Mothering in Commune
Welcome to The Village! Thanks for being here 🙂
I will update this page as the project evolves, but for now I will summarise the plans for The Village as a support network/community, and the events and experiences in my life that led me to start this group. I’ll also explain why and how the initial WhatsApp community will function, and invite anybody with comments or suggestions to get in touch with me there or here.
In 2019 I gave birth to my daughter. It was a difficult first labour, and I was surprised at how long it took for me to recovery physically and emotionally, as well as how profoundly this experience affected the first year of mine and my daughter’s life together.
But. I was lucky. I went into pregnancy and childbirth an avid and dedicated yoga practitioner, with a strong connection to and knowledge of my body, and with many incredibly talented contacts in the world of postnatal recovery, birth work, and healing. I put my time and energy towards recovery and came out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.
In the process of healing, I leant on the skills of doulas, osteopaths, Pilates teachers, massage therapists, pelvic health specialists, my health visitor and doctor, and my yoga community. I also had a present and loving husband who truly shares life’s wonderful load 50/50, parents who are close by, amazing friends, and a flexible and supportive employer.
And yet. I still found myself six months postpartum with chronic insomnia and postnatal depression. I felt guilty and embarrassed to be struggling despite all the support I had access to, but more than that I felt shocked and saddened by the realisation that most women who have survived birth trauma or who are processing the intensity of motherhood, do so with barely any of the network of help that I was lucky and privileged enough to have access to/ be able to afford.
This is a key goal of The Village as it develops: to create an inclusive space where all mothers, regardless of background or means, can connect with specialists to support and steer them through the journey of becoming a happy, healthy mother.
In addition to the support that guided me back to health, in my first year of motherhood I couldn’t believe how ill-framed our society’s approach is to mothering, here in the UK. I was (and still am) frustrated by the barrage of sleep training adverts I was shown as I struggled through the newborn weeks. It suggested that my new baby should be silent at night, and that I should happily hand them to childcare in the day, all so that I could quickly fit back into a society that frankly has no room for natural and intuitive mothering.
I am all for well-placed and correctly-balanced childcare settings, and don’t get me wrong I LOVE (and miss) sleeping on my own terms, but the bit that feels natural to me as I write this with my ten-week-old son snoozing in my lap, is that my baby needs me sometimes (a lot 😬) in the night. The bit that does not feel natural to me, is that I must cope with the broken nights mostly on my own, without The Village, the community that should wrap around new mothers and hold them up. Building these support networks is a key aim of this group.
Last but not least, as I returned to work as a mother, I saw repeatedly, that few of the softer skills I had nurtured and honed through mothering were valued in the workplace, certainly not over and above the basic offering of time and availability. I felt strongly, and still do, that I returned to work a more valuable, creative, clear-sighted, patient, and measured version of myself, and I believe that companies need loving mothers at every level of their operations.
The Village will provide mothers and organisations with the tools to help women return to work without guilt or apology, and to understand the skills they bring to the table.
As I develop the shape of The Village, it is likely that in a successful digital form, it will require funding. In order to approach investors, I will need to demonstrate the need for this community. That’s where the WhatsApp group comes in! I will be using the WhatsApp forum to gather together mothers from all over the country (and beyond) to share the tools and thinking that can help us reframe and honour this miraculous rite of passage.
The WhatsApp group will work as follows: each week I will share some brief writing on a key theme or topic of motherhood (e.g. the pelvic floor, mum guilt, returning to work). I will share this thinking on a Monday morning, leaving members with the week to think about the topic. If people want or choose to, the following weekend anyone can share their thoughts, perspectives or experiences that are relevant to the weekly topic. I ask that everyone introduces themselves to the group, but beyond that there is no need for active contribution. You can simply read the content as it emerges week by week.
I will check in with everybody three months in to ask if and how the group has been helpful, and what changes I might make going forward into the following three months. I aim to share six months’ worth of original content, and from there assess how the group/s is growing and how best to move forward drumming up further support.
Thanks for reading! contact me here, on Instagram (@helen_collerton) or e-mail Helen.email@example.com to be included in the community
The Village weekly content
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- The Village – Week 3: The Pelvic Floor (Part 1)After having my daughter Ella, I changed the first question I ask new mums. Instead of ‘How’s the baby?’, ‘Are you feeling okay?’ or a more general ‘How are you…
- The Village – Week 2: Conflicting Emotions(Formerly published as Body Lessons 5: In Two Minds) My friend Daisy said something to me recently that got me thinking. We were checking in with each other during lockdown…
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