Pregnancy and birth have changed a lot over the years. Women have more control over their birth plans with their partner by their side, able to help coach them through birth, whether it’s with a doctor or midwife.
Millennial moms are the new generation of parents, spanning a large cohort of the population (born in and around the time period of 1980 to the early 2000’s). At this point, one in five mothers are millennial parents, and recent stats show them making up nearly 90 percent of new mothers in the past year.
Millennials are a unique generation who are chastised by the baby boomers for loving their avocado toast, but realistically are the most highly educated generation of grown-ups around. Thanks to their research-based and discerning tastes they are making their own paths to parenthood, one that is decidedly different from how they were raised themselves, one that many argue is usually for the better, and uniquely their own. Many seek a balance between different parenting philosophies and are happy to learn from their mistakes, and are unapologetically unafraid to ask questions that challenge the status quo.
Here are 14 Things Pregnant Millennials Do differently than previous generations and six that doctors wish they’d just stop.
20 Do Differently: Pregnancy Apps
This is a technology savvy generation, and they are going to use these modern breakthroughs to help them navigate their pregnancies. From fertility monitoring apps on their phone, to ones that track the size of fruit baby is each week, to ones that can help select that perfect baby name – millennial moms have this covered. Julie McCaffrey, owner of BabyNavBaby Planners says, "Many hospitals are now offering virtual tours. And many millennial parents are opting to take their infant care classes online."
19 Do Differently: Paging Dr. Google
The low tech pregnancy 'must read' was What to Expect When You’re Expecting and while many millennial moms may have read it (likely on a tablet), most of the information coming in is via the web. A generation obsessed with knowledge is likely to research every facet of their pregnancy and each new symptom or milestone via Dr. Google. The New York Times posted about research focused parents, "Google is the new grandparent, the new neighbour, the new nanny. The good news is that parents know more about child development than ever before.” While knowledge is power, there is a lot of misinformation out there and real concerns or ‘fixes’ should be run by your primary health care practitioner.
18 Do Differently: Gender Reveals
Just a few generations ago birth was when the big gender reveal happened. Today parents can usually find out the gender of their baby ahead of time. A study conducted by Harvard Medical School revealed that roughly 58 percent of all parents surveyed opted to find out the gender of their child ahead of time. Today many millennial parents make this news a huge event, where the expectant parents cut into a cake revealing pink or blue, setting off smoke bombs, or popping a balloon to release confetti indicating baby’s gender. Some parents are beginning to stay away from these events as they reinforce old school gender stereotypes that we have all been working to end.
17 Do Differently: Education is Key
Social media based education and getting life hacks from other parents is key for millennial moms. The average millennial mom uses 3.4 different social media accounts to filter their information, with most spending around 17 hours each week on these networks, which is four more hours than modern moms from other generations. Dr. Joanne Stone says, "I think the Internet is a great tool for pregnant women to get information. It's helping them become more informed and more involved. They can get information about their doctors, pregnancy conditions and find good educational material. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with a problem, there are online support groups they can join."
16 Do Differently: The Birth Plan
Previous generations had their birth plans dictated to them by their doctors. Today expecting parents have a lot of choice when it comes to planning their birth. It’s not unheard of for a mom to reach out to her social media network in search for that perfect OBGYN, midwife, or prenatal class. These moms aren’t’ afraid to speak up and ask for what they want when it comes to their pregnancy, and the way these moms are better able to advocate for themselves will change health care forever, for the better!
15 Do Differently: Weekly Baby Bump Pics
With digital photography parents are better able to document their pregnancies and the lives of their children. Enter the baby bump selfie – a rite of passage for millennials who take photos each week of their growing baby belly to document their pregnancy. Especially tech savvy moms will even turn these pictures into a time lapse video to showcase their entire journey and share online. While millennial moms are great at keeping digital records of their children, odds are they’ve been dragging their feet on creating a physical photo album for their kiddo.
14 Do Differently: Chemical-Free Pregnancies
Increasing research has let moms know what to avoid in pregnancy. In just the span of one generation moms have learned the dangers that chemicals can cause in their pregnancy (which is one of the reasons why mom outsourced painting the nursery). Millennial moms read ingredients lists and check them twice; they go online to find out what nail salons use baby safe polishes for their pedicures. In addition to avoiding chemicals millennial moms are all about eating organic. The Organic Trade Association says 52 percent of their customers are (drum roll please) millennials.
13 Do Differently: Celebrating With A Baby Moon
Anyone who has experience with children knows that it’s a lot of work, and even as the kids get older that vacations aren’t going to be the same for quite some time – enter the ‘babymoon’. A millennial invented vacation, this is the bachelor party (complete with mocktails) of parenthood, giving parents one last chance to spend some quality alone time before baby arrives. Most babymoons will happen in the second trimester when mom isn’t feeling the effects of morning sickness and is able to travel a distance without the fear of going into labour while abroad.
12 Do Differently: Home Births
Not until I had a hospital birth did I truly appreciate the appeal of a home birth, (as a high risk twin pregnancy it wasn’t in the cards for me), but I got it. The comfort of your home base, your own bed, and shower after it’s all over sounds pretty good. Millennial moms are bringing birth away from the hospital and back to their house. In 2004, 0.79 percent of American births were at home, by 2012 that number rose to 1.28 percent.
11 Do Differently: 3D And 4D Ultrasounds
It’s pretty exciting, albeit nothing like they show in the movies, when you get to see your baby on an ultrasound. Millennial parents have no patience for regularly scheduled ultrasound appointments, which is why so many pay for 3D and 4D ultrasounds to get a closer look at the baby they’re going to meet in a few months. Millennial parents should note that although ultrasounds are safe, there aren’t any long term studies about any potential safety implications of using this 3D and 4D technology.
10 Do Differently: Pinterest Board Everything
Before I was a mom Pinterest wasn’t my thing, but it’s grown on me. Many pregnant moms can use this site for “pinspiration” on designing their nursery, maternity photo shoot poses, first birthday party planning, and just about everything under the sun related to their pregnancy and child. While some argue that sites like these perpetuate the mommy wars, I get some of my best game, party, and recipe ideas from Pinterest and I wish I used it during my own pregnancy.
9 Do Differently: Making Fitness A Pregnancy Priority
Modern moms aren’t going to be martyrs, and many are happy to outsource housework and child care to get the ‘me time’ they crave. A recent survey revealed that 20 percent of millennial moms say they’d happily fork over $150 a month to hire someone to help them manage their schedules and take on chores. Part of this 'me time' involves making their fitness a priority. More and more fitness classes offer instructors with prenatal training who can help moms adjust their activities to remain active and safe throughout their pregnancy.
8 Do Differently: The Doting Doula
Doulas have been around for some time, but since millennial moms hit the pregnancy scene they have enjoyed a lot of press and attention. While the midwife focuses on the birth of a child, a doula is an educated professional who tends specifically to mom and her needs. Doulas provide mom with both emotional and physical support, during labour and while mom is recovering with a focus on making birth a memorable, safe, and empowering experience. A recent study revealed, “having a doula as a member of the birth team decreases the overall caesarean rate by 50 percent, the length of labour by 25 percent, the use of oxytocin by 40 percent, and requests for an epidural by 60 percent.”
7 Do Differently: Push Presents
All it took was the other partner to be present in the labour room to figure out exactly how trying birth can be. Millennial moms seek a little additional motivation for their birthing experience (beyond parenthood). This is where the push present comes in… a little participation award for making it through pregnancy and child birth. Some opt for big ticket items like diamond earrings, where others have a smaller budget that’s a little more practical. My husband bought me an E-reader as my “push present” which allowed me to listen to regular books as if they were audio books while I was caring for my infants.
6 Don't Recommend: Live Streaming The Labour
Since the advent of social media and blogging there has been a lot of oversharing. This isn’t just about status updates, for some it’s about live-streaming their birth. Mom blogger Rebecca Meldrum decided to live-stream the birth of her third child while 26,000 tuned in. While this is interesting and educational, an entourage in the birthing suite may not be the best thing, particularly for those with a high risk pregnancy. Consider me fickle, but I’d rather have the space in the hospital room for emergency medical personnel if needed instead of a camera crew (also I was there for my own children’s birth – no one needed to see that).
5 Don't Recommend: Turning It Into Pills
Many celebrities (Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Mayim Bialik, and Alicia Silverstone) swear by consuming your own placenta post birth. Some freeze it and cook it up, while others pay services to turn it into pills, but there is no real medical evidence that it does anything to help heal a recovering mom. Dr. Amos says of a study from The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Don't eat your baby's placenta. There are no benefits, and there are potential risks (including): ingesting toxins and hormones that accumulated in the placenta during pregnancy.”
4 Don't Recommend: An Inflexible Birth Plan
While millennial moms tend to be well-read, life is full of surprises and sometimes things will have to change on the fly – and that includes a birth plan. A big misdemeanor here is that a birth plan is what’s going to happen – it’s really more of a list of preferences than a plan per se. While many millennial moms dream of a drug free birth, sometimes things like delayed birth, the need for Pitocin to speed up labour, or mom or baby’s health mean an epidural or C-section are necessary. Rest assured, even if you don’t get your warrior natural birth mom moment, you are still a warrior mom and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
3 Don't Recommend: Not Following The Doctor's Orders
Millennials read a lot more than we give them credit for. Apparently 67 percent of millennials, on average, read a book at least once a week. While mom would more likely consult a blog or book than her doctor or her own mom about her pregnancy, it's wise to leave the medical heavy lifting to the people who went to school for it. Listen to what your health care practitioner says, if you’ve been put on bed rest it’s for a reason – the health of you and your baby. Now is not the time to be a ‘hero’.
2 Don't Recommend: Not Knowing When To Step Back
Stress can be hard on both mom and baby. And while millennials are in a precarious job market (meaning they’re working hard to save up money for their parental leave and to keep their jobs to support their families), they also need to watch their health. A study conducted by John Hopkins University and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development showed that mild to moderate levels of stress can be good for baby, and is even connected with advanced early child development. Just the same, take a nap when you need it, attend a prenatal yoga class, and know when to slow down.
1 Don't Recommend: Relying On The Fetal Heart Monitor
Being an early adopter of modern technology is something millennials are proud of, including their use of the at-home fetal heart rate monitor. Doctors caution that these monitors can cause unnecessary stress and are best left to trained professionals. Elizabeth Hutton, CEO of Kicks Count—a stillbirth charity, warns of these machines, “The device isn't intuitive, and it's not something a person who isn't a medical professional trained to use it could just pick up and understand. Regardless of how you operate the device, simply using it could harm your fetus. For instance, a mother might not detect a heartbeat and assume something bad has happened, even when it hasn't. This can cause needless stress to a pregnant woman when she cannot pick up her baby's heartbeat, it can lead to raised blood pressure in the mother, and premature births."
Sources: Parent Map, Fit Pregnancy, Baby Chick, Science Daily, Pop Sugar, Babygaga