Irish business women creating communities and reshaping modern motherhood

When it comes to creating a support network for new mums, Irish women are doing it for themselves says Sophie White


When I was a brand new mother almost as weepy and helpless as the newborn I was supposed to be caring for, I stalked women in the locale in the hopes of connecting. Most of my advances were creepy verging on hysterical, remember I'd been out of the dating pool for years at that stage – and, yes, trying to "pick up" other mums to be friends with is pretty much exactly like dating. It's awkward, the small talk is tiresome and invariably at some point someone's breast will be out.

For millennial mothers who understandably have interests outside of naps, nappies and never-ever sleeping, it's initially a worry: how do I get back to being me?

I had my first baby quite unexpectedly (who knew sex could lead to an infant?!) so none of my friends had kids yet and understandably couldn't get on board with my insatiable appetite for talking about the minutia of newborn sleep cycles and conspiracy theories about colic being an invention by babies to water-board their hapless new parents. I needed a friend.

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Beyond even the simple need for company in the new mother months, I also needed some reassurance that I would feel normal again. In those addled, hectic days as much as we're smitten with this new little creature, it's a massive identity shift and for millennial mothers who understandably have interests outside of naps, nappies and never-ever sleeping, it's initially a worry: how do I get back to being me? How do I marry these two new identities as a woman and a mother?

activities like baby massage and baby sign language are great places to meet other mothers but aside from the financial outlay, these groups still place all the focus on the baby.

Meetups for mums

The supports in place for new mothers are good in Ireland however a lot of the established groups are feeding-centric. It seemed to be a strange disconnect, what about mothers choosing to bottle-feed exclusively? Many activities like baby massage and baby sign language are great places to meet other mothers but aside from the financial outlay, these groups still place all the focus on the baby.

I found my way, as all of us do and when it came time to go on maternity leave with my second baby three years later, I found to my delight that many enterprising young Irish women had spotted a need and were now at the helm of burgeoning communities and businesses supporting new mothers and offering events.

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Mum Tribe

Erica of Mum Tribe hit upon her new venture, organising meet-ups for mothers when she realised the dearth of support for new mums when she had her son two years ago.

"I didn’t realise how much of an impact it would have on my life.  I went from working in a fast-paced, full-time job to going through a difficult birth and recovery.  I had always lived with anxiety but bringing home a brand new baby to care for while my husband went back to work made me realise how little resources were available to me.

Like any new mum I googled everything, and spent the night feeds mindlessly scrolling social media through my phone.  Even though I was connected to people, I felt really isolated and my confidence took a major knock."

"It took me three months to finally muster up the courage to set up my Instagram account, Mum Tribe Ireland.  I wanted a safe space online for mums where they could feel like themselves again, where their worries weren’t dismissed and where they could chat to other mums – online and offline."

"While the meet ups are offline, we have a mum tribe chat and book club which is online - so it means there’s always someone around to talk to or ask advice from."

The response was huge and Erica soon found she was being contacted by mothers around the country hoping to organise meet ups in their areas.

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Morning everyone! . Lots of DMs and emails coming through looking for local #mumtribemeetups! . Here’s the areas that are covered and their #mumtribeambassador: . ?? Cork @mumtribeireland ?? Dublin weekends @_ashy_86 ?? Dublin weekdays @laurenandindi ?? Limerick @hisfriendthefox ?? Galway @carfitz3 ?? Athlone @gingermumlife ?? Carlow @mymooandroo ?? Tralee @pamille ?? Waterford @changing_myworld ?? Dungarvan @ericagenerica ?? Kildare @melenellen ?? Mayo @littlepuddins.ie ?? Meath @michelletmakeupartist . If you would like to join your local group or come along DM and I’ll add you in ?? . . . . . . #mumtribeireland #mumtribemeetup #mumtribeambassador #mumtribecork #mumtribedublin #mumtribelimerick #mumtribetralee #mumtribeathlone #mumtribecarlow #mumtribedungarvan #mumtribewaterford #mumtribemeath #mumtribecarlow #mumtribegalway #mumtribemayo #mumfriends

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"I knew with a small child that I wouldn’t be able to travel the country so I spoke to mums I had connected with and asked them if they would like to become mum tribe ambassadors so they could develop their own groups and luckily they were all up for it."

Follow Mum Tribe Ireland for the latest news and upcoming events.

Mumitude

In 2017, Carly and Ruth of Mumitude were on maternity leave together when they got the idea to set up their business.

"We wanted to meet other mums and attend events with our babies.  A lot of the events in existence were baby-focused.  Although there is a place for those classes, we wanted to go to events at our favourite brunch spots, attend an exercise class with a toddler in tow, practice a bit of mummy mindfulness and go on gallery tours not leaving behind our love of culture, exercise or good food just because we had a smallie!"

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They decided to go ahead and fill this gap themselves creating the Mumitude Instagram page and organising walking groups, brunch meet ups and art gallery tours. Soon the group had a dedicated following and the natural progression was to explore larger ticketed events such as Mind Body and Me, MumiFIT exercise classes and MumiBRUNCH at the Dean. When the first three sold out completely, they knew there was a clear appetite there.

"We wanted to give women the opportunity to maximise their motherhood experience – to come out, have a lovely morning, connect with other mums, talk about motherhood or talk about anything other than motherhood and MAKE FRIENDS. The opportunity to put themselves first! Go to their favourite venues with their baby! Be inspired by those teaching at the events or those attending. And not be embarrassed to say I want to make friends, which isn’t the easiest thing to do when you’re older or going through a major life change such as becoming a parent."

Follow Mumitude for the latest news and upcoming dates including events with Sinead Mooney of MoonsYoga  and Emma Dowling of The Empowered Mama.

Mum Talks

Kara and Lucy also found there was little for mothers beyond the usual baby-related activities when they launched their business, Mum Talks in early 2017.

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We want to give women a safe space, where they can bring along their babies, come solo or with friends to feel inspired and empowered by hearing other women tell their stories

"We found there was nothing for us as women, we wanted to engage our brains while on maternity leave. We also found that there were great events going on that we could no longer attend as they were either too early in the morning or in the evening."

"We had a list of amazing women we wanted to hear speak so we started contacting them, we were so lucky that all the women totally understood what we were about and also felt the same lack of network having had their own children. We set up our social channels and booked the first date so there was no backing out! From there our first ever talk that we did sold out!"

"We want to give women a safe space, where they can bring along their babies, come solo or with friends to feel inspired and empowered by hearing other women tell their stories and impart their knowledge about their specialised subject. We want to bring more diverse events that will give mums the confidence to navigate this stage of their lives. Plus there's hot coffee and yummy breakfast goodies too!"

The next Mum Talks event is Friday 8th February in Dublin and Saturday 23rd February in Cork for more details visit the website or follow Mum Talks on Instagram.

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The Pod Collection

"The Pod Collection was born out of my personal frustration, where I felt I had to sacrifice my style to my growing bump," says Hazel of the clothing business she co-founded with her friend Emma who was a fashion buyer at the time.

"I found the shopping experience had totally changed with bump on board – it was time-consuming and pretty soul-destroying. Options to accommodate my bump were limited – either I wore oversized pieces that didn't fit properly or I was faced with the 'mumsie' looking pieces, and I could not understand how none of these pieces were designed to last beyond the bump."

The two friends, who launched just nine months ago, have designed a covetable range with style and quality in mind that will continue to be eminently wearable beyond pregnancy.

During the course of their research, Hazel and Emma realised that beyond simply looking good, they wanted to take a broader approach to serving the needs of expectant and new mothers.

"We wanted to understand their needs, what their struggles were and what they loved about their journey. We understand how daunting this life change can be, so across all our channels we offer advice, share stories of pregnancy and motherhood, and most recently we have been hosting events for Mamas to Be ensuring that they take time for themselves, meet like-minded women and can feel heard."

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"Our events are set out in an informal, relaxed way, where women can meet others on a similar journey to themselves. Our guest speakers are super informative and create an atmosphere where we all can have an open conversation on the highs, the lows and everything in between on the road to, and through, motherhood. We laugh a lot, the hour of prenatal yoga ends with a big hug and the events just seem to make people relax and leave with a smile on their faces.  That's our aim!"

The next Pod Collection event will take place in March. Follow The Pod Collection to shop the store and keep up to date on news and upcoming events.

Photo by Sestrjevitovschii Ina on Unsplash

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