I’ll always remember the day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter: It was my 31st birthday, and I was getting ready to fly to Portugal for a short trip the next night. My period was late, and I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before leaving the country, so I took a test…that confirmed that I was pregnant. 

It wasn’t too shocking: I was newly married, my husband and I had just started trying, and I was ready for a baby. I felt excitement run through me, but it was quickly replaced by a feeling of intense anxiety. Suddenly, a million thoughts were running through my mind. I had been drinking wine just a few days before — did I hurt my unborn child? Oh my God, I had been taking melatonin every night, what was I thinking? How did I know this baby was okay? What was I supposed to do to keep this baby okay?! 

As I am a generally anxious person on an everyday basis, it wasn’t weird that I began to spiral into a sea of stress and nervous thoughts. I was so worried about everything that could potentially happen to me and the baby that I desperately wanted, and so terrified that something could take her away, that I barely even let myself get excited about her arrival. On top of that, I had a million and one questions about being pregnant and I couldn’t possibly call my doctor about each one. I felt embarrassed asking friends for constant advice, my mom could not seem to remember what it was like to be pregnant, and my husband was supportive, but not exactly helpful in calming my stress. What I needed was someone going through the same exact thing I was. 

Fortunately, I found that in a Facebook group for moms of Long Island (where I live). When I first joined, I spent a few weeks just reading through posts by other pregnant women and new moms, afraid to chime in with my own thoughts. I expected them all to be cool, relaxed, and in-the-know, like I wanted to be. Instead, I found a group of young women who were mostly just as scared and freaked out as I was…and it was kind of amazing. 

Sometimes, I would be over-analyzing something about my pregnancy, like, “Is it okay that all food completely disgusts me and I’m barely eating?” or “Am I the only one crying at night because I’m so anxious and I feel like no one understands?” Then, I would go on the group and see that someone had already asked exactly what I was thinking. Reading that there was even one other person out there who felt the same way I did took an enormous weight off my shoulders. Reading what the other women had to say made me feel less alone and, finally, less anxious. 

I started going on the group all day long, reading everyone’s posts and even getting up the courage to start responding to them myself. When I was really panicking about something and Google wasn’t helping, I would write a post in the group asking for advice. Comments would flood in, both supportive and incredibly helpful, and they always made me feel better. I didn’t actually know any of these women, but I felt like I had a support system surrounding me that knew and truly understood exactly what I was going through. There was something about the relative anonymity that made me feel more comfortable in sharing even my more embarrassing anxious thoughts, and the openness of the other members encouraged me to be just as honest about my own worries. It was freeing to get these things out in the world to someone other than my husband, and it was great to talk about them with people who weren’t going to judge me. The group became more than just a silly Facebook group; it was practically a lifeline for me. 

As my pregnancy progressed and I started to get ready for delivery, I turned to the group for all of the advice and encouragement I needed to get through the big day. It wasn’t even just about me commenting or writing posts of my own: Simply reading the stories of other women who had just been in my situation took that feeling of fear out of my chest. 

Once I had my daughter, I actually felt a little sad thinking that I would no longer be able to connect with the other pregnant women the way I had been. Luckily, though, I was wrong. Now, it was my turn to give advice from the other side. Feeling like I was helping someone who was just like the person I’d been eight months earlier weirdly made me feel more confident in my own mothering abilities. 

My daughter is now eight months old, and I’m still a very active member of that Facebook group — as well as four other mom Facebook groups I’ve joined since. The members of these groups have helped me through every stressful situation, from postpartum pain to breastfeeding struggles to baby development questions to personal issues that had nothing to do with motherhood.

It’s not that I don’t have people in real life to turn to; my friends are wonderful and my mom is everything. But there’s something comforting about these groups of like-minded women that just help me breathe a little easier each day. I can safely say that becoming an active member of a Facebook group helped get me through pregnancy, and it’s something I’d recommend to any nervous new mom out there. 

Originally published on SheKnows.

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