It’s the last thing you think about when you’re pregnant. In the third trimester especially, all you want to do is get that baby out, reclaim your ankles and become the gorgeous, new mother cliché you see in all the magazines. You know – the smug wench who’s beautifully made up, with fresh a blow dry, a serene smile and a burbling, happy baby.
The reality of course, is somewhat different. Post-birth, you’re exhausted, you smell of sour milk, and are baffled beyond belief at the noisy scrap that – horror of horrors – has no ‘off’ button. To top it all, your mother, who you’ve clung to like a rock of sanity for the past two months, suddenly announces she’s had enough of hands-on grandmothering thank you very much. She’s off home with an ‘it’s all down to you now, darling’ and the shock of true responsibility hits you like a speeding truck.
Of course, you could hole up in your dressing gown, continue to forget to brush your teeth and lament on the tortures of sleep deprivation versus waterboarding. Or, you could get dressed, get out of the house, and join a mother and baby group.
I won’t lie. They’re usually the kind of set-up you poured scorn over as a pre-pregnant, foot-loose citizen. Discussing the merits of mashed carrot, little Johnny’s multi-coloured poos and the virtues of muslin squares are hot topics. But now the chips are down, what you need most are companions in adversity. And a mother and baby group is the perfect place to find them.
There are plenty of fabulous groups in town – see page 64 for a full listing – but here are five worth checking out:
The kind of group to aim for if you prefer a structured approach to meeting other mums, this music and movement class means there’s less pressure on newbies to make conversation. Baby Angels is designed to help improve babies’ gross motor skills, with lots of singing and actions and the chance to meet other parents in the well-deserved coffee breaks. Once your tot reaches 12 months, they can also graduate up to the Wobblers class, which concentrates on developing movements and responding to simple instructions (that’s the babies – not the parents).
British Orchard Nursery, Jumeirah, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 3pm-4pm, ages 6-12 months. Favourite Things, Dubai Marina Mall, Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays, 9.30am-11am, ages 1-2 years. Dhs85 per session. 050 745 8289; www.babyangelclasses.com.
An ideal place to head to when your brain is bursting with those silly baby-related questions you’re too scared to ask, like, ‘Why does my baby smell of cheese?’, ‘Is green poo normal?’or ‘How on earth do I cut my baby’s fingernails?’ Midwife Deborah Williams is a voice of sanity in the insane world of new arrivals, so pop in for a coffee, ask her anything you like, pick the brains of other mums and take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one floundering around in the early stages of motherhood.
Cooper Health Clinic, Umm Sequim, two Sundays every month, 11am-noon, ages newborn-24 months. Free of charge. 04 348 6344 / 055 925 8036.
Originally a Facebook group to support mothers with young bubs in the Dubai Marina area, Marina Mums is now a fully fledged support and activity network with a following of 250 members. Founder and mum of two, Deepika Gupta, organises beach picnics, coffee mornings with guest speakers, storytelling sessions and arts and crafts activities. Local business tie-ups and networking opportunities for mums also abound.
050 5547 448
Mums and tots
This easy-going group for bubs and siblings up to school age is run by mum-of-two Amanda Ebersohn at her house in Arabian Ranches. Sessions include free-flowing coffee, tea and biscuits, kids’ snacks and more toys to play with than your average-sized nursery and regular parties to add to the fun. Perfect for mums who have recently arrived in Dubai, the group has a steady influx of new-comers as well as helpful and friendly long-termers. Sessions always end with a sing-song and dance.
Arabian Ranches, Thursdays, 9-11.30am, Dhs25. Ages newborn-5. 050 456 0413.
The newly opened Seedlings parent and child group is based on the Steiner philosophy – a holistic approach towards learning and play. Sessions are relaxed, the children are not over-stimulated and they play with toys made from natural materials including wooden toys, silks, shells, conkers and knitted items. Each structured session follows a similar pattern and a shared snack is provided by the organisers.
Child’s Play Nursery, Umm Suqeim, Wednesdays 9am-11.30am, Dhs40 per session. Ages newborn-3. 050 984 9370.