Thursday, September 10, 2009

birth clubs and other online mommy groups

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.

24 comments:

Joy said...

Alexandra, you make some good points in this post.

When I was pregnant with my first, I read just about everything I could get my hands on and felt very well-prepared. No internet at that time. If there had been, I'm sure I would've ran up against the same things you describe here.
And the last thing a pregnant lady needs to be doing is stressing! :o)

Thanks so much for leaving a comment at SCSI. I love each and every comment I get at both blogs, but the ones that are left for me at SCSI are priceless.

Sheena Marie said...

Love your blog! You have a new follower!
Thanks for the comment on my 9/11 posting.
So true!

Looking forward to staying tuned in on your journal!

-Sheena

ModernMom said...

I so agree with this. I think the hard part is taking the good from these sites and making or brains ignore the bad!
Another example (for me the germ a phob lol) are sites like Symptom checker! A simple cough can be pneumonia, tummy ache...good grief maybe it's a kidney stone!

Jen said...

I agree with you. There is so much information out there and sometimes we can have too much of it. I see this all the time in my work. I am a nurse (RN) and people will google symptoms or illness and get information about it, which is good but sometimes it is the wrong info.
Anyway, I think that sometimes the old saying 'ignorance is bliss' hold true.

Martha said...

Visiting from SITS and your post is Spot On!! As a long time peds RN and mom of boys, 14 and 11 y/o, I also tell parents, Trust Your Instincts, no one knows your child better thank you including Dr.Google or this boards. I am glad we didn't have this overabundance of info when the boys were little, I had to pick up the phone and call my Mom or older Sis for advice.

Clueless_Mama said...

I definitely agree! Sometimes I love the act of NOT KNOWING. I still to this day worry about stuff I read and if it could happen to my babies. During pregnancy, my Dr. banned me from the computer. LOL

badmommymoments said...

I think you're on to something. While it's really great to connect with people online about things, it also makes it easier not to form real life friendships (for me, anyway). It's a terrible example for my daughters, so it's one I'm changing. But it's hard not to obsess when you're pregnant with your first kid, and sometimes information overload can be a bit suffocating...

But other times, it's downright hilarious. I guess, like everything else, it's all about finding balance.

Theta Mom said...

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. I remember freaking out with my first pregancy b/c I ate ham and your not supposed to eat it b/c the fear of listeria...there are just sooo many rules these days and you think our mothers didn't have a salami sandwich when they were preggers with us? Sometimes, I do think it's too much info!!!

Helen McGinn said...

So true; I have a friend who attended the doctors every other week with a new theory on her pregnancy thanks to the net. I think information is great but there comes a point you have to just let it go and relax. As we all know, accept that which interests you and reject that which doesn't. x

Xenia said...

You're definitely right with this one. Looking back on my first pregnancy, there are definitely things that I learned that helped... but there are definitely things that just scare you. Every person's experiences are going to be different and everyone is always going to have their own opinion, so it's nice to talk things over and ask questions but it's also nice to just let life teach you some lessons once in a while.

Nanny Dee said...

Great post! It is difficult not to obsess over all the things we learn online everyday. A few years ago I had a similar experience with reading too many women's magazines -- it was information (germs, health, parenting) overload!

The positive thing about our online connections is that there's always someone who has shared similar experiences, so we know we are not alone.

I do wish I had access to so many other moms when my daughter was very young (she's 20 now) as life at home with a small child can be wonderful in many ways but isolating as well.

Sophia's Mom said...

I completely understand. And trust me, it doesn't take much for my mind to go to a dark place. Which is why I stopped chatting on BabyCenter.

I love blogging much more!

Mommy Words said...

I agree that the health stuff can be overwhelming but to be honest I get most of that from my neighborhood moms group just as quickly as I do from message boards. I actually found some of my closest friends after my first miscarriage on what started as a miscarriage board and then turned to a TTC board. We are having our first meet up this year and more than 20 of us are going. I have now been friends with these girls for almost 2 years and it has been an amazing experience connecting with people who already wanted to talk about the same thing. I did not have to chit chat about that stuff with my IRL friends who did not know about the miscarriage and my hubby got a break. I will be forever grateful for my group which is now called the Luckies! Much love from a fellow SITSA!

Mommy Words said...

Oh and now following!

Ann On and On... said...

Nice post....

Welcome to SITS! It's great to have another member of our SITSerhood.

Mamarazzi said...

oh how i can relate to this post. YES it is sooo easy to get too wrapped up and invested in the blog world or internet communities good for you for seeing it for what it CAN be and even for what it often is.

I am here to welcome you to SITS! you are going to love this bloggy community filled with truly amazing and supportive women. Feel free to come by my blog and say hello. AND if you like follow me...I host a monthly drawing for fun prizes EXCLUSIVELY from my list of followers...no need to comment on every post, just follow. Cool Right?!

Janna Bee said...

I think you are right about some of the dangers in the world of readily available information, especially for those of us (me) who are kind of neurotic (me) and worry a lot (me). So I completely understand!

The (Un)Experienced Mom said...

Great post and love your blog! I was just like you and still talk to the ladies on-line who were pregnant at the same time I was with my first.

My MIL thinks we know too much now and I sometimes agree. Makes it much harder to parent using your intuition, b/c everything you read makes you question your intuition!

Feel free to checkout my blog at:

http://theunexperiencedmom.blogspot.com/
Tamara

first time mommy said...

I totally agree with what you're saying. There is so much information out there, that sometimes I think it's just a bit overwhelming. I had the seem fears about going into labor early. I kept thinking that we needed everything ready by 37 weeks because we were going to end up having to go to the hospital early.

Helen McGinn said...

Hi, wondering how you are! hope all is well and you are having a great New Year so far!

Helen xx

Double Duty Mommy said...

found you on MBC forum! following now!

follow me? http://doubledutymommy19.blogspot.com

Show Me Mama said...

Lovely blog. and your design. Really beautiful. I am now following you from MBC. You can follow me back http://showmemama.blogspot.com

Laina said...

I agree with you 100% on your post. I did the same thing. Ever since I found out I was pregnant I dove into the internet, trying to be as prepared as I could be. I read everything about pregnancy, labor, birth, the first year, you name it. When I picked out products to buy for the baby and register for the shower, I read every review people gave for it. And I did get some unnecessary stuff and convinced that things that were rare that happened to others would automatically happen to me. Great post! I will check up on your blog. I am new to the blogging world and just started mine last week about being a Navy wife and stay at home mom.
My BLog: http://reflectionsofanavywife.blogspot.com/

Mom2zqb said...

Hi! I'm stopping by from MBC. While pregnant with my youngest (he's now 3) I found Babycenter. It was nice chatting with women going through the same thing but it does make you worry more. I was lucky enough to end up with a group of 35 close friends that I still talk to daily!