Postpartum support group helps new mothers during pandemic

BOSTON — Lauren Atsalis is a new mother to Gus, who was born in January. “He’s so special and being a mom is just, I think, probably the greatest thing I’ve ever done,” she said.

But as all parents know, it’s not always easy having a newborn. That’s why a new virtual support group recently launched by Brigham and Women’s Hospital has been a lifeline for Atsalis.

“I was a new mom, no idea what I was doing and in Covid times, completely isolated, completely overwhelmed,” Atsalis said.

To help ease her isolation and anxiety, the Somerville mother meets once a week via Zoom with other new moms. The support group was started by Sarah McNamara, a childbirth and lactation educator at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“You’re exhausted and you don’t know what day of the week it is, let alone did I eat today, it’s so helpful to have a sounding board,” McNamara said.

Recent research by the Brigham shows that pregnant and postpartum women reported high levels of loneliness, post-traumatic stress, and anxiety or depression during Covid-19. “As a first-time mom it’s an overwhelming experience, to begin with, and factor in a pandemic, I don’t know that I would do without that group,” Atsalis said.

While having a baby during the pandemic can be stressful, the virtual support group is giving new moms, like Lauren, a big sense of relief. The support group is free for new mothers who give birth at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The moms meet virtually for about one hour per week.