Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but the Internet is a BFF (best friend forever) to women navigating motherhood for the first time.
Unlike previous generations - who were often isolated and alone during the first weeks and months of life with a new baby - women today with access to a computer can take advantage of limitless opportunities to connect. You can make new friends, find local playgroups, and get support and advice from the many online communities and social networks designed specifically for mothers.
Although by no means a comprehensive list, below are a few sites that connect moms around the block and around the world.
Cafemom.com - This straightforward, easy-to-navigate site makes it simple to meet other moms in a supportive, members-only social network. On the very first page, listings of Groups and Journals covering on a wide variety of topics prompt you to join up and get involved. Click on the Groups tab and you can search for a group based on your needs. The Today page features member birthdays, who's expecting, and new arrivals. It's a warm and fuzzy introduction for those new to online communities.
Mayasmom.com - Geared more toward moms already familiar with social networking sites, Mayasmom enables you to keep track of your online friends and what they're saying. Group Talks reveal chitchat about various topics, and Top Groups shows you the most popular ones. Once you register, one very handy feature becomes available - you can import your online address book from a number of popular websites such as AOL and Gmail, and you can see if your real-world friends are members.
Minti.com - Another excellent site for someone new to online social networking, Minti features a 'First Visit?' button linked to a video or slideshow tour showing you how it all works. Unlike some other sites, you don't have to register to access the wealth of parenting information available. Minti's strength is its question-based format, allowing users to ask about anything and everything. And answers provided by other parents are even rated by users for their value and effectiveness. The concept of moms advising moms is terrific, the site is fun to read, and the design is clean and appealing.
Workitmom.com is an all-purpose site described as 'helping working moms juggle life.' And they follow through with a professional appearance and a clickable "How to Use Work It, Mom!" for first-timers. Work It Mom includes articles and interviews, along with a contest page which acknowledges that "working moms can always use a bit of recognition (as well as some great swag!)" If you work and want to talk with other women who also balance career and home, this is the place for you.
Mombloggersclub.com - The name says it all - an online community for moms who blog. Moms who start out at a more general-purpose social networking site - but find themselves obsessed with blogging - can step up their game here. Not only will you connect with other moms who share your passion, but you'll also get tips and tricks to become a better mom blogger, find out how to use YouTube on your blog, and learn about syndication and getting your writing on major media sites.
With so many options to choose from, online moms can spend quality time with old friends and make new ones. And with support and guidance available 24/7, even if the baby's sick and it's too cold to go out, community and companionship are just a keystroke away.