Zoom Saved My Postpartum Why an authentic community is the unlock to postpartum wellness.

By Betsy Riley

Betsy is the co-founder of Swehl, a one-stop-shop for breastfeeding, and previously co-founded the women’s community, Doyenne. 

“Community” is a bit of a buzzword these days, but for good reason: the connection of a shared experience will always be relevant and can be game-changing, especially when you’re in a crisis. 

And let’s be real, sometimes early motherhood can feel like a crisis. Becoming a parent in the earliest days of Covid in 2020 was a humbling experience (OK, it kinda rocked me). My life had gone from running a women’s social club in Los Angeles, where I was constantly surrounded by women who would emotionally lift me up to the opposite: a digital dashboard of strangers hiding behind usernames, where any difference of opinion was unabashedly shamed. Seven months into parenthood, the epiphany hit that I had PPA. The stress, fear, and isolation had been eating away at me and my family for months–but I was so close to it, I didn’t really have the tools to define it. 

I’m certainly not alone in experiencing postpartum mood disorders; up to 85% of new parents experience postpartum blues in the first two weeks of the fourth trimester, and many go on to have more formal diagnoses of Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Anxiety. We are all striving to feel validation in our experiences–yet there are many moments a mother’s feelings are perceived as exaggerated, or unimportant even. Postpartum is one of the most vital times in your life to have an authentic and truly supportive community.

In my early days of co-founding Swehl, we brought together acquaintances who were newly postpartum for zoom meetups. These turned into hours-long vent sessions, hearing about their breastfeeding journey, their parenting rage and everything in between. It was the first time I felt a connection with other mothers; I felt free to share the good, bad and ugly with these women who lacked the judgment close friends and family might bring. All of a sudden, my PPA fog lifted a bit.

Almost three years later, we’ve talked to thousands of new parents and community (not the buzzword—the real deal) is now embedded into Swehl’s DNA. We are intentional about creating a space for authenticity around parenthood, with an emphasis on putting parents and their full identities at the forefront.  

My favorite community resources:

Digital, expert-led community chats to hype up & hang with other parents. Hosts like Amanda Chantal Bacon, Amrit or Lori Bregman guide these 45-minute conversations.

A podcast exploring what the coolest moms in town are doing? Yes, please.  Hosted by Elise Peterson, the pod features mothers who prioritize their passions and has in-person (yes, COOL) community events to back it.

MOM WORLD, the motherhood staple from By Way of Us, is an in-person gathering across the U.S. dedicated to exploring all facets of a woman through the lens of motherhood. The events are a vibe.