Whatever parenting issue you’re facing—a newborn who won’t nap or a career in need of a postbaby pivot—there’s a robust digital world of experts and support available to anyone with Wi-Fi. Here’s how to log on and find a lifeline.

By Kate Rockwood
June 05, 2020
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Thayer Allyson Gowdy

Whether you're trying to conceive, pregnant, or caring for an infant postpartum, it's no secret moms need support. While partners, family, and friends can be helpful, sometimes having professionals to lean on make all the difference—even if that leaning is done virtually.

Now more than ever, moms can find support online. The perks of our digital world have been a huge relief for parents during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as for mothers who aren't capable of leaving their home to seek support. But just like with everything on the internet, it can be tricky to decipher sites you can trust. We worked with experts and parents to create this list of resources that will make all the difference in your pre- and post-baby journey.

For those about to give birth:

Delivery has a language all its own—meconium? mucus plug?—but taking a class helps. Look for one that covers labor, birth, the postpartum stage, nursing, and newborn care, says Shawna Mertens, cofounder of Third Coast Birth & Baby, in Chicago. Your hospital may offer virtual classes; if not, Tucson Medical Center’s tutorial is on its TMC HealthCare YouTube channel, and many more are online: Try Belly Bliss or Homegrown Families. Most classes cost $150 to $400. On the big day, even a doula’s duties (like coaching during contractions) are doable from afar, says Mertens. “We use video calls or talk to you via earbud,” she says.

For those who just gave birth:

“A postpartum doula can model a lot virtually, like diapering, swaddling, bathing, and soothing, and also connect with new parents about the emotional transition they’re making,” says doula Claire Zawa, of Birthways. Mandy Major, founder of the doula group Major Care, says: “Even before COVID-19, I felt that remote care was the most powerful way to provide help, because we come to you.” For about $5 a day, you’ll get weekly video chats and 24/7 text access. The National Black Doulas Association is also a great resource connecting Black birthing families with Black doulas across the country.

For pelvic-floor help, post-baby:

Maybe you’ve been meaning to see a physical therapist since your baby was born—the kid who’s now wearing lace-up shoes. “For many moms, one barrier is finding time for appointments,” says Sara Reardon, a New Orleans pelvic-floor physical therapist and founder of The Vagina Whisperer. Her 45-minute virtual sessions ($100) let you ask questions about whatever is ailing you, from urine leaks to painful sex. Good news: Most major insurance companies are expanding coverage for telehealth, so your consult will likely be free or low-cost.

For moms struggling with postpartum depression:

Postpartum Support International runs free online groups for pregnant and postpartum moms dealing with perinatal mood disorders. You’ll discuss your feelings in a judgment-free zone and learn ways to cope. The Mom Support Group, created by the Bloom Foundation for Maternal Wellness, offers similar sessions led by postpartum advocates, many of whom have survived the same struggles. Women of color can also check out Therapy for Black Girls, which aims to make mental health support more accessible for Black women.

For moms who just need to vent:

Loom’s “Mothers: After Dark” group is for moms of kids older than 1 to discuss, with a moderator, the tough parts of parenting: sex after kids, discipline fails, or the vision of mom life versus the reality, to name a few ($50 per session).

Ted + Chelsea Cavanaugh

If you’re wondering how to throw a birthday party during a pandemic:

Bubbles Academy offers virtual parties for tots, with artists leading concerts and imaginative adventures. “We used them for my daughter’s second birthday,” says Linnea Chambrey, a mom of three. “Family from out of town attended, which couldn’t have happened if the party had been in person.” The Kids’ Table leads littles in cooking classes (hello, coconut-cream pie!), and Storybook Entertainment will set up a virtual greeting from Elsa, Ariel, Superman, and dozens more.

If you’d like to have a little fun too:

  • Houseparty: This video-chat app seamlessly brings party games online, with fun built-in options like trivia, Heads Up!, and Quick Draw.
  • Netflix Party: The browser extension lets you sync movies across devices and gab it up with a group-chat function.
  • Jackbox Games: From racy fill-in-the-blanks to goofy drawing contests, these games from the makers of You Don’t Know Jack are played from the comfort of your couches.

For those who’d like to eat better:

Questions about prenatal nutrition? Want help tweaking your postpartum food habits? A virtual session with a pro can help. For example, Rachelle Mallik, R.D., gives clients a nutrition assessment, regular sessions, and access to an app that tracks goals and progress (plans start at $270).

For those dealing with infertility:

The nonprofit Resolve hosts virtual support groups to curb feelings of isolation that fertility issues can cause. Loom’s Kin fertility classes aid LGBTQ folks struggling to start or expand their families. And last fall, Peanut, the friend-finding app for moms, launched a Trying to Conceive platform where parents can commiserate about the conception process’s ups and downs.

For parents at their wits’ end with a crying baby:

Go old-school and call a hotline: The Fussy Baby Network (888-431-BABY) is open Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Standard Time, for free real-person advice on infant crying, sleeping, feeding, and soothing.

For parents on the verge of tears over breastfeeding:

Even from afar, lactation consultants can address latching woes, pumping issues, and more, says Heather Dvorak, owner of A Baby Place: Birth, Breastfeeding & Beyond. “We try to observe a feeding virtually,” she says. Experts watch your baby and listen to any noises he makes to tailor their advice to your child. Bonus: Lactation consults are likely covered by your insurance.

Another great resource: Milky Mama, which offers lactation supplements and breastfeeding support, was founded by Krystal Nicole Duhaney, a registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant. The company has a new virtual course on breastfeeding for parents of all experience levels.

If you have a baby in the NICU:

Pre-pandemic, Hand to Hold connected parents with babies in the NICU to trained volunteers for one-on-one and small-group support. Now families with infants in intensive care can join a free weekly group Zoom session to discuss challenges both practical and emotional, and separately, parents who’ve just brought their little one home from the NICU can get advice and support about caring for a medically fragile child.

If you have a chronic health issue:

When you have a serious health concern, navigating appointments and treatments is hard enough, and figuring out how to tell your kid about your health challenges adds an extra level of difficulty. Luckily, the parenting classes at Wonders & Worries help you learn what to share with your kids and how to do so in age-appropriate ways. In addition, the group’s virtual support sessions for kids ages 2 to 18 can help your child navigate the uncertainty and fear of living with a chronically ill parent.

If you’re craving smart conversation (and a good book):

Find your next great read and discuss it with the author at Quarantine Book Club, which hosts video chats with published writers. Silent Book Club lets readers bookworm quietly together, then share thoughts on what they read; these days, their free meetups have gone virtual.

If you could use a deep stretch:

Whether you’ve had a baby or are about to, check out a Zoom-based pre- or postnatal yoga class from Meraki Mama Collective ($35 for a week of unlimited classes), which aims to relieve back pain, heal diastasis recti (the separation of abdominal muscles that can occur in pregnancy), and strengthen the pelvic floor.

For the job hunters out there:

The Mom Project is a job-listing network that connects women with employers who “respect work and life integration,” with part-time and flex-schedule positions. Après provides résumé coaching ($199), consultations for women returning to work after stepping away to care for a family ($349), and job listings from companies that grasp these and other challenges working moms face. And for $300 per hour, Lauren Smith Brody, of New York City–based The Fifth Trimester, guides new moms through negotiating a livable schedule with their boss, finding the right child-care fit, and more.

If you really just need some sleep:

Calling in a virtual sleep consultant can help the whole family get more shut-eye. Social worker Linda Szmulewitz, founder of Sleep Tight Consultants, has been doing remote sessions for years. “A family’s ability to make changes in their child’s sleep isn’t diminished by working virtually,” she says. In fact, says Brooke Nalle, founder of Sleepy on Hudson, technology can make it easier to provide support. For $595, she and her team use texts, phone calls, video chats, and data from devices like Nest monitors to assess and address a baby’s sleep challenges for two weeks. Or you can connect with Taking Cara Babies, whose conversational sleep classes ($34 to $74) are available as short videos you can watch whenever, then follow up with a phone consult if needed.

A version of this article originally appeared in Parents magazine's July 2020 issue as “Help Is Just a Click Away.” Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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