When I joined my first moms' group, I was pregnant with our first child. I didn’t join to meet other moms or to ask advice. I joined because I wanted to find a new apartment. It was hard to believe at the time, but our neighbor swore that I could get leads that way, so I did it. It was intimidating at first. When someone posts a question, it’s posed to the whole board. I didn’t want to post a “dumb” question, and I wasn’t exactly sure how to navigate the Yahoo group. Slowly, I figured it out, though, and I learned to love mothers’ groups.

Being a new mom can be scary, and in a large city like New York, it can also be isolating. Mothers’ groups are a safe place for moms to ask questions, get advice, meet other mothers with children of similar ages, make friends, and so much more. Don’t let the fees or application processes deter you; there are good reasons for these requirements, and they add a level of safety, security and trust for members. So do some research, and find a local group in your neighborhood. These boards are invaluable and have made my experience as a mother so much more positive.

Here is the 411 on four of the mothers’ groups in downtown Manhattan.

Hudson River Park Mamas

Group personality: My go-to group to find a personal chef or a great haircut downtown.

This yahoo group has almost 2,000 members living in Tribeca, the Financial District, and Battery Park City. New members need referrals from an existing member and must live in the designated group area. Otherwise, a new member can interview with the group’s founder. In addition to the main board and classified board, the group offers a number of sub-groups varying from age based play date groups to an entrepreneur group for mothers.

Costs: $55 membership fee, and a $35 yearly renewal fee.

Bowery Babes

Group Personality: My go-to group to find volunteering opportunities for kids or where to donate my outgrown car seat.

This tent group of almost 2,000 members covers the East Village and downtown Manhattan. Every applicant must attend an in-person interview as part of the application process. In addition to the main board and classified board, Bowery Babes offers educational seminars and philanthropy opportunities. Members can also join sub-groups based upon their children’s ages, which makes things like play dates easier to organize.

Costs: The group is free to join.

West Village Parents

Group Personality: My go-to group to find an evening babysitter.

Serving the West Village, this smaller group has several hundred members. In addition to the main board, this group has a great nanny exchange board for members.

Costs: Membership is an annual fee of $35.

Westside Moms

Group Personality: My go-to group to find a local kid’s class or when the carousel at Pier 62 will open for the summer.

This google group covers the Chelsea area. It is a smaller group with several hundred members. You must be recommended by an existing member and added by the group administrator. This is a Chelsea-centric group that focuses on activities in the local neighborhood.

Costs: There is no fee to join.