Jessica Florio month 6 of pregnancy

How I Built a Virtual Support System During My First Pregnancy

By the sixth month of my pregnancy, it felt like I couldn’t go anywhere without my belly being the topic of conversation. There was no longer a question of whether it was a real baby or a “food” baby—I was very clearly growing a human inside of me, and that’s all everyone wanted to talk about. Strangers would strike up conversations on the train, on the street, and in the grocery store. 

One afternoon while out running errands in New York City, an elderly woman asked me if I had made any neighborhood mom friends yet. No, I replied, I had not. She then proceeded to tell me how years ago, she made friends with other moms or moms-to-be by simply walking up to them on the sidewalk in her area. I laughed because the whole concept seemed so foreign to me. New Yorkers don’t exactly have a reputation for being the friendliest people on the street. But, that doesn’t mean that I was without any sense of community during my pregnancy. In fact, I felt more connected than ever. 

New Yorkers don’t exactly have a reputation for being the friendliest people on the street. But, that doesn’t mean that I was without any sense of community during my pregnancy. In fact, I felt more connected than ever.

Up until this point, the biggest source of my camaraderie was the internet. Earlier in my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with Symphysis Pubis Disorder (SPD), a condition in which the body produces too much of the hormone relaxin. This leads to pelvic joint instability, so I experienced pretty bad pelvic and back pain. I had to take it easy, which meant no exercise, no long walks, and no standing for too long. While physical therapy helped, SPD doesn't truly go away until after labor. This was not a prime condition for in-person socializing.

So I turned to the internet to find my community and encouragement, and was pleasantly surprised with just how much virtual support is out there. Whether through an online pregnancy forum, pregnancy app, social media, or virtual birthing class, I was still able to surround myself with support while expecting.

Online Forums 

I am incredibly grateful for modern technology, which made connecting with others from the comfort of my home so easy. The first way I went about this was through online forums, and it happened accidentally. Earlier in my pregnancy, I stumbled upon a pregnancy forum on Reddit while browsing the internet for something baby-related. The community was over 100k strong! The range and depth of topics discussed were impressive—it covered physical and mental health, the struggles of teen moms and older moms, and even husbands hopping on to get advice!

All of a sudden a whole world of other pregnant folks and those working to support them was right at my fingertips.

All of a sudden a whole world of other pregnant folks and those working to support them was right at my fingertips. While speaking with your doctor for medical advice is best, sometimes you just want to relate and empathize with your peers over the pregnancy highs and lows. After discovering Reddit, I Googled some more to find what else was out there. I quickly joined several different pregnancy forum sites and downloaded the Reddit app, so I always had my pregnancy squad accessible. Other than Reddit, some of my favorites were Mumset, Pregnancy Forum, and Mothering.

I had seen forums online before, but the level of involvement on the pregnancy-related boards was tenfold. I felt like I had discovered a gold mine. Parents were eager to help each other, build connections, and just have fun, all in real-time. Sometimes there were silly conversations, like comparing what everyone was craving to the gender of their baby to see if there was any correlation. Other times there were words of compassion for the birthing parent who was feeling anxious about parenthood. The forums were also great for combing through old threads for inspiration—I would read about a woman's infertility struggles, and get to see an update on her healthy babies from years later. And then there were many tips given on how to foster intimacy with your partner if sex was off-limits. Nothing was taboo. 

What I liked most about joining online forums was the anonymity. While that may seem counterintuitive to building support, I found it freeing. There was no worrying about judgy looks or feeling embarrassed about a question or comment. Yes, there were definitely catty moments. But overall, no one was there for the drama. We joined these forums to be there for and empower each other. 

Social Media 

Social media may be getting a bad rap these days, but finding balance in its usage can be beneficial, especially when pregnant. My use of online forums one day led me to check out Facebook groups. Up until this point, I really wasn’t very familiar with them. I hadn’t really used Facebook in years, except maybe to occasionally look up an old friend or post a quick life update. But now, I use Facebook (specifically for groups) several times a week! 

Searching through Facebook for groups, I was once again surprised to see how supportive and involved they were. And while online forums tend to be grouped under broader topics, Facebook groups can be incredibly niche. I found a group specifically for dealing with SPD for example. I love having an easy place to hop on and chat about the difficulties of what I was going through, without needing to thoroughly explain my condition.  


While there is no anonymity on Facebook, the perk of that is how it can lead to future in-person meetings (if and when you are interested in that).

While there is no anonymity on Facebook, the perk of that is how it can lead to future in-person meetings (if and when you are interested in that). I first joined a popular parenting group for my neighborhood, the Upper West Side of Manhattan. From there, I found another group specifically for the neighborhood moms with babies born in the summer of 2019! So not only was I connecting online with moms going through the exact same things I was, but now these were moms that could possibly be real-life friends with.

Virtual Classes 

Before getting pregnant, I had imagined myself attending all sorts of in-person prenatal classes: yoga, pilates, birthing, CPR, etc. I remember seeing all the parents-to-be milling about at my favorite yoga studio, ready to hop in the class after mine, and wanting so badly to be one of them. Unfortunately, that didn’t really happen for me. By the time I was big enough to need to switch from regular classes to prenatal, my SPD was in full swing, and exercise had to be put on pause. I felt so disappointed that I wouldn’t get to be a yoga mommy. 

So I turned to virtual options. They were few and far between, as this was a few years ago when virtual classes and video chat get-togethers were not really a big thing. Many of these online classes were one-offs that I stumbled upon, but they were still incredibly helpful. I was able to feel a bit less like I was missing out. 

In one particular online birthing class, everyone went around the 'room' to introduce themselves, their birth partner, and how they were feeling that day. At that moment, we were all able to connect and support each other in real-time, which may not have been otherwise possible.

My favorite online class was through Boober. In one particular online birthing class, everyone went around the “room” to introduce themselves, their birth partner, and how they were feeling that day. At that moment, we were all able to connect and support each other in real-time, which may not have been otherwise possible.

It was hard to find this option before, but now with the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has changed. Virtual classes are abundant! If there is one upside to going through a pandemic, it’s how much more accessible classes and workshops are now that almost everything has a virtual component. I had always been appreciative of online options, and now even more people get to experience that, as well.

In building a support system during pregnancy, we’re incredibly lucky to be living in a modern world with several types of ways to do so. There isn’t just one right way to go about it—virtual or in person, anonymously or not—all of these options are great options. It’s about finding what you like, and finding what makes you feel connected.

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By Jessica Florio
Jessica Florio is a blogger and freelance writer as well as a stay-at-home mom.