QUEENS — It's a support group to go gaga over.
A new women's group is helping relieve the stress facing first-time moms living in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens by giving them a chance to connect and assist one another in a neighborhood where similar support networks are hard to find, women say.
The New Mom Support Group is the brainchild of Kelly Arias, a local resident who said she had searched for support groups herself after giving birth to her son David almost two years ago.
“I realized that there is a lack in this community,” she said.
Arias, 24, who has a master’s degree in elementary school education, has studied child psychology, and has experience as an infant massage instructor and postpartum doula.
She said she decided “to fill this void in this community because every mother needs a place to go to." The group held its initial sessions at Briarwood Library last year.
Arias also hosts the New Moms Group of Queens on meetup.com, which costs members $12 a year. That group, founded in July of last year, has almost 120 members, she said.
The meetings, held in small groups of up to 10 mothers, usually take place at a local venue. Recently, they have been meeting at BambooMoves yoga studio, where a four-week session costs $135.
But Arias said that most of the activities she organizes are free. New mothers, she said, meet for play dates, go together for walks or dinner, and organize picnics and mom's nights out.
“I consider my groups to be like a safe haven,” Arias said. “This is where mothers come with all of their insecurities, questions, concerns and joys that they want to share.”
During the sessions held at the studio, Arias leads discussions on a range of issues, including birth experiences, establishing proper sleeping patterns, breastfeeding, weight loss and ways of caring for babies.
“It’s very therapeutic for moms to come together and to be able to talk about their feelings and be sincere,” Arias said. “It’s also a way for moms to make friends and for their babies to grow together.”
Jennifer Sampietro, 31, said she joined the group when her daughter Izabella was 4 months old.
“It almost saved my life in a way,” Sampietro said. “It was just overwhelming being a new mom, and I didn’t really have a support network.”
Sampietro, a chef at a private catering company, said she was able to relate to other mothers and their struggles, and learned a lot from them. She came away with many new friends, too.
“We have a play date pretty much every week,” she said. “It’s really nice.”
In the future, Arias is planning to start toddler groups and groups for expecting mothers, and her dream is to establish a parent resource center.
Mothers who are interested in joining the group can go to meetup.com and also reach out to Kelly Arias at firstname.lastname@example.org.