2024 State of Maternal Support Report Presented by Momcozy and PSI

2024 State of Maternal Support Report Presented by Momcozy and PSI

We’ve all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” If you have children, you likely understand exactly what that means—but there’s also a good chance you have never experienced it for yourself. 

Momcozy, a maternity and baby brand committed to amplifying the voices and experiences of mothers to create a more caring and empathetic world, has partnered with Postpartum Support International, an organization that promotes awareness, prevention, and treatment related to maternal mental health. This collaboration, according to Wendy Davis, CEO and President of Popstpartum International, “Supports our commitment to increasing research, which helps us better support new parents.” 

Together, they surveyed nearly 1,200 Millenial and Gen Z moms and recently released a report on the “Support networks and barriers they may face in accessing support,” according to the survey. By involving real moms, “We can share the reality of motherhood and emphasize the essential need and benefits of support,” says Davis. 

The participant responses are eye-opening, though not exactly surprising. Davis told Pregnancy & Newborn, “The results of this project reflect what we may have already assumed—that new moms need support now more than ever.” 

Lalaina Rabary, the North American Marketing Manager of Momcozy, explains, “While we’re familiar with the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ it’s equally vital to recognize the significance of a village to support moms. The results of the survey solidify this pressing and urgent need.”

On a scale of 1-10, moms were asked how supported they felt by the community around them in their roles as mothers. Over 78% of participants marked 8 or below, shedding light on how much societal work still needs to be done to create a true “village” for moms. 

 

What is “The Village”? 

“It takes a village to raise a child” originates from an African proverb, meaning it takes the community to raise a child into a healthy, happy adult. Parents can’t be expected to do it all on their own. The group of people who make up “the village” doesn’t have a singular look—it could be a family living in a multi-generational home, or a tribe where multiple families live together and raise their children together, or it could be a collection of people who are unrelated to each other, like parents, nannies, and teachers. Regardless, a village consists of more adults than a child’s parent(s). 

Sadly, the U.S. is facing a “loneliness epidemic.” We are more isolated than ever before, which seriously impacts our ability to create—let alone maintain—a “village.” In Momcozy’s survey, more than half of the respondents said they either don’t have a “village” at all or that they have “somewhat” of a “village,” which is still not enough to feel fully supported. When asked who they considered part of their “village,” only 14% included their neighbors, and 8.5% said their “village” included in-person community groups.  

Understandably, there are valid reasons why some moms are unable to build a “village,” such as living as an expat in a new country where they don’t speak the language, living in a more rural area with fewer people and resources, and not having any close family nearby, among many others. Outside of these circumstances, though, there’s no excuse for the lack of communal support moms feel. Many have to compensate for the lack of support by paying for expensive childcare, reluctantly quitting their jobs, having fewer children than they’d planned, or hiring help to assist with domestic tasks like cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. 

Effects on the Social Lives of Mothers 

There is a proven link between a mother’s socialization and her mental health. Moms with more extensive social networks are likelier to experience more positive mental health outcomes than those with smaller (or no) circles. Not only does this affect how mom feels in general, but it can also negatively impact her parenting and ability to manage stress. 

Still, even if you have a big group of friends trying to plan a girls’ night out, it’s not always easy to get away from your child(ren) to have some actual grown-up time. Thankfully, we have the ability to call and text our friends, but that in-person contact is lost, contributing to feelings of isolation and lack of a “village.” 

In Momcozy’s survey, only 26% of participants said they engage with friends on a daily basis, and over 19% said they rarely interact with friends. Most moms said they engage with friends weekly or monthly, which is better than never, but also not as frequent as they’d probably like. Similarly, more than 47% of survey respondents said they only interact with other moms/parents outside their immediate family once a month or less. 

The lack of interaction with friends and other parents is all the more concerning when also considering how moms feel after spending time with them. When asked how supported they felt as moms, on a scale of 1 to 5, after interacting with other mothers/parent figures, 86% said 3 or higher, and nearly 85% said the same after interacting with friends. 

Despite the benefits (and emotional boost) of interacting with others, more than 53% of survey respondents said they had never actively sought support from local community groups or online forums specifically for mothers. When asked to elaborate on their responses, several moms said it was because they worry about outsiders judging them, are anxious about the process of getting started, or there simply isn’t enough time in their day. 

Support for Moms Working Outside the Home

More than 55% of survey respondents said they are currently working outside the home, 20.5% said they plan to work outside the home, and 6.8% said they were seeking work outside the home when they participated in the survey. Additionally, 52% said they worked full-time (30 hours or more). 

Still, despite so many moms working outside the home, there needs to be more support in the workplace. Only 20.6% of survey respondents said they considered colleagues a part of their “village.” There’s also a clear need for employer support in terms of childcare. Still, very few employers offer any childcare benefits to their employees, and those that do only provide minimal support. 

Employees also need to support their pumping mothers better. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life and supplemental breastfeeding once the baby has started solid foods through age 2 (or beyond). However, the U.S. does not offer paid family leave, and even the handful of employers that provide paid leave to new parents rarely offer six full months off, so moms who want to continue breastfeeding their babies once they return to work have to pump. 

Fortunately, there are laws in place in the U.S. that require most employers to provide breaks and a space for moms to pump in private, and the PUMP Act (passed in 2022) expanded these laws, making the workspace a little more pumping-friendly. As much as this revised law benefits new moms, companies still only have to pay employees during pumping breaks if they are multi-tasking by working while simultaneously using a hands-free or wearable pump

What Needs to Change

Across the board, it’s clear that society is letting moms down. Mothers are to do it all with minimal (if any) support, and if it’s not impacting one crucial part of our lives, it’s certainly still affecting another. 

In the survey’s final questions, participants were asked to share what kinds of support they felt would be most beneficial and what steps they’d like to see taken at the individual, community, and societal levels to support moms better and foster a sense of community (or “village”) around them. There were a variety of answers to these questions, but the most common included more emotional support, less judgment towards mothers, practical assistance with childcare or household tasks, paid family leave, better/more accessible resources, more communal options for affordable and safe childcare, more social connections, more acceptance of working moms, and more honest discussion on the actual state of motherhood. 

Alone, any one of these initiatives would offer tremendous relief to millions of mothers nationwide. Combined, implementing this level of support has the potential to benefit children, parents, and communities, boost the economy, increase the population rate, and evolve the societal norms by which we raise our children.

Original source of the article: https://www.pnmag.com/parenthood/support-for-moms/

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