The Importance of Support Systems

When I had my first baby, I was 34 years old — not quite at “advanced maternal age,” but pretty darn close. Despite being a mature mom and professionally trained in early childhood development, I was still nervous. Actually, very nervous. After 24 hours of labor topped off by a C-section, I was exhausted, sore, and worried about how I was going to take care of our beautiful baby boy. I vividly remember thinking, “This child is so vulnerable. It’s up to me to take care of this little miracle. And I am exhausted.”

Alison and Ethan 2

Me and my first-born son

Luckily for me, I had excellent care and was surrounded by family and friends. I knew that I was going to be OK, and I knew this because I had faith in my support system. If I didn’t know how to handle the unknown territory of caring for our new baby, I had resources and support. Knowing I had this help was huge.

Too many at-risk mothers, though, don’t have a support system to rely on. Too many aren’t achieving their full potential as parents because they feel overwhelmed and underprepared, and they don’t have a network of people capable of lifting them up. Too many feel alone.

What is really great and empowering, though, is that we can do something about this.

Nurse-Family Partnership is a non-profit that pairs low-income, first-time mothers with nurses who guide them along from pregnancy through their baby’s second year. The nurses provide home visitations, acting as parenting coaches and mentors to help young moms make the transition to motherhood.

We all know that the best interventions come early, and there is a lot of evidence that this program works to help at-risk families achieve more stability and success. The moms do better at work; the children do better at school. The families are healthier and happier.

A strong, stable, loving parent-child attachment can do so much good, and that good lasts a lifetime and beyond, affecting future generations.

That’s why, for me, there’s nothing more important than helping new moms. I’m such a fan of Nurse-Family Partnership that I’m donating 3 percent of my profits this year to help support them in their amazing work. Folks, you can donate to them directly here if you’re as impressed as I am.

This Mother’s Day, let’s honor the wonderful sense of love and security we get when we’re deeply cared for by being the support system for at-risk moms. Let’s celebrate the individuals — such as the nurses at Nurse Family Partnership — who nurture and guide.

Happy Mother’s Day!

If you’d like to get something beautiful — and practical — for a nursing mom in your life, I’m offering a 30 percent discount this week in honor of Mother’s Day. Just use coupon code mothersday at checkout.