Go ahead, be a joiner. Portland new parent groups can help you connect with the human race again.
Short of being abducted by aliens or taped up in a box and shipped to outer Mongolia, nothing else in one’s life will ever quite compare to the feelings of abject terror, isolation and disorientation that come with first-time parenthood. Everything that was once taken for granted — relationships with old friends and family members, sleep schedules, a semi firm grasp on sanity — is now gone with the wind that seems to constantly emit from this small, impossibly fragile creature whose survival is in your hands. For most new parents, venturing out in public and forming coherent sentences seems as appealing as running a triathlon on nothing but 15 minutes of sleep and a lukewarm cup of decaf. But deep down inside, we all know it’s the best thing for us. Lucky for you the Portland metro area is absolutely chock-full of opportunities to get out and about with your baby. You can meet new people, get back in shape, ask for advice, or even watch a movie without getting the stink-eye from strangers who don’t appreciate infants screaming over the soundtrack. Follow the chart for some of your best bets for hooking up with groups that can help you get back into the groove of functional adulthood.
Looking for friends with ultra-specific interests?
Meetup.com Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom in the sticks, having your first child at 40, a single parent, a native German speaker or an LGBT family looking for others with whom to connect, Meetup has a group just for you. Check out moms.meetup.com/cities/us/or/portland for the full range of offerings.
Need breastfeedling help and advice?
New Seasons Market New Parent & Breastfeeding Support Group Yes, we’re talking about New Seasons the grocery store, but there are certainly less appropriate places to talk about milk. Drop-in, free, Tuesdays-Thursdays, locations vary. See newseasonsmarket.com/our-stores/events for full calendar.
Metta Lineage New Parent & Breastfeeding Support Group Facilitated by a doula; pregnant folks are also welcome. Drop in, 11 am-12:30 pm Wednesdays at TaborSpace (5441 SE Belmont St.), suggested donation $5-$10.
New Moms Support Group at Milagros Another doula-led program, specifically tailored for the birth-3 months set. Drop-in, Tuesdays 11 am-12:30 pm at Milagros, 5433 NE 30th Ave. Can’t meet on weekdays? Doula Love’s Working Moms Support Group meets at Milagros 10 am-noon on the fourth Saturday of every month. Free.
Ready to get back into shape?
Hike It Baby Started by local mom Shanti Hodges, Hike It Baby is now a national phenomenon but still hosts a plethora of one-time and recurring hikes all over the Portland metro. Some require a carrier, but others are stroller friendly. Most hikes are free; check out hikeitbaby.com.
Fit4Mom Put that aggravatingly bulky jogging stroller to use! This popular national group offers a full complement of mommy-and-me, boot-camp-style, outdoor, fitness classes (for babies in strollers) both in Portland proper and in various suburbs. Not sure if you’re ready? First classes are always free. Check out fit4mom.com for the full schedule of days and locations.
Baby Boot Camp Another national fitness program offering everything from “strollga” to 5K training programs for brand-new moms, their babies and their strollers. Classes take place mostly in Southwest Portland and the ‘burbs, and again, the first class is free. Check out babybootcamp.com.
Mommy & Baby Yoga Specialists in “whole family yoga,” Yoga Continuum offers classes for mothers and babies, tweens, toddlers and more; see yogacontinuum.com for the full schedule. Specific mother baby yoga classes are offered Thursday from 11 am-noon (Woodlawn Movement, 728 NE Dekum St.).
Want to meet other new parents in the neighborhood?
Swap ‘n Plays Woodstock, Woodlawn and St. Johns all feature a version of this cooperative playspace that also hosts gear and clothing exchanges, classes, and just a place to hang out with your newborn and vent. (Bonus feature: Plenty of parents just waiting for someone on whom to foist all their used newborn baby clothes and toys.) Membership costs vary. Visit woodlawnswapnplay.org, southsideswapandplay.org or swapnplay.org.
Book Babies at the Library Most neighborhood library branches offer a version of this popular song and story time specifically tailored to babies 0-12 months. It’s a great place to meet other moms in your immediate area, and the Multnomah County classes are always free with no library card required. Visit multcolib.org/events/book-babies for times and days.
Just want to sit in the presence of other adults without the obligation to talk?
Kennedy School Mommy Matinee Can’t get through 10 minutes of a movie without your baby screaming? Come join the club! McMenamins’ eternally charming Kennedy School theater hosts special matinee times just for parents, with lower volume and the lights kept on. Check out mcmenamins.com/427-kennedy-school-home for the schedule. (Note that many of the movies are R-rated, so it really is best for babies only.)
Want to meet — and maintain relationships with — moms with kids almost exactly the same age as yours?
New Mothers Support Group at your local hospital Tired of running into those infuriatingly smug and happy mom besties who met at the new moms’ group at their local hospital and remain close many years afterward? Don’t miss out! Whether you gave birth at a hospital or at a home, most medical facilities recognize the value of postpartum community building and offer support groups and classes to both patients and the general public. It’s one of the few times everyone is equally gobsmacked, sleep deprived and out of their element — the perfect breeding grounds for lifelong bonding. If your local hospital doesn’t offer them, check out the packed schedules offered by Providence and Legacy. Prices vary.
Portland PEPS Don’t worry, it’s not cheer camp. PEPS stands for Program for Early Parent Support. And you’ll get to know the same group of mamas, papas and babies really well since you’re committing to 12 weeks of meeting in each other’s houses. Each week covers a different topic from sleeping and crying to relationships and parent self care (what’s that again?). Portland organizer Kim Larson brought the group down with her when she moved from Seattle and is wrapping up a trial run. Email portlandpeps(at)gmail for more info. $150 for one parent, $200 per couple. Scholarships available.
Can’t wait to sign your newborn up for her first class?
Gymboree Gymboree, the national corporation known for its clothing stores and children’s play classes, hosts studios near both Tanasbourne and Bridgeport Village. Its Play & Learn program is specifically tailored for infants ages 0-6 months, with plenty of tummy time and sensory play. Check out gymboreeclasses.com for schedule.
Music Together Converts to this beloved national program will tell you it’s never too early to start exposing your baby to music. Newborns are welcome at these parent-child participatory sessions, which take place all over the city. Check out musictogether-pdx.com for more details. (Sessions run year round and scholarships are available.)
Feeling overwhelmed or depressed?
Baby Blues Connection Support Groups Postpartum depression specialist Baby Blues Connection hosts a wide range of free, drop-in, no-judgment, LGBT-friendly classes all over the metro area. Times and locations vary; check babybluesconnection.org/bbc/finding-help/bbc-groups for schedules. For dads having a hard time, BBC hosts a drop-in group just for them 12:30 pm-2 pm the first Sunday of every month at Café Au Play (5633 SE Division St.).