It started at a prenatal yoga class in downtown Jersey City. But when the future moms were sad to see it end, they started a Google e-mail group. Now, at least 20 downtown moms meet up each Wednesday to share tips and drink beer in their hometown.
The future moms were students at Yoga Shunya, run by downtown yoga fixture, Elaine Hansen.
“When I took my last prenatal yoga class, I was basically sad because it’s such a supportive group,” recalled Julie Boldt, mother of nine-month-old Anthony. In order to address this problem, the students launched Jersey City Yoga Moms.
The fun stuff takes place at Zeppelin Hall near the Jersey Avenue light rail stop on Wednesday afternoons between 4 and 6, and they usually bring their kids.
“We organize workshops, kind of like our mothers had Tupperware parties.” – Julie Boldt
They also organize workshops “kind of like our mothers had Tupperware parties,” Boldt said. Topics can include baby massage, nutrition, CPR instruction from a certified professional, and how to babyproof your home.
They also plan play dates, walks, and Bolt is thinking about organizing an activity that involves painting murals.
The high school of baby lore
Member Annie Schiffmann is the mother of 6-month-old Abigail.
“The women who are still taking prenatal yoga classes pick the brains of the ladies who have already had their babies,” Schiffmann said. “It’s like a high school. The ‘freshmen’ don’t have babies, the ‘sophomores’ have babies up to 3 months old, and juniors and seniors have babies who are 9 months.”
Moms share age-appropriate advice. “They talk about things like how to bundle up the baby, what solid food to give the baby and at what time of day to give it,” Schiffmann said.
Pregnant women have different concerns. Schiffmann said they want to know “what you can expect during childbirth, like, make sure you do this but you don’t have to bother with that, you need to buy this but not that.”
Specifically, do you need a bottle warmer, and what’s better, a single or double breast pump?
And here’s the grand mom of all questions: Should you have natural childbirth?
“Yoga plays into that,” Schiffmann said. “In yoga class, so many women were looking into it and trying to work toward that. You talk to other groups that are not involved and they think you must be crazy if you’re planning natural childbirth.”
The Yoga Moms, she said “have a very open minded mentality. If you’re working hard to figure out breastfeeding, they have a gentle open minded approach.”
Much of this has to do with the atmosphere at Yoga Shunya. “Elaine teaches the prenatal class, and she really fosters this community spirit,” Schiffmann said. “The first 10 to 15 minutes of the class she goes around the room, and the students talk about their pregnancy experiences. They get to know each other as opposed to doing their poses and leaving.”
Beer and sympathy
Otherwise known as the beer garden, Zeppelin Hall is that dirigible of a beer palace that on an icy Wednesday last week looked like a ski lodge with a blazing fire. One mom said that the “crappy weather” was actually responsible for the good crowd – about nine moms eating pretzels with mustard and German chocolate cake — and yes, talking.
Obviously, the pregnant women in the group don’t drink, and when it comes to nursing mothers drinking a beer, that’s up to the mom and her physician, group members say.
Various topics were raised, not in an organized way but more like flight of ideas: Baby-wearing, which means slinging your baby around your neck, was batted back and forth. Foods discussed included strained broccoli, limes, lentils, goat yogurt, bananas with oatmeal, sugar-added stuff, and high fructose corn syrup.
The last two items gave rise to the much-discussed topic of guilt. “I’m comfortable with guilt,” one mom decided.
“She pooped in her pants,” another Yoga Mom said as she got up to leave, explaining why she had to go. A fellow member called out, “Don’t worry. It gets easier!”
Anna Noyes, who lives near St. Peter’s College, said she was the first in the group to give birth and is now the mother of nine-and-half-month-old Eli.
“It’s kind of funny,” she said. “Somehow I’m the senior mommy, and that cracks me up, I don’t know any more than the rest of them.”
She said she loves to go to the beer garden to learn about things like sleep training. But, really she said, “The moms are friends, and I would be lonely up here otherwise.”
To contact the group visit http://groups.google.com/group/jcyogamoms. For related information, see sidebar.
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More mom options
Many of the Jersey City Yoga Moms also belong to Jersey City Moms Meetup, a group of women with children ranging from newborns to 6. While the moms hail from all parts of the city, most of their events take place downtown. They get together for play dates, moms-only events, book clubs, family events, and other outings.
“I’m part of that group because I like to know about things that are going on,” said Annie Schiffmann. “Meetup has a massive website. There are a lot of names on the list serve, but I don’t know as many ladies because I haven’t gone to a lot of the events.”
She said she gets seven to eight e-mails a week about “different events that you can bring your baby to. It’s very vast.”
She estimates that there are at least 200 in that group, describing it as “fancy and put together.”
Anna Noyes said that anyone who lives in Jersey City, pays her dues, and has kids the right age can join. “It’s a really great way to meet other moms in Jersey City,” she said, “and you can meet people with children the same age as yours.”
It’s also good for information sharing. “They have a bunch of bulletin boards,” Noyes said, “where you can share experiences or post questions like when do you feed solid foods.”
It’s also a good marketplace. “You can exchange baby stuff like a high chair you don’t need any more and trade off with someone who needs one,” she said. “I got a backseat for free from someone who was trying to get rid of it. There’s a wide selection.”
Annual dues are $25. Visit www.meetup.com/jerseycitymoms.
Some Jersey City moms also read the much larger Hoboken Moms group, which can be found on Yahoo.