The internet is one the most unnerving tools for mothers because it can add anxiety instead of removing it. I’m thinking of all the times a Google search has put me in a panic for things like accidentally eating soft cheese during pregnancy, or not getting the correct amount of some vitamin while breastfeeding.
The truth is, the internet is full of information about pregnancy and motherhood that’s conflicting and even (gasp!) just plain wrong.
The worst are forum-based websites for new and expecting moms, where people go back and forth for dozens of pages. If you don’t believe me, look up any herbal tea and whether it’s safe to have during pregnancy.
You’ll most definitely find your keyboard covered with tears if you read too many of these forums during pregnancy or early motherhood. No one needs that (and that’s not just because keyboards aren’t supposed to get wet).
My thought has always been that moms should go to their doctors or their loved ones before ending up on a forum, being made to feel like a horrible parent because they washed their kid’s hair with their own shampoo.
Since becoming a mom, however, I’ve found a reason to keep the wireless router plugged in.
One area of the internet is, in fact, an amazing tool for new and expecting mothers. It’s also the loveliest time-waster of them all: social media.
Social media is surprisingly rife with helpful tools for parents. In my experience, they’ve been mostly helpful (still not 100%, but better than the forums). There are Facebook groups for every aspect of parenthood. Since they’re so specialized, they have the upper-hand over vague discussion board websites.
I’m currently a member of the La Leche League Facebook group in my area (they have them all over), which offers tons of information about breastfeeding, eating in general, sleep schedules, babies’ mannerisms, and on and on.
I’m also a member of several mom-to-mom pages on Facebook, where moms constantly post all kinds of baby gear (toys, bouncers, swings, clothes, car seats, strollers, diapers, you name it), whether they’re for sale, for swap, or – get this – for free.
I’m sure this is exactly how Mom-to-mom sales work in real life too, but I love the Facebook groups because they’re 24/7, and you can post things you’re looking for and get direct responses any time you need them.
These kinds of groups defeat faceless forums in that they often host and encourage meetings in real life.
There are plenty of educational pages as well, about infant safety and what have you, but I have benefited most (and trusted most readily) those pages that were local and had other parents I knew in them as members. So search around for different local pages and see what you find. Most likely many of your Facebook parent friends are already members of some of these groups and would love to add you to them. It’s a great way to stay involved in your parenting community.
Instagram is another super parent-friendly part of social media.
There are hundreds of thousands of Instagram accounts that are basically just parents doing cool parenting things. Some are informative, some are silly, and some are just generally aesthetically pleasing, but they are definitely worth following if you have any interest.
I’m a sucker for any combination of chubby cheeks and extravagant vistas, so some of my favorite momstagrams include @heymamaco (a cool page for creative moms), @lovesakurabloom (some insanely artsy photos of moms and dads babywearing), and several different unique mom pages: @pracitisingsimplicity, @itsahuntlife, @megchittenden, and @kirstenrickert.
Of course, everything you learn on the internet needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
But once you have plenty of grains ready, you should definitely use this technology to your advantage. While I think new and expecting mothers should stay away from choosing the internet over their doctors, I give social media my highest recommendation for allowing moms to connect with one another and learn from each other in a very personal way.
And if social media really doesn’t move you, then at the very least you need to get on Macaroni Kid, because that website will definitely change your life. Good luck, millennial mammas and papas!