Isolated New Moms Now Rely On Online Village After Childbirth

It takes a village to raise a child, but because of COVID-19, that village comes to new moms via Zoom, Skype.

By Joy DiazApril 23, 2020 10:35 am,

New Texas parents like Tracy Franklin Squires’ first take on motherhood echoes that of most moms, during this time of isolation because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I have an infant at home,” Franklin Squires said. “So, I’m terrified.”

The 41-year-old Seguin woman gave birth in mid-February after years of in vitro fertilization treatments. Her baby was born premature mere weeks before COVID-19 began killing people in Texas and, right before Texas officials issued social distancing orders.

Before the coronavirus, new parents often turned to family and friends for expert advice in those first wary days after coming home from the hospital.

But now, they’re having to turn to Zoom or Skype.

And new parents are looking for ways to learn even the most basic skills like breastfeeding, turning to people like Ann Bennett in Austin, a lactation consultant and author of the book “The Breastfeeding Class You Never Had.”

With clients connecting exclusively through screens because of COVID -19, Bennett said she’s visiting with moms all over the country.

“I’ve seen the background of New York and San Francisco,” Bennett said.

Guiding new moms online is all about giving new moms specific verbal cues, she said.

After 15 years in the field, Bennett knows what correct breast feeding looks like, even if it is through a screen.

“So, when it’s wrong, it stands out like an elephant in the room with a lampshade on [and] wearing pajamas.” Bennett said. “It’s not like you walk in and say ‘Is that an elephant?’ You go, ‘Whoa! That’s not right!’”

Franklin Squires’ baby is now eight weeks old and some things are getting easier.

She’s still seeking the wisdom of her own online village. From tips on how to prevent postpartum depression, to when a fever is just a fever, Franklin Squires is not alone on her searches. She said “hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people” sign in to each Zoom session. She sees “all of these women in little squares popping up holding a little tiny baby…just by themselves.”

And there are new challenges ahead. Soon, she will go back to work as an assistant prosecutor with Bexar County. If orders are not lifted soon, she will be working from home with her new baby on her lap.