem we’ve met companies truly committed to solving real needs within the community. One such organization is Linda Szmulewitz’s The Chicago New Moms Group.
We first met Linda at a local Chicago event hosted at metta baby (an infant wellness studio in Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood). Linda shared with Lēto how great it was to learn about a product that is specifically designed for prenatal and postpartum moms to benefit health and wellness (and we love that!). Now, we’re thrilled to be able to share Linda’s top tip for new moms, and a bit more about her group for those looking to get involved.
Chicago New Moms Group Background
The Chicago New Moms Group is an educational and supportive program for moms of babies 0-6 months old. There are groups for 1st time as well as 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) time moms.
The group provides a place to come together with other moms who are sharing many of the same experiences at a time when all of the adjustments and changes in life can feel over overwhelming and also isolating. The group provides a safe, nonjudgmental and confidential space to share all of the intense feelings that come up at this time of transition. It is also a space to find answers to many of the questions that moms have around topics related to feeding, sleeping, soothing, relationship challenges, decisions related to returning to work or staying home and so much more.
Moms can expect to meet other moms who are at a very similar stage of life who echo many of the things that they may have been thinking/feeling on their own. It is a place to develop a community of support. Each group forms a close and connected cohort of up to 14 moms that usually remains connected for years following the end of their session.
Anyone who became a mom (whether by giving birth, surrogacy, adoption or a partner who gave birth) in the 6 months prior to the start of the session is a fit for The Chicago New Moms Group. The majority of moms in the group have babies who are in the 4-12 week range but moms can participate with babies up to 6 months old.
The Chicago New Moms Group is different from other new moms groups in that there is a solid cohort of up to 14 moms who spend a very intense period of time together (as well as regular contact in between our meetings) which develops a level of trust and understanding that is different from many other social meet ups.
The structure of the group provides both time for moms to talk about the things that they are thinking, feeling and experiencing at this moment as well as then providing a discussion topic that we dive more deeply into in the 2nd half of each session. In many sessions, there are some moms who don’t really say much but really are just there to take it all in.
Linda says she is always amazed at the end how much even the ones who say nothing throughout the whole time really benefit just from the experience of being in the room. Not everyone is a social person. Not everyone is comfortable speaking about their feelings, which is why the educational component is so important. It takes the pressure off of those who aren’t as likely to speak up and allows them to benefit as well. It also gives moms an opportunity to practice getting out of the house with their baby and caring for their baby outside the comfort of their own home. These are really important skills that moms need to learn but are sometimes reluctant to do if they are going someplace where they are worried about needing to feed their baby, or that their baby may cry or they may need to change their baby. In the group, all of these are things that they can do and they know that they are in a safe space to do this. It allows them to practice before going out into the “wider world."
Why Linda started The Chicago New Moms Group
Linda shares that she started The Chicago New Moms Group several years after her own daughter (her 1st child) was born when she too learned how overwhelming and isolating the experience of having a first baby can really be. She shares, “I was very much “bowled over” by the intense adjustment and the feeling moms really need a space to process all of this change but also to normalize the experience. In the 11 years since I have been running the group, I have seen moms form incredibly close connections with the moms from their group. Many moms describe it as a “life saver” and “the best thing they did on their maternity leave."”
Linda’s Tip for New Moms – Trust Yourself!
Wow! Just one tip? So hard! Trust yourself. I absolutely do not think that moms are born knowing how to be mom or that when you baby is born, you will have instincts for how to care for your baby or be a mom. I think it is a learned experience. There is SO much information out there for new moms and it often becomes very overwhelming and leads us to not trust ourselves. I would love for moms to trust that they are the best mom for their baby NO.MATTER.WHAT and the more you start to tune into your child and tune out the noise, the more confident you will start to feel in the job you are doing as your baby’s mom. I can’t help but also add though that if you feel like the experience of becoming a mom is leading to feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, intense anxiety or loss of interest in things you used to enjoy, please reach out for help. Many moms suffer in silence. You are not alone and there are some incredible supports out there for postpartum moms. Postpartum Support International is a great place to start and has a directory of resource.
What Linda prioritizes related to food/nutrition for moms post-baby
As a new parent, we are often short on time. There is ALWAYS something to be done, someone who needs us and never enough time to care for ourselves. I regularly have conversations with moms in group about how to find ways to eat healthy to fuel their bodies and maintain the intense amount of energy that our children require from us. I often remind moms that the best way to care for their children is to take care of themselves. Part of this is making sure you are eating healthy meals which is often very hard to do when you are short on time.
Why Linda Loves Lēto Foods Shakes!
I love the idea of healthy smoothies for moms. No one has time to eat at this stage of life (especially postpartum) and in particular, we are often doing things one handed, so easy, healthy smoothies are so perfect for new moms to have on hand when they need to keep up their energy but often end up gravitating towards less healthy alternatives that may be easy. Smoothies are so perfect! And, unlike your coffee, it’s okay if it gets cold 😆
Written in collaboration with Linda Szmulewitz, LCSW
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and does not substitute for medical advice. Always consult a medical professional or healthcare provider related to medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment.