Parenthood can be both an exciting and challenging experience for new parents. While it can be a time of joy, it can also be overwhelming and isolating. Having a baby brings many changes to a family’s life, including new responsibilities, lack of sleep, and less time for self-care. During this time, parents may feel like they are navigating uncharted territory and may benefit from the support of others who have been through it before. This is where peer support can play a critical role in helping new parents thrive.
Peer support allows new parents to connect with others who have experienced similar situations and feelings in the past and who can provide emotional support, practical assistance, and informational resources they need to navigate the challenges of parenthood. While volunteers typically have lived experience with parenting and how a baby’s first year brings unique challenges, they are also trained to offer non-judgmental support and guidance during their regular visits with new parents.
Parenting peer support programs, like The Nurture Program at JFS, are based on national evidence-based models. These models have shown that peer support can improve the mental health and well-being of new parents, as well as promote positive parenting practices. Just knowing that other parents have coped with anxiety and stress can be reassuring for new parents and it helps decrease any shame or stigma they might be feeling. New parent peer support program benefits include:
- Reduced Isolation: Being a new parent can be isolating, especially for those who may not have family nearby or a support system. Peer support provides a social connection with other parents who are going through similar experiences, providing a sense of belonging to a community.
- Increased Emotional Support: Peer support provides a safe space for new parents to share their feelings and concerns without fear of judgment. Volunteers offer emotional support and empathy, helping new parents feel less alone in their struggles. It also provides a safe space to share not just challenges, but the joys and small daily victories of parenthood with someone else – it’s always fun to celebrate a full night’s sleep or success with a new food with someone who will be as excited as you to hear it.
- Day-to-Day Practical Support: The first year of a baby’s life can be overwhelming, and new parents may feel like they have little time to take care of themselves. Peer support volunteers can provide practical support, such as meal prep or light household tasks, giving new parents more time to rest and care for themselves.
- Connection to Community Resources: New parents may not be aware of all the resources available to them in the Rochester area. Peer support volunteers can provide information on resources, such as breastfeeding support groups, parenting classes, or financial assistance programs.
“We believe that peer support is an essential part of helping new parents thrive during the first year of their baby’s life,” says Shawna Peterson, Coordinator for The Nurture Program at JFS Rochester. “It can provide a sense of community, emotional support, practical assistance, and information about available resources. Any new parent can benefit from peer support like that offered through this program.”
Are you a soon-to-be parent or currently adjusting to life with a new baby and want to learn more about The Nurture Program at JFS? Call or text Shawna at (585) 380-6082 or complete our interest form to learn more.