Brief summary of our suggested approach to establish a relationship with a pregnant or new mother

A small group of willing mothers develop a relationship with a local clinic/NGO/Church/etc. who can identify and ask pregnant or new mothers if they would like to connect to another mom in the community to form a supportive relationship (initially for 4 months only, although this could be extended if the relationship is progressing well). The idea is to support a pregnant or new mother who might be young and/or have very little support and few resources to prepare her for this new and crucial role of parenting. Extreme cases of addiction and substance abuse will be very challenging for laypeople to deal with and should be avoided. Support could mean:

  • creating the time and space to share and reflect on the many hopes, feelings, experiences, and concerns that accompany pregnancy and the early days of parenting.
  • sharing valuable information that will enable the mother to see new opportunities or solve problems or challenges that she is faced with.
  • but, most importantly, it is about being a consistent, caring presence who the mother feels she can count on during the ups and downs of this new journey.

Using provided tools, the moms get to know each other through mutual biographical interviews that guide the conversation during the first four monthly visits (in a public space initially). The idea is to help them move their relationship beyond stereotypes and charity and to connect as equals and friends – “human essence to human essence”. It allows space for them to reflect on what is important for their children’s development at various stages. If after 3 months the mom reaching out feels that the relationship is strained and not viable, the 4th meeting is the final one as planned, otherwise she will ask the new mom if she would find it valuable to continue the relationship after the 4 months. Hopefully, a new long term relationship has formed which will benefit not only this child, but future children and both mothers and their families in various ways. This is cause for celebration: around the wellbeing of our children, a small bridge has been built to connect our divided communities. The more of these bridges we build, the smaller the rift will become over time. However, if the relationship doesn’t continue, during the final meeting the new mom receives a hand-out with information that will help her support the development of her child during the first 1 000 days, and a small gift for her child. It is also important to ensure that she is connected to all the structures and organisations that can give her support.