December 21, 2023 - 3 min read
December 21, 2023

Social Support During the Journey to Motherhood

Friends Hugging

Dear fellow mothers,

As a passionate advocate for maternal wellness and a researcher dedicated to improving social support for new mothers through innovative technology design, I am excited to discuss the profound significance of social support during the journey to motherhood.

The saying, ‘The moment a child is born, a mother is also born,’ eloquently captures the transformative process of women transitioning into motherhood. It symbolizes the evolving identity of a woman in response to the needs of her child and the societal expectations placed upon her. 

Mom and her new baby

Just as a newborn requires constant care, a new mother craves nurturing and support as she navigates this unfamiliar journey.

Recent maternal health research, including my own studies, has increasingly underscored the critical role of social support in promoting the well-being of new mothers. While the postpartum period is undoubtedly filled with moments of joy, it also presents psychological and physical challenges. 

Mom and baby

During this time, support from partners, family members, and friends proves indispensable. 

It not only aids in the mother’s physical recovery but also fosters the vital bond and attachment between mother and infant. Furthermore, it plays a pivotal role in the emotional and cognitive development of the child, influences breastfeeding success, encourages healthy dietary habits, and supports the adoption of overall healthy behaviors. 

Such support is paramount in bolstering a mother’s resilience and self-assurance.

Emotional support, emanating from family, friends, and peers, offers empathy, love, and a sense of belonging, effectively buffering against the inherent stresses of parenting. This support also reduces the risk of postpartum depression and anxiety. 

Informational support, whether from fellow mothers or healthcare professionals, offers valuable advice and shared experiences, empowering mothers with knowledge and confidence to navigate childcare and maternal health concerns. 

Additionally, practical support, such as assistance with household tasks and childcare responsibilities, alleviates the physical and time demands on new mothers, facilitating their recovery and nurturing a closer bond with their child.

Mom nursing her baby

The absence of adequate support is a significant risk factor for adverse health outcomes, including postpartum depression (PPD).

Extensive research has demonstrated that PPD can lead to both immediate and enduring detrimental effects on the health of both the mother and the infant. In mothers experiencing PPD, symptoms can include anxiety, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, diminished maternal functioning, self-harming thoughts, persistent sadness and crying, and feelings of inadequacy. 

Infants, too, bear the consequences through heightened irritability, delayed cognitive development, compromised brain pathway formation, and potential future challenges in behavior, health, and academic performance.

In times past, the support needs of new mothers were often met within multi-generational households and closely-knit communities, where elders, healers, and other supportive figures played integral roles. These interwoven networks not only offered comprehensive and proactive support but also imparted invaluable wisdom to new mothers. However, in many modern societies, including the United States, this extensive support system is often lacking. Consequently, numerous new mothers find themselves grappling with post-childbirth challenges in isolation, inadvertently neglecting their own physical and mental well-being.

As you embark on this remarkable journey of motherhood, please remember that you are not alone. Social support is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity. 

Embrace the network of individuals surrounding you, and do not hesitate to seek additional support if required. If you lack traditional support networks, consider reaching out to local organizations and online communities like the Bumpdate App community for guidance and camaraderie. 

Friends Hugging

Together, we can work towards a world where every new mother feels empowered, supported, and celebrated. Let us nurture one another through the ebbs and flows of pregnancy and motherhood, ultimately creating a brighter future for ourselves and our precious little ones. 

You have the strength and resilience to navigate this journey successfully.

Warm regards,

Annu Prabhakar, PhD

Research Articles written by Dr. Prabhakar:


Written by

Annu Prabhakar

Dr. Annu Sible Prabhakar is a Professor at the University of Cincinnati where she combines her expertise in health informatics technology with maternal wellbeing. She is a passionate advocate for women’s health issues and has dedicated her career to teaching, researching and bringing awareness to the ongoing challenges new mothers face all around the world. She is a mother herself, and understands just how important maternal support is, especially during pregnancy and postpartum.



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