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Postpartum Depression Support Group Helps and Connects Parents

When Gina Petti's dream birth didn't go as planned, she felt unexpected disappointment and strong emotions. That's when she turned to Virtua's postpartum support group for help.

Updated June 20, 2022

Gina Petti and her son Tony. Gina found help and support in Virtua's postpartum depression support group. Like most pregnant women, Gina Petti planned for her dream birth experience. Her husband, midwife, and doula supported her through labor. But after pushing for 4 ½ hours, it was apparent that the birth she dreamed of was changing fast. She was spiking a fever, and the baby was not moving down in her pelvis.

She had to have a cesarean birth, meeting her newborn son Tony quickly over a drape, before he was whisked off to the neonatal intensive care unit for antibiotic treatment.

The following 24 hours were a blur for Gina. After surgery, she experienced blood loss and needed two blood transfusions in her recovery. But she also lost those first precious hours of bonding with her baby.

Gina and her son came home on a Monday. As she read the folder of information she received when leaving the hospital, she came across information for Virtua’s TLC Support Group for Parents. TLC is a professionally led, weekly postpartum depression support group open to people during and after pregnancy. This free and confidential support group provides a forum to help new parents openly express their feelings and gain support from others.

Gina decided to join the group that Wednesday and has been a fairly regular attendee of the virtual support group ever since. In that first meeting, she spilled her guts to the group about her unplanned cesarean birth and how she felt disappointed in herself. The members rallied around Gina, sharing compassion for how she felt about her experience. She developed an instant connection with these mom peers, knowing that she wasn’t alone in how she was feeling.

Gina started feeling irritable and angry about minor things a few months later. She vented to the group about her feelings and said she was considering asking her doctor to put her on an antidepressant. Several moms spoke up, sharing how they took medication to ease anxious feelings. Again, she felt rallying support that calmed her concerns about taking an antidepressant and got the help she needed.

For Gina, the most significant aspect of the TLC support group was having a place where she could share ugly or scary thoughts without fear of judgment or shame. Support group members have learned that these are just thoughts people have when they’re experiencing a major life transition. And they learn how to manage them while gaining support from others.

Gina has been back to work since fall 2021, and she appreciates that she can pop into the TLC virtual support group on her lunch break. The group continues to be a resource for comfort and support. Gina has even turned these virtual relationships into real-life playdates where the moms and babies can all bond together.

Even when things are going well for her, Gina still likes to attend TLC. She thinks sharing her experience and letting other moms know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel is important and makes her tougher experiences worth it. 

Learn more about Virtua's postpartum depression and anxiety services and TLC Support Group for Parents. And, please share this with anyone you think could benefit from a little extra support during or after pregnancy.