Think back to when you first became a new mum – the rush of love you felt, the feelings of wonder and awe over your itty bitty baby you grew from scratch, but also the, ‘can I do this?’ internal questioning brewing inside you.
Now, imagine you receive these wise words from an experienced mum in the form of a letter:
“Believe in yourself. No one could be a better mum to YOUR baby than YOU! You’ve got this!”
This sort of mum-to-new-mum encouragement is what the Mother’s Day Letter Project is all about. And we think it’s just beautiful.
Let us tell you more.
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What is the Letter Project?
The Letter Project, thought up by the Western Sydney University School of Midwifery and Nursing, is basically the sweetest Mother’s Day gift a new mum could receive.
It’s a letter containing heartfelt words, written by an experienced mum, intended to lift a new mum up.
Virginia Schmied from the Letter Project says:
“We thought: What if following birth, a new mother was welcomed and acknowledged by warm and positive messages from other mothers to set them on their journey.”
The Letter Project was launched in May last year and over 150 letters were written by Aussie mums sharing their congratulations and generous words of encouragement and support.
Hand-delivered, the new mums received their letters on Mother’s Day while still in hospital after having their baby. The letters are also published online for other new mothers to enjoy.
“We want to challenge the stereotype of the perfect or ‘good mother’ and the pressure this places on women. We believe that the best way to do this is to share real experiences of women who have been there with those who are just starting out,” says Virginia.
Fostering resilience in mothers
The project aims to make mothers feel resilient because, as we all know, nothing shakes you like a baby. Becoming a mum is also a huge transition and while some worry is normal, excessive worry for both mum or dad can become all-consuming.
It’s important then that new mums and dads have self-belief and also feel supported as new parents.
“Today one in five women experience a significant level of anxiety in pregnancy and after birth and this has doubled over the past decade,” Virginia says.
The letters are aimed to combat this and contain encouraging messages such as:
“Congratulations Mamma, you have just achieved the most amazing thing!”
“Listen to people who give you advice but trust your instinct. You and your baby will figure it out together.”
“Don’t forget to ask for help and please don’t say ‘no’ when help is offered.”
At the same time, the ‘been there done that’ mums are not shying away from being empathetic and acknowledging the challenges new parents will likely experience.
“As someone who experienced fairly significant maternal anxiety, I urge you to talk to people … If the people you were hoping would listen, don’t quite understand, please seek help from a kind, understanding professional … they are out there and they are magnificent,” said one caring mama.
The impact of words
The letters were well-received last year and Virginia suspects they will be again.
“Last year, we were amazed by the look of pleasure on the new mother’s faces when we handed them the letters,” she says saying the mums said things like, “It is so nice to hear such positive words.” “I feel valued.” “I do think I am amazing” and “All mothers need this”.
“We realised how important this was when one woman said to us, ‘I am not sure what to say, it will be wrong no matter what I say’. The idea that it will be wrong is exactly why we are doing this. We want to spread positive messages about being a mother, to change the narrative.
This year, the sweet mum-to-mum notes will be delivered to Liverpool Hospital, Fairfield Hospital, Blacktown Hospital and Westmead Hospital in Sydney.
The project’s founders hope the Mother’s Day letters will become a national idea.
We do too!
Visit the Western Sydney University School of midwifery and nursing if you would like to submit a letter.