The Benefits of Peer Support

Why mums join groups  

Following on from our initial work setting up mums’ peer support groups in the Scottish Borders 11 years ago, we decided it was a good opportunity to follow up with some of those original mums and to talk to others about informal peer support.

We wanted to assess the impacts, short-term and longer-term, of informal peer support for mums and their children, and to find out if there were any obvious gaps.

We asked people why they joined mums’ groups in our survey and again in interviews.

Most mums had joined mum and baby groups ‘to meet others with young children’ and most said this was ‘to give my child the chance to meet other young ones’.

Some joined “to get information” and a few mentioned emotional and mental wellbeing reasons.

One stated simply ‘I was lonely’ while another said she had joined for ’emotional support during postnatal depression.’ This last person said she gained ‘support and company at a time when I was struggling’. One respondent said her ‘anxiety was too high for joining groups.’

Some of our interviewees expanded on some of this. Some just liked to be busy and have some motivation for getting themselves and the baby organised.  

One mum (who lived in the city at the time) said, ‘I had to have a reason to get out the house. I made sure I had something on every day.’

Friendships for life

A mum with prematurely born twins said of the local twins group: ‘The group was my lifeline; I could meet and discuss everything with people who got me.’

’10 years ago, this group started. Many of our NHS antenatal group had started to pop and we needed to keep in touch. Days were filled with get togethers in coffee shops, hotels, Busybees, breastfeeding group, music on a Wednesday and eventually weekly lunches at each other’s houses.’

These women remain friends and the children’s achievements and milestones provide joy for all of us who have seen them grow.

You can read our full Mums Peer Support Research here: Outside the Box Mums’ Peer Support Research