What do you do if you don't have a baby yet, but you have many unanswered questions?
29-year-old accountant Hlologelo Ramoroko is wondering if she's ready for kids, and has decided that she needs to join a parent group urgently. Online and offline groups are a great way for parents to connect and discuss their different experiences, and Hlologelo thinks she'll find answers to her questions.
Parent24 spoke to her to find out why she believes this is the best option for her, despite the fact that many of her relatives and friends are raising children and she could ask them for insights.
She reasons that unlike her family and friends who are pushing the 'get pregnant agenda', a group of parents who hardly know her will be more objective and will provide the "raw facts".
Let's dive into the reasons women join these groups:
The upsides of joining a mommy* group
*Let's be straight here, the majority of parent groups are made up of mothers and online 'mom groups' are the daily go-to of millions of women, while local groups consist of mostly women. If you know of any local dad-only groups, please tell us about them!
One of the first pros of joining a mommy group is you won't be alone: it's a good idea to be in spaces with people who share similar experiences.
You'll have the opportunity to learn from more experienced mothers, and share your own questions, experiences, tips and advice.
Hlologelo is looking for insights into the birth process, for example, and is hoping to find out the "raw facts", as she describes them.
Even though each persons experience is unique, a new mom can gain an idea of all the variables she could expect, as opposed to the generic 'one size fits all' approach of many parenting books.
And if your mom group meets up in real life, your children will have friends from a very young age. Just like the mothers are building new relationships, their children also building relationships, which makes it a less lonely journey for everyone.
If the mommy group is in the same area where most of the families live, and the children end up attending the same school, it might even make the first day of school less dreadful cause they won't have to worry about making (new) friends.
The downsides of joining a mommy group
Every woman will have a unique experience with the group, there are some negative things that some mothers may come across.
Bullying and shaming could be something you experience in a mommy group, and some women might create a divide in the group, exclude some mothers from activities, be openly judgemental and so on.
Seeing other mothers looking amazing with babies who sleep through the night at three weeks, can lead to comparison and competitiveness for those moms who are finding it harder to adjust to the new normal.
When meeting in real life, it might feel like an inconvenience if you have a little one who is extra active and not great in cafes or at parks with no fences, while some children sit quietly with a few toys.
At times the meeting days and times might also be an issue, especially if you’ve gone back to work and no one else has, or your baby is on a different sleep schedule.
If you're on the fence about joining a mom group, rest assured, other mothers have asked the same questions you are asking now.
They have felt what you are feeling and they have found the best method of support that works for them, and you will too.
Hlologelo has not joined a mom group yet and now that you have read this, let us know if you think she should - or shouldn't, and why.
Share your story with us, and we could publish your mail. Contributions are welcome.