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Mums4Mums celebrates two years of helping new mums

New mum Taina Borges with her five-month-old son Anthony. Photo / Talia Parker

New mum Taina Borges with her five-month-old son Anthony. Photo / Talia Parker

A Bay of Plenty charity is making sure new mums don't have to do it alone, and now they need more volunteers to continue their work.

Saturday, September 3 2022, is the second anniversary of Mums4Mums, an organisation that pairs experienced mums with new mums for a few hours a week to help them find their way.

Mums4Mums helps address the overwhelming stress and isolation that new mothers can experience.

CJ Dafoe, founder and managing director of Mums4Mums, said it was "mind-blowing" how quickly two years had gone.

In those two years, she said the Tauranga-based charity had helped more than 44 families. It had amassed 3000 volunteer hours over almost two years.

Mums4Mums founder CJ Dafoe with volunteer Tina Darlington. Photo / Talia Parker

Mums4Mums founder CJ Dafoe with volunteer Tina Darlington. Photo / Talia Parker

She was inspired to start Mums4Mums when she was working for a different charity, and was asked to send a support person to visit a new mum of twins.

Having no one else to send, she volunteered to go herself - and the requests have been coming ever since.

"Mums are really doing it rough out there, with no support or inadequate support ... they're just doing it on their own."

When Dafoe arrives at a mum's house for the first time, she will often burst into tears.

"Mums have been white-knuckling it - holding on for dear life, and having such a sense of failure and inadequacy in what they're doing."

She said the issue of mothers' mental health is "like an elephant herd in the middle of the city centre causing a traffic jam. We've got a big problem".

She said she and her volunteers work to "build [mums] up ... and give them hope and reassurance that they've done a great job, and now we're going to support them in their journey".

"It's very bespoke, what mums need - some just want us to come and have a coffee, because this is a lonely place to be. [They've] got four walls and a baby ... they just need someone to talk to."

Other mums they help are migrants who struggle with going to doctors or other appointments because of language barriers, or mothers with twins struggling to manage both babies.

She'd had requests to expand the service into Taranaki, Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch and Hawke's Bay, but first it needed more volunteers in the Bay of Plenty.

With 70 police-vetted volunteers on the books, it is hoping to expand into Rotorua and Whakatāne next year, so Dafoe said it's "desperate" for volunteers.

Donations from Seeka, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Findex, and the Western Bay of Plenty District Council had been "really great" support.

Te Puke woman Taina Borges is a new mum to her first child, five-month-old Anthony.

Borges said Anthony had struggled to sleep both at night and in the day, leaving her feeling exhausted and frustrated, thinking she was doing everything wrong.

So, her Plunket nurse recommended Mums4Mums, which she said has changed everything.

Borges said a volunteer comes to her one or two days a week for two hours. The help gave her the chance to catch up on whatever she needed to do, such as cooking, showering, or resting herself.

"It's just brilliant - sometimes, you just need that."

Now that Mums4Mums is there to help, she said she's "more relaxed, because I know I'm having a rest ... I can enjoy my time with him more."

She said Mums4Mums makes "such a big difference for us, especially new mums".

"We're still learning how to deal with everything - when we are more relaxed, when we are rested, we can enjoy motherhood much more."

Mums4Mums volunteer Jae McCormick. Photo / supplied

Mums4Mums volunteer Jae McCormick. Photo / supplied

Jae McCormick had recently become a Mums4Mums volunteer, and said it had been "awesome" so far.

When she herself was a new mother, she had help from a charity called ParentAid, and wanted to do the same for other mothers.

"All I wanted to do was sleep ... that sheer exhaustion, you never forget that."

McCormick, a chiropractor, said she had seen first hand "the stress and overload that mums are under".

She said the past two years had made mums more anxious and isolated.

"You can have a Zoom chat with your parents, but it's not the same as having someone here just to have a coffee with."