Postpartum Support Invention #1: The A-Team

An A-team is two-four friends that you ask to be
your Allies, your Aunties, your Advocates.  Your A-Team.

They are there when you call, they check on you, they do little special things for you.  They even talk about you behind your back -“she’s having a hard time, what can we do?”  They know when you are doing well, and when you are having a hard time.  They remind you to be loving to your partner, and to yourself.  They know you can be small and lost in big emotions, and they also know your depth, your wisdom, and your brilliance.  And you give them permission to talk to each other, to be nosy, and in your business when you need it.  They don’t ask for permission to sweep your floor.  They just march right into your kitchen and start making tea for you both.  They don’t mind when your partner calls them to say you are struggling -they gave him or her their phone numbers for that reason.

How it works:

Ask two to four friends to be your “A-Team” for a chosen duration.  This could be two months postpartum or six months, or the whole first year.  It is an agreement you set up in the ways that feel right for you.  Maybe they are just “keeping an eye on you.”  You can ask for them to call and check on you on a regular basis, or let you call them when you are struggling.  You can give them permission to talk to one another about you and strategize.  You can ask them if your partner can call them for you.  Allow them to be helpful in other ways -around your house, with your other children, or whisking you away for some self care.

Who is on your A-Team? Someone that you feel very comfortable with and knows you well.  A close friend or a sister.  Not someone who is experiencing crisis in their own lives and is in great need of support themselves.

Why would an A-Team be helpful during the whole first year of your baby’s life?

While babies are the most lovable dear little creatures, mothering a baby is often quite taxing.  It can simultaneously be the sweetest time of our lives and the most challenging.  It is both physically and emotionally demanding.  Especially in the beginning.  A quick look at the world, shows that most mothers of babies live closely with other women who help with all aspects of life.  Really.  My friend from overseas said when she was born, her mom went and lived with her grandmother until she was 9 months old.  Running a household and caring for a baby is a lot in and of its self.  Many moms with little babies also have older children or work outside the home.   Regardless of the individual scenario, it is a full plate and support can make a huge difference.

What is beautiful about bringing this kind of intention to nurturing friendships is that you are giving permission to your friends to be really supportive and by inviting them to be in communication with one another it lightens the load on each of them.  Supporting a friend who needs a lot can feel isolating and overwhelming, but when you get to talk about it and trouble shoot together, it can feel doable, even joyful.

We often need more than simply being loved by people.  Getting lots of  “likes” on Facebook isn’t enough.  We need real-time, heartfelt connection, listening, and practical support.

While at first, talking to your friends about being on your A-Team may feel awkward, ultimately, having some intentionality around the support you may need will make it easier on them.   The A-Team can also be used with any other big transitions -marriage, illness, death, even starting a new business.

This the first post in this “Postpartum Support Invention” series.  Admittedly, the A-Team is a somewhat untested theory.  I have two close friends who are sisters -so it is a natural A-Team without any setting up ahead of time or special agreements.  The next close friend who lives near me to have a baby is getting an A-Team!

So, I need some guinea pigs!  Try out this A-Team concept and get back to me with your experience -either in the comments below or drop me a line via email!

You can read more of my “postpartum inventions” here: #2 The House Fairy, #3 The Mama Sitter,  #4 The Milk Retreat.


5 replies
  1. Sejal Fichadia
    Sejal Fichadia says:

    I love love love this blogpost and I am looking forward to more of the series. Keep writing these blogposts Kestrel. Parts of the A-team motto sounds like the work I do.
    Thank you.

  2. Megan Oien
    Megan Oien says:

    Oh Kestrel, I love this! Truly. The idea of having An A team is so helpful to mothers who may have a hard time asking for help because they don’t want to overburden someone else. The community aspect of the A team makes it fun and easy for the helpers. You’re a postpartum genius 🙂

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