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Online group supports moms-to-be during pandemic

"I think it's the most vital thing to parenthood to share with people who are walking in the journey beside you."

ATLANTA — For metro mom and surrogate Lauren Hise, this pregnancy is different. The challenges and unknowns from COVID-19, a hurdle she and countless other moms now face.

"It's completely different in terms of the anticipation," she told 11Alive. "Rather than anticipating bringing your baby home to the normal circumstances, you're anticipating how things are going at the hospital and what's going to be different...the unknowns."

For Katie Shephard, the disruption of her birth plan and attending final appointments without her husband added to the uncertainty. 

"The worst part of giving birth during the pandemic was just uncertainty that was just piled on top of pregnancy related anxieties," Shephard explained. 

To alleviate such stress, Hise, a baby consultant and store owner, created the Georgia Pregnancy Support Group on Facebook, a virtual sounding board for resources and more in a time of social distancing

"It's a good place to share what you're doing and what's working," Hise said. "I think it's the most vital thing to parenthood to share with people who are walking in the journey beside you."

While the journey right now may include extra obstacles courtesy of coronavirus, there's also the chance to reassure others and share the joy.  

"Luckily, the hospital staff was really supportive…and positive," Shephard said of the arrival of her son, Neely. "Now our son is here and happy and healthy with us."

"I think a lot of women are finding they've had decent experiences at the hospital despite their fears," Hise said. "Hearing other people's stories and their good experiences, it keeps me optimistic in how my experience will be." 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reaffirmed hospitals and accredited birth centers remain the safety setting to give birth even in a pandemic. 

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