OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

How to Fill the day alone?

Being a first time Mum can be an incredibly lonely experience without sufficient partner, family & friend support around a new mother.

Photo of Michael

Written by

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

How can motherhood be made easier so it's not just a child, pet and mother with a pram waiting until a partner arrives home or for family and friends to visit while on maternity leave?

How does this research relate to our use cases and personas?

Different women have different challenges. No experience is the same.

Tell us about yourself:

I am MPH candidate & former CPA.

Are you currently an employee of Sutter Health or UCB Pharmaceuticals?

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

Thank you for your contribution. My research asks very similar questions; I am interviewing parents in Iceland, France, and the U.S. I want to know how mothers (and fathers) find support after having a child. To apply my research, the final product may be a community, support group, or something else entirely. Parents need support during this tumultuous time in their lives.

In my personal opinion, I believe a long, paid parental leave for mothers and fathers would help a lot. The policy would need to be devised with a gender equity mentality, or gender biases and stereotypes would persist. Cross-cultural research can examine the efficacy of similar policies in other countries, so the U.S. can craft the best policy for all involved. Of course, everybody would need to support gender equal parental leave. We need a supportive government, work environment, home environment, and society to make it work.

Photo of Michael

Drake, sounds fascinating. Did you ever consider the idea of motherhood/fatherhood day camps where a series of activities would be carried out on select days of the week? Almost similar to a work day but with their baby & tailoring to the needs of mother/father to increase social interaction .

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

I love this idea. Would it be through employers or a community organization? Do you have any real-world examples of this?

The social interaction aspect would help a lot with new mothers and fathers. They would be able to support each other as they experience all of the challenges of being a parent. Support programs could even help with postpartum depression. They would help mothers have realistic expectations of motherhood, support each other socially and emotionally, and de-stigmatize the guilt and shame of asking for help. Natalia Tsymbalenko 

Photo of Natalia Tsymbalenko

Yes, social isolation is one of the major contributors to mental health difficulties. The social groups are organized by local communities and hospitals, mainly on "breastfeeding". I know they struggle to raise attendance.
New moms, especially first-time breastfeeding moms during the first months, feel that "going somewhere" is overwhelming.

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

I could imagine a support program that includes a more general emphasis for mothers. What if they had a separate group for fathers? And met a couple times as couples? Parents need support in all aspects of their lives, and not just breastfeeding.

How can we raise attendance for these groups? Could there be an online aspect to it, such as an app or website? First-time breastfeeding moms could get the support they need without having to go somewhere. Could we create social groups aimed at new parents that focus on other activities? For example, a parental group that meet each week to prep meals for the week, and discuss the challenges they faced that week.

Photo of Natalia Tsymbalenko

Fathers groups - never heard of those, that might be one of the ideas that need to be tested.
Yes, I agree, breastfeeding groups limit the topics to be discussed. Interestingly, one of the leading organization in maternal mental health says that "MMH health is not sustainable due to low attendance", so they emphasize mothers-baby groups -

How can we raise attendance? - We need to talk to moms)
Online meetings are very helpful and USED. Facebook groups, and support meeting calls by postpartum support international -
The problem with the current online support is that is targeted to already diagnosed or selfdiagnosed moms with postpartum depression. But majority of the cases are not diagnosed and underreported. Only severe cases will force moms to accept the difficulties and start finding resources labeled as "postpartum depression"

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

I can understand why MMH groups are not sustainable. There is still a stigma about mental health, and people don't want a label attached to them. Instead, they should re-name groups as support groups or parent groups or something that does not elicit a negative reaction.

Thank you for sharing these support groups. Online groups should be open to all mothers and not target diagnosed or self-diagnosed mothers. Mothers may not want to accept help or be shamed. However, a support group may be more acceptable.

Of course, any program needs to speak to mothers and fathers, and input their suggestions. My own research can help inform new programs, which I plan on applying my research as the final product. (You can read my contribution entitled "Cross-Cultural Parental Support" for more information on my research).

Photo of Michael

I believe one Mum said she found meet-Ups very good for mother interaction.

A proposal could be a number of events run during the day so Mums could pick & choose how long & when to go to assist with feeding schedules and rest time during the day.'

Some Mums may stay most of day & some may go for one activity or return later in the day etc.

Same could be conducted for Dads and a mixed group could be carried out too.

Could be as simple as a walk in the local park & coffee after or someone presenting different options for different events parents can attend.

May also be an idea session where fathers/mothers could pitch ideas etc.

Another idea could be a cooking class so meals are made to help with the daily chores but with more personal interaction but also fulfill a daily task to make the day easier.

Photo of Arjan Tupan

I like the idea of groups and meetups. And for many they probably work. In The Netherlands, we also have several websites that post things to do for people with children. There's a lot to find out there. And sometimes it simply takes going to a playground near you.

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

Can you provide links for those websites?

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Just posted a separate contribution, with at least two links. I think they both show the possibilities. See Rate, curate and share stuff to do .

Photo of Michael

I think community groups so a network csn develop closer to home for the parents.

I really like the websites provided but I feel the idea for example of museum kids would be difficult for some parents to get motivated to go or still a little harder to make interactions if a little cut-off.

I feel a personal invitation to an event by health care professional or organizer tasked with creating appropriate events would be great and perhaps more effective & address the issue of attendance if a list could be complied with permission from the parents given to be contacted with events on a personal level. While, also checking in. In Ireland, there was a voluntary community mothers program but that ceased . Perhaps, a group approach could be established rather than an individual focus which had home visits for new mothers etc.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

Hi Michael. Thanks for starting an interesting conversation on the importance of companionship and support for new parents. There are many local community organizations that provide programming for new parents, and expectant parents. Here are some examples from my area in NYC.



Using tech to get ideas and make connections:
Here is a recent blog post about "how to meet new mom friends in NYC."

Photo of Drake Van Egdom

Thank you for sharing. Those sound like extremely helpful resources.

Photo of Chuck Ruud

Hi Natalia and Drake,

I just posted an inspiration page on this topic called "Yahoo listserves helping expecting parents and parents in Brooklyn NY". They are localized in-person and online parent groups. They have sub-communities for every walk of life, interest or need, including dad groups. Take a look. I hope this helps you in your research. Here is the link:

View all comments