Brisbane’s Kylie Ritchie got nothing beneficial out of Facebook pages and other mum and parent group pages. Then she found Mush on a search for mothers’ groups in a forum.
“Although I am 100 percent behind all government/health classes and groups that the hospital and midwives offer, if you’re not ready or are finding it hard to get out, you miss out because it’s all very scheduled. Mush is very much ‘When you’re ready, you’re ready’. Mush is for when you can, and if you can’t, you still can have that online chat.”
She draws on Mush to keep her mental health levels high as mother to a five-month-old.
“Life with a baby is not a change in your life, it’s a completely new life,” she says. “No one can ever prepare you for it. It doesn't matter how much you read, hear, what classes you go to, it’s always going to be different, never what you imagined, and full on. Pre-Mush, I was lonely, isolated and suffering badly from postnatal depression. Now, I feel a bit more confident and am definitely not alone.”
“I think the saying that it takes a village to raise a child is so true. It is just Matt and I in Brisbane. Most family and all our friends are in New South Wales. So having other people knowing exactly what you’re going through, listening with zero judgement, and offering support or a story of their own so you know you’re not the only one, has been a life saver. I had trouble producing milk, and have had Baigh on bottles of formula for two months now. I have had judgement from others, including midwives who are suppose to support you. Not one of the Mush women has shamed’ me or made me feel like I’m a bad mother.”
“I’ve been on the app for around two months now, and I’m leaving the house every weekday. I started with a weekly meet up. The first was in a coffee shop in my area. Five lovely ladies came, and we formed a little group chat on the app where we all share ideas, ask for help, and vent! We call it Pram Patrol. Now, different people come all the time. I have also started inviting everyone to join me walking every day by the water. I’ve had company three out of the five times I’ve been. And I’m hosting our first family get-together next weekend. I’m hoping my wonderful husband can make friends too!”
Mush is the passion project of working mums, Antoinette Marshall and Felicity Morrow, who met with six-week-old babies in arms at a drop-in breastfeeding centre.
“We are passionate about removing the loneliness and isolation that can be associated with motherhood, particularly early on when your life dramatically changes,” explained Antoinette. “Almost a year into our motherhood journey, we decided to create an app, like a dating app for mums. We discovered that Mush existed in the UK (where it has 75,000 users), approached the UK founders, and got on board as the official representatives in Australia.”
The app lets mums connect by baby’s age (even a week makes a difference in the early days!), ask questions (“Anyone got a sterilizer they don’t use?” “Where do I get a baby passport photo taken?”), and match to other mothers by interest (the top three interests in Australia are ‘wine’, ‘chocoholics’ and ‘multi-taskers’).
Even on days you can’t get out, you can feel part of the community with Mush guides, cool and down-to-earth blog-style pieces about motherhood written by mums for mums.
“It’s hard to make friends at the best of times but imagine if you’re sleep deprived, and haven’t showered or left the house in a while. It's important in a country like Australia where mums can be isolated by a partner’s work, or living in another state from family support. That can lead to feeling alone as you do the toughest job on earth on your own.”
Melissa Jacobs from Melbourne agrees that the app is a great isolation-buster.
“Post-Mush life is much more enjoyable. Pre-Mush, I had one friend with a baby and two friends from my mothers’ group, and they are lovely, but I still felt lonely.”
Mel has a nine-month-old daughter.
“When I heard that Mush was up and running in Australia, I started searching nearby and easily connected with 20+ mums. Then I changed my search to mums nearby with babies of similar age, and each time I searched there was a new mum and bub to connect with. I like that an initial search automatically defaults to the closest mums, making it easy to avoid adding someone who is 40+ kilometres away!”
Helen Hodges of Adelaide has made contact with four mums on Mush, and caught up with two in person. She has a 21-month-old.
“I’m all about meeting other people and living a full life, and learning off others. So the more people I met, the merrier! It’s good for my little boy, Ollie, too. He gets to learn that making new friends is part of life.”
The two mothers Helen caught up with were living within a kilometre or two, and had babies the same age.
“Being connected with other mums who are going through the same phases as you is essential! They understand exactly where you’re at and what our children need. I have other friends whose children are older, and even though they have been through the same experiences as me at some point, because it’s not ‘real’ for them anymore, it’s not as easy to talk through the problems,” she said. “Life with a baby is AMAZING! I love being a mum. However, I found the first six months very challenging. I felt out of control, overwhelmed and helpless, like nothing I did was ‘enough’ for my baby or would make him happy. Getting messages from other mums in the same boat is definitely enormously encouraging.”
Mush is free and has an 8,000-strong community in Australia. Download it at the App Store or Google Play, letsMush.com
Image by: House of White
This is a sponsored post by Mush.