PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The weeks and months after a baby is born are often filled with joy and love as a family celebrates a new member. But they can also be stressful and isolating for the mother.
A West Michigan nonprofit is working to help ease women into motherhood with a little help from others who have been there.
To look at Katy DiMeglio and Christi Gilbert, you’d think they have been friends forever. But their friendship was formed only a few years ago when Gilbert found she really needed a helping hand.
“She would hold Jack and I would fold some laundry,” Gilbert said.
“And we would trade. We just chatted,” DiMeglio said.
“And it was very, very natural,” Gilbert said.
Carrie Kolehouse is on the board of directors of MomsBloom, a nonprofit that grew from two moms who found out how difficult and lonely the first few months after a baby is born can be.
“The hardest time to ask for help is often when you’re struggling the most,” Kolehouse said. “As a society, the expectations have never been higher on parents and the support in many ways has never been lower because so many families don’t live by their extended family, they don’t necessarily know their neighbors.”
MomsBloom matched up Gilbert and DeMeglio after the birth of Gilbert’s son, Jack. Jack wasn’t her first baby, but she knew she wanted to do things differently this time around.
“I wanted all of the support that I could possibly gather so that I could connect with my son right away. I feel like I really missed the first six weeks of my daughter’s life and I didn’t want that again,” Gilbert said.
The help the volunteers provide can be basic, from folding a load of laundry to holding the baby while mom takes a nap or a shower.
“The moment you can see those moms gain that confidence or that understanding of like, ‘My instincts actually might be OK here,’ it’s just so fulfilling. It’s just wonderful,” DiMeglio said.
Both women agree MomsBloom is good for dads, too. Gilbert said her husband had peace of mind knowing she was taken care of when he was away at work.
“Having this person come in who’s your advocate and supporter, who’s nonjudgmental, who knows nothing about you can be a game-changer for a lot of women,” Kolehouse said.