This summer, we launched Mamahood Meetup, a comforting haven nestled in the Center for Wellbeing & Happiness (CWBH), where new moms gather to share, learn, and find support through this unpredictable yet heartwarming chapter of parenthood. This welcoming space finds its origins in a thoughtful initiative sparked by Joalis Silva, a cherished CWBH instructor and a new mother.
A local Women, Infants, Children (WIC) program played a pivotal role in supporting Joalis and a group of new mothers during their crucial stages of pregnancy and childbirth. WIC offered invaluable encouragement for breastfeeding, especially during times of formula shortages and recalls. The program’s proactive approach, including pre-birth coaching, provided expectant mothers with essential guidance and reassurance. It became the nucleus for moms to come together and form a breastfeeding support group that began with three people and evolved into a party of fourteen.
“We kept telling new moms, ‘Hey, there’s a breastfeeding support group. They meet every month,’ says Joalis. “We kept adding new moms, then before we knew it, it was a party. Our babies are growing every month. We’re seeing things and reaching different milestones. So it went from breastfeeding to everything.”
The WIC group not only empowered individual moms but also fostered a sense of community among them. It became a sanctuary for moms to share wisdom and form lasting connections that extended beyond WIC to the CWBH.
Inspired by a mission to reclaim the space that was taken away by a funding gap for her WIC group, Joalis sought to coalesce the sisterhood of her lost group with CWBH’s nurturing space to create Mamahood Meetup.
With help from Kiera Del Vecchio, CWBH’s Program Manager, Joalis’ vision to provide a platform where the real experiences of motherhood could be openly discussed and celebrated was brought to life.
“When you’re a mom, especially a first-time mom, you feel like you’re alone,” says Joalis. “So to be in this group, it felt like somebody gets it. Somebody’s also there with me in the trenches.”
Stepping into this space, mothers find a facilitator in Lorain Alba, a seasoned mom of three and an experienced early childhood educator. With Lorain at the helm, Mamahood Meetup is becoming a place of practical wisdom and camaraderie.
“I am not the one with all the answers. I am a parent. I am an educator,” says Lorain of her facilitation. “I may approach something different than you may approach it, and I think talking about it to different groups of people, getting different perspectives, will [allow you to] make a more informed decision. You don’t have to agree with everybody or you can agree with everybody and just take the parts that mean the most to you.”
The essence of Mamahood Meetup lies in its authenticity and the diverse stories of its members. Whether a first-time mom or one who’s journeyed through motherhood multiple times, every parent’s voice matters here. It’s a space free from judgment, where moms can connect, find solace in shared experiences, and navigate the often challenging path of parenting side-by-side. It is a reflection of the beautifully chaotic labyrinth of every mother’s individual path and the universal bond that weaves them together.
“I think it’s important for people to have outlets because a lot of moms are by themselves,” says Lorain. “They’re with their children. They don’t really know how to meet other moms or connect with other moms, especially if their baby’s so young. They’re not going to the park, they’re not going out to libraries, and they’re alone. They’re home alone dealing with all their thoughts, their frustrations, their attachments, their mom guilt. All we really have to do is get together and meet with other moms to realize, ‘Oh shit, this is normal. They’re going through this too. That happened to them too.’”
For the first session of Mamahood Meetup at the CWBH, our Mind Body Studio was set up like a playpen where the moms could feel comfortable and their babies could explore their environment within safe boundaries. Lorain created a safe space for the moms to engage in free-flowing conversation and become familiar with one another. Joalis’ daughter Maria even took her first steps! The format was open-ended, but Lorain intends to continue the sessions in the fall with a topic of the week — such as development, early childhood literacy, social emotional wellbeing, and parenting styles — while still encouraging the parents to guide the conversation.
The Center for Wellbeing and Happiness invites other new mothers to join us in Mamahood Meetup—a safe, nurturing space where real stories and practical advice intertwine to foster a sense of community and understanding that only fellow mothers can provide.
“When you give birth, you’re a completely new person,” says Joalis. “Moms are the best. We should be venerated.”
If you would like to sign up for Mamahood Meetup, visit the Classes page on our website.