In the past few months I have witnessed so many amazing things that have come out of people being connected through the Bellani community. There has been a coordinated effort to bring daily meals to the family of a little girl who is receiving treatment for leukemia, as well as several other individual kindnesses. A friendship that started in Prenatal Yoga and developed in the New Moms and 2nd Stage Groups resulted in one mom being able to help another out with childcare when she was in the hospital delivering her second baby. I was supported in so many ways by my friends from my own New Moms Group (circa 2009) when my mother passed away last month. There are hundreds of examples like this, of Bellani families providing support to one another in big and small ways, sparked by the connections that come from traveling the road of pregnancy and early parenthood together.
For expecting and new parents, these connections can be hard to make. A lot of us are not native Rhode Islanders, or we have friends with older kids or who are childfree. It’s not always easy to find “community” on your own, but it is so important to have people who can share these new experiences with you. There is a community-building concept known as the Third Place Theory, which refers to a place where people gather other than home (first place) and work (second place). Think of MacLaren’s on How I Met Your Mother, or the Central Perk Coffee Shop on Friends. For pregnant women and parents of babies and young children, Bellani Maternity is the Third Place.
It has all of the components. Welcoming and comfortable? Definitely. A closed-door room with a chair for feeding and a changing table, a bathroom big enough to wheel your stroller right in or bring kids in with you, classroom spaces that are set up for whatever is needed from Childbirth Education to Little Explorers Gym classes, and a staff and environment that invite you to hang out for a while and chat. Highly accessible? Yup. Right in Warwick on Route 2, where you know you always have to go for something anyway.
Involves regulars? Well, I registered for my first baby and attended the Naturally Prepared Childbirth and Newborn Basics classes there, then did the New Moms Group, music classes, had a joint 2nd birthday party at Bellani with our New Moms Group friends, came in to buy diapers and nursing tanks when I had my second child, and ended up facilitating groups there shortly after! And I’m not alone. Once a person starts coming, they hang around. If you have ever found yourself “just stopping in” with (or without!) your child, you know what I mean. I love coming early before my groups and hanging out after just to catch up with people who stop in, and to share in their excitement about their pregnancy or their baby’s milestones.
Here’s the important one: Both new friends and old should be found there. Kelly and all of the rest of the staff and teachers will treat you like an old friend, so that’s taken care of. And new friendships are made every day, between pregnant women comparing notes on their registries after Hypnobabies, between new mothers going out to lunch with their babies after New Moms Group, between toddlers interacting during Open Gym, and between dads waiting for their little ones outside of Miss Sandy’s dance classes on Saturday mornings.
The thing is, when you decide to sign up for the Pregnancy Support Group, or Little Van Gogh Art Class, or Itsy Bitsy Yoga, you get a knowledgeable, professional, committed teacher/facilitator and a really fun and valuable way to spend some time every week for you and/or your kiddo. But you also get to hang out, connect with other families, and build your community week by week. You get tips on diaper rash remedies, leads on good childcare providers, friends to barbecue with in the summer and trick-or-treat with when the power’s out in your neighborhood due to a hurricane (true story!), or a trusted friend who you can list on your kid’s emergency pick up list at school.
Our next session of groups and classes are enrolling now, so come by to register (or call or follow the links!) and hang out for a while. If you are already part of the Bellani community, leave a comment with your own story of connections you have made here, and share this post with your soon-to-be and new parent friends!
See you soon,
Alana DiMario is a Licensed Therapist and Certified Childbirth Educator with specialized training in the pregnancy and postpartum period, as well as newborn care. Alana facilitates the Pregnancy Support, New Moms, and 2nd Stage Groups at Bellani Maternity, and is also available for additional consultation through her private practice, Essential Parenting of Rhode Island.