Whilst the origins of this phrase cannot be pinpointed, it is entirely possible that it comes from an old African proverb and relates to the care and welfare of a child being the responsibility of the extended family and community – in other words there are grandparents, aunts, neighbours, and older children to share the parenting.
But what does that mean today … in Cheshire?
During the transition to motherhood, a woman will decide what sort of mother she might be and who she will use as a role model. However, as increasing numbers of people move away from where they grew up in search of jobs and affordable homes, the reality of starting a family means there are often hundreds of miles between them and their source of emotional support, practical care, and knowledge. Now this may have benefits for some – no one dropping in unannounced, no unwanted ‘advice’, no annoying in laws (!) It also means that there is no one there offering reassurance, making a well needed cup of tea or simply offering a shoulder to cry on because things have got too much.
I often hear new parents talking about the groups they attend, I see huddles of new mums and dads in coffee shops and parks discussing feeding, new techniques for winding or sleeping and wonder if in today’s society the’ village’ is a fluid group of people who for that moment create that same warmth and stability as an African tribe.
Some parents may start creating their ‘village’ during the antenatal period, through NCT classes or Hypnobirthing groups, but for some new mums it can be daunting to reach out and ask for help, support or advice. A postnatal doula can help and guide parents to take those tentative steps and build their own village.
I have been thinking a lot about how important it is for new mothers to come in to contact with other people in the same position and will be launching a ‘doula drop in’ in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for further developments. In the mean time find your tribe, connect to your village – whatever that means for you and you will realise that you are not alone.