Pregnancy is an intimate, vulnerable time for a woman. Women's bodies change. Their hormones are wild. They deal with new insecurities, hopes, and dreams. How women handle pregnancy is being influenced by social media today, for better or for worse.
Social media has created more problems than we ever thought possible. It has also introduced people from all walks of life, all over the world, and created wonderful connections that we never expected. We have endless articles, stories, and opinions at our fingertips whether we want them or not.
Social media has given us virtual villages. It has given us women from all over the planet to talk to and share our journey with. At the same time, it has allowed a whole lot of unwanted voices to share some pretty rude commentary. It has created new kinds of stress, and stress just isn't something we need more of during pregnancy.
People who have built businesses on social media, like Kylie Jenner, have decided to black out social media from their pregnancies. What does that tell us? Kylie isn't alone either. Women everywhere have been taking a similar approach to keeping pregnancy private. We can't really blame them when many people feel like they live in a digital fishbowl these days. Social media creates the illusion that we are closer with some people than we really are, leaving them to feel entitled to intimate details of our lives.
20 The Pregnancy Pictures
Everyone loves a good baby bump. Thanks to social media we can share ours and see tons of other moms'. We can document our entire 40 weeks of pregnancy and various bump stages. This can be really neat for women to share their journey with friends and family. That isn't the case for everyone though. One woman wrote on Vogue that she was bombarded from friends and family members for not sharing a picture of her belly on social media. People felt they were entitled to these personal time and detail in her life.
On the flip side, it can be really detrimental to our self esteem when we feel like a house and see that some other women are barely showing. Seeing those Instagram moms who still sport abs during their third trimesters sure hits us in the gut at a time when we are already feeling pretty vulnerable.
19 Virtual Mommy Groups
Virtual mommy groups are both a blessing and a curse. Essentially they give us a village of women who we can reach at a moment's notice, some we likely haven't even met in person. These women give us strength and sanity when we need to talk to another adult. Sometimes we find it easier to be open and honest with people through social media rather than people we know face to face.
Virtual mommy groups can create all kinds of drama and problems though. We get judgement from strangers. People question our judgement and choices as parents because so many people have such different beliefs. According to Romper.com there are a few rules we can try to remember to make it more pleasant in the mommy groups like remembering not to criticize other people's kids.
18 We Hear More Worrisome Stories
Social media has given everyone a voice and more of a reach than ever before. We already worry enough about labor and delivery without reading all of the ways it can go wrong. We'll probably still do it anyways because we're curious. Seriously, don't do it.
Buzzfeed provides a whole 49 labor and delivery stories that are cringeworthy because we just can't help ourselves. We worry about epidurals, going number two on the table, and everything else that can go wrong. Having babies is pretty scary business. Though we can find some relief to know that the lady who has her arm in our body up to her elbow has been in this situation before and we aren't the only woman who will have these concerns.
17 We Can Compare Notes With Other Moms
Social media has provided us a virtual village, and some sites even give us access to women who are in the same week of pregnancy as us. This can be great to compare symptoms with other mommies, though we should remember the rules from Romper.com, and consult a doctor for medical advice.
Pregnancy comes with a wild variety of symptoms for every woman and every pregnancy. It is comforting to talk about it with other women who are going through it because our husband is probably sick of hearing how badly our back hurts. He also probably doesn't actually get it.
16 We See All Of The Fit Mommies
Women like Sarah Stage and Tammy Hembrow put us all to shame with their pregnancy and postpartum fitness. Before social media, we didn't see or hear a lot about these women or others like them. Now though Instagram gives them a spot on our timeline and encouragement to be more active during pregnancy (following our own doctor's guidelines of course).
According to People.com, Hembrow is an Australian fitness trainer who worked out around four times a week during her second pregnancy. That might not be a realistic goal for some of us, but Hembrow credited it as the reason she bounces back so quickly. Women like Hembrow might see this as inspiration or encouragement to keep active during their own pregnancies. It can also hit us pretty hard if we aren't able to keep up.
15 We Are Obsessed With The Ideal Of Bouncing Back
Prior to social media, few people really saw us in those first precious weeks after having a baby. We weren't obsessed with having our baby pounds fall off shortly after delivering and people weren't looking to see whether or not our bodies bounced back in mere weeks.
Before we saw the headlines about celebrity moms bouncing back in a few weeks. Now it's worse though. We see other women bouncing back, "regular women," and we wonder why we don't have the same results. According to Mic.com, the obsession with the post-baby body can affect our mental health and body image. After all, it took us 9 months to put on the lbs and grow a person so it is no surprise it might take some time to lose them.
14 The Birth Announcement Expectation
Social media has made personal experiences, such as giving birth, not so personal anymore. It invites a whole host of people into these private moments as we feel pressured to share the details and likely a photo of the new baby on our social media. With friends, colleagues, and other social media followers in mind, we might share and miss telling a closer relative or friend first leaving them with hurt feelings.
How we share our child's birth can sort of set the road for what his own social media presence will be because we don't have full control anymore over those pictures or details once we share them. According to BellaBabyPhotography.com, one option to share a birth announcement is to use a picture of baby's hands or feet and avoid showing the face. This will give baby (and us) some privacy about this very personal experience.
13 A Lack Of Filter (And We Don't Mean On IG)
We have all heard of keyboard warriors. It's true that we have a little more courage to ask things we probably wouldn't ask in person. Thanks to social media an expecting mother's inbox or comments section quickly fills with all the baby related questions possible from people who aren't close enough to ask them in person. Yes, we're looking at you random girl who thinks she needs to know the name of our unborn baby. People are naturally curious (or nosy). Social media takes away from the privacy of the experience as outsiders feel included.
These keyboard warriors become an online peanut gallery to our pregnancy filled with unwanted commentary. According to ScaryMommy.com, people have even been known to ask things as cringe-worthy as "Who's the dad?" or "Was it planned?" They feel included in our lives thanks to social media and somehow entitled to these personal details. We could either 1) clean out our friends list and boost privacy settings or 2) use common sense and filter what we say/ask online.
12 Dissatisfaction With Our Figures
According to TheConversation.com, one large downside to social media sites like Facebook is that it increases our own body image dissatisfaction. We see highlights of friends, family, influencers, and celebrities. We don't see the stretch marks, swollen ankles, or the fact that they fit mom still probably feels like a house in her third trimester, just like we do.
We are incredibly self conscious during pregnancy. Our bodies are growing, stretching, and changing. There is absolutely nothing we can really do about it. Obviously it is great that our baby is growing, but we'd be lying if we didn't struggle sometimes with the ever increasing numbers on the scale. So it isn't exactly helpful when our timeline is filled with women whose bellies never seem to be so big.
11 The Gender Reveal Parties Are A Big Deal
Next to proposals, gender reveals are one of the most exciting things to witness. If we can't be a part of the party, we can still enjoy the videos on social media. Many new moms love to participate in this trend. Who can blame them?
PopSugar.com created a list of the most adorable gender reveals including customized cake pops, silly string, and even powder filled baseballs. The reveals are shared to social media for all of our friends and family to join in on the fun. There are so many creative options to reveal the gender of our little bundle of joy that it's fun to be the expectant parent and the spectator in this case.
10 There Is The Expectation Of The Online Pregnancy Journal
We use social media to document our lives, and that includes pregnancy. We post bump pictures, pregnancy milestones, and those adorable comparisons between our baby's size and fruits or vegetables. Not only is this a great memory for us to look back on, it can be beneficial to others on our timeline who are going through the same experience.
This concept is slightly controversial as some women prefer to keep their pregnancies offline altogether or only share big things like baby's birth. We want this time to be personal and private for ourselves and our families. According to Romper.com, some may decide to keep their pregnancy private to avoid additional stress that can come with talking about it on social media. There is no one size fits all when it comes to pregnancy and social media.
9 Do We Follow The 12-Week Rule On Social Media?
We can find out we're pregnant as early as like four weeks nowadays. But we wouldn't dare talk about it on social media until at least 12 weeks. It's almost become a social taboo to do so. According to BabyCenter.com, the risk for losing the baby drops greatly around 10 to 12 weeks which is why many women opt to wait it out.
Before 12 weeks we may not necessarily be showing, but we're over the moon excited, maybe a little nervous, and likely experiencing symptoms. We still try to keep it to ourselves or a select handful of people because we worry about the "what if's." It is safer and maybe easier to wait until we're in the clear so to say before announcing our pregnancy.
8 We Worry About Stepping On Toes
It seems like we are accidentally offending people all over the place. Pregnancy is a surprisingly hot topic. Though it is obviously joyous, there are people who struggle with infertility, miscarriage, and infant loss who may not love seeing our announcement. Though they are likely happy for us, it isn't personal to us. It is a reminder of their pain and struggles.
According to BabyCenter.com women who have dealt with previous losses are likely to wait longer than the traditional 12 weeks to announce their own pregnancies, understandable obviously. They might cringe for us if we announce super early because they've been there. They've had the painful, teeth pulling conversations with random Facebook friends after a loss.
7 It Creates Room For Self-Doubt
Are we ready for this? It seems that no matter how prepared we are, every new parent finds themselves questioning if they're prepared. Babies are a big challenge after all. While it is okay and rather normal for us to question our own abilities, it is not cool at all when others raise these kinds of questions for no good reason. It encourages those lingering thoughts of self doubt and can really hurt our emotional well being when we're already vulnerable.
One of the ways SmarterParenting.com suggests we eliminate our own self doubt is to talk with other moms. Yes that we can do over social media, but the point is other parents are going to be our best helpers because they've been there themselves. Random relatives, fear inducing articles, and unwanted opinions are not our allies.
6 It Is Nearly Impossible To Have A Social Media Black-Out
Social media can be incredibly intrusive. That's why a few moms have opted to keep their pregnancy offline, and many more are joining the idea. According to HarpersBazaar.com, a psychologist chalks this trend up partly to the undue stress and pressures involved with revealing it on social media and keeping up our content. We don't need any extra stress or negativity during pregnancy so it is no surprise women are delaying the announcement longer and longer. Some hide it until they can't anymore. Some go to greater lengths to protect the privacy of their pregnancy.
We can be open and honest with our friends and followers without talking about pregnancy because there are other things to post/talk about it. We can keep this private time private if we choose to. We have that right. So much of our lives are often documented on the internet, it is nice to keep this special time to ourselves.
5 We Hear About The Difficult Experiences
Yes sometimes things do go wrong in pregnancy or during delivery. While the odds are rather slim, the amount of worrisome stories we see on our social media channels don't make it seem that way especially when we are pregnant ourselves.
A study showed that about 14 percent of pregnant women dealt with a fear of childbirth, otherwise known as tocophobia, according to MSN.com. That number has risen in the last two decades, and many of us are left wondering if social media is to blame.
With thousands of stories at our finger tips about what can go wrong and the ability to puts faces to those stories, it is no surprise that we are a bit worried about childbirth. It just increases the fears and worries we already had.
4 We Only See "The Good Stuff"
Social media is notorious for only showing us the "highlights" of other people's lives. When we are able to carefully curate what we show the world, it's a no brainer that the ugly, the trouble, and the painful are hidden from the world. That can leave us feeling rather alone in our experiences. Why aren't her feet swollen? How is she glowing? Why isn't she exhausted? Even though some moms to be are priding themselves on showing the raw reality of pregnancy and motherhood, it still seems like no one is struggling as much as we are.
Pregnancy is a beautiful experience. We are lucky we get to partake in it because not everyone can so we feel guilty if we complain. We feel pressured to join in on the joy and happiness on our social media that is expected of us which can leave us feeling even worse. According to Telegraph, prenatal depression is on the rise thanks to the combination of more women in the workforce and pressures from social media. We have a lot on our plates while we cook a human and keeping up appearances is an unnecessary expectation.
3 The Mommy Blogs Give Us High Expectations
Honestly what did we do before the age of mommy blogs? According to HuffingtonPost.com, there are over four million mommy bloggers in North America. The success and reach of these blogs greatly varies, but they all provide some type of content that can be helpful to mommas in any stage of life. Hearing that other people are going through or went through what we are experiencing gives us a feeling of camaraderie. They did it and made it through so likely we're going to be okay too.
We are able to hear stories and connect with people we never would have before the age of social media. We are also able to tell our stories, if we wish to, and that can be therapeutic for us as well. Some of us might even be mommy bloggers ourselves who use social media and our blog for a nice little side hustle and some pocket money.
2 It's A Lot To Handle
When we have dozens and dozens of opinions, articles, and stories at our finger tips and on our timelines it is no surprise that we feel stressed (pregnant or not). As we try to prepare for our little bundle of joy, we don't necessarily want to hear the debate on deli meat, vaccinations, or scary stories about pre-term labor from every mom with a Facebook profile.
LivingandLoving.co.za suggests that we avoid using social media and researching too much as they can fuel our paranoia. Things can go wrong. But we can't worry and stress ourselves out for no actual reason. It isn't good for mom or baby.
1 The Online Mommy Critics Never Stop
Social media has given mommy shaming an entirely new presence. It's suddenly everywhere as overly opinionated, pushy moms battle our parenting strategies and capabilities because it isn't how they do it. Mommy shaming is never necessary or helpful, but when we are pregnant, hormonal, and emotional, we especially do not need it.
According to TheBump.com the hottest topics that bring all of the mommy-shamers out of the wood work include vaccinations, how we feed our babies, and screen time. None of these are surprising. It isn't even mildly surprising that these shamers even go after expectant mothers because of their birth plans, what they eat while pregnant, or a dozen other personal decisions that should be between a pregnant woman and her doctor. Didn't anyone teach these mommy-shamers that if they have nothing nice to say they should keep it to themselves?