Before I was even pregnant, when we first started trying to conceive, I found myself visiting all of the mommy-focused websites out there… Babycenter, Kaboose, Babytalk, and American Baby to name a few. I absorbed as much info as I could about trying to conceive, the earliest signs of pregnancy, tips for a healthy pregnancy, preparing for baby and so on. I frequented the community areas, joining in on forums and conversations. When I actually finally got pregnant, my participation increased threefold. I joined a “birth club” on Babycenter, and connected with other women who were due around the same time as me. We chatted daily, sharing our fears, concerns, hopes and dreams. We supported and learned from each other. It gave us a forum to ask questions that we might not have anyone else to ask. Some posts dealt with heavier subjects such as genetic screenings and the fear of receiving negative results, or the news of a late term miscarriage. Others were more lighthearted and led to debates regarding breast or bottle, cloth diaper or disposable. Through some we learned things about pregnancy and labor that no one had every told us before… like the fact that pooping on the table during labor is actually a common occurrence (oh my god the horror!).
For many women, these types of online groups provided a great sense of community and support. They are a go-to resource for the 40 weeks of pregnancy and often times continue on into motherhood. My Babycenter “birth club” still connects daily. Posts now tend to focus on developmental milestones and the issues that we face as new moms.
While I am so thankful to have had and have the group for support, I do think that there is a potential negative effect of all of the connecting we are doing nowadays in this new world of digital moms. There are many many things I have learned through my different connections online. It is true that for the most part knowledge is power, but there is also some validity to the notion that ignorance is bliss. While the web allowed me to go through pregnancy and enter motherhood armed with knowledge that I would not have otherwise had, it has also at times caused me to worry unnecessarily and obsess over things that, without it, I would never even thought of. I read post after post about women going into early labor and grew convinced that the same thing would happen to me. Other women would comment about how much they were feeling their baby move inside them, while I was still feeling nothing. Was my baby ok? What did this mean? People shared stories about mothers they knew who had a baby die of SIDS. I quickly removed all blankets and bumpers from our son’s crib and lectured my mother and mother-in-law about the importance of sleep safety. When BPA became a hot topic, I quickly went out and bought all new bottles. The amount of times that a story/posting that I read online drove me to either make or change a decision regarding my little one are countless.