Social media gets a bad rap, more often than not and especially from previous generations who grew up without it. It’s just the way of things; every generation has to gripe about the "young folk" coming up behind them, waxing nostalgic about the way things were when everyone talked to each other in person or by carrier pigeon or whatever. However, there are definitely times when
social media is the best thing for a new mom, despite what detractors say. Clearly, it has to be really useful at least sometimes, or we’d never put up with the downsides, like flame wars about breastfeeding versus formula-feeding and viral conspiracy-peddling subcultures that scare people away from life-saving breakthroughs like vaccines.
I don’t know how I would have
survived pregnancy or postpartum life without the support of people I love but can’t physically see every day, as well as the online communities who have and continue to share knowledge, resources, and support that I’ve come to rely on. There is so much to know and attempt to figure out when you're planning for your baby, going through pregnancy, and after you start your life with your new baby or babies. Though we're fortunate to have thousands of books and millions of articles just a few clicks away, that also means we're awash in information, often without a way to sort what's useful from what's useless. Meanwhile, recommendations for everything to do with child health and safety change rapidly, so the advice our own parents, aunties, in-laws, and others have to offer us, however well-intentioned, can also be frighteningly unhelpful. There's got to be a way to sort through it all, and your friends and acquaintances online are often the best guides.
Plus, without social media, how would we
share photos of our adorable little ones? Just walk up to people and stick your phone in their face? That's just weird and inefficient. No, social media is often the best thing for new moms, especially at times like these.
When She Needs A Quick Way To Keep Everyone Updated On What’s Happening With Her Family
Once upon a time, people almost never moved beyond their local village or town, and they saw all their family members in person on a daily or near-daily basis, and they were only expected to be in regular touch with
something like 150 people. Now, we all move all the time, and the people we care about are scattered across the country (and the world). Because we have social media, we’re also expected to maintain familiar-feeling ties with thousands of people, but we can’t possibly call or write to all those people to tell them we’re pregnant or gave birth. Thank goodness for social media, so we can blast a clever photo announcement and move on with our lives. (After calling or texting our besties and close family members, of course.)
When She’s The First Of Her Friends To Have Kids And Needs Community
This was totally me: in possession of a positive pregnancy test and totally at a loss because my sister lived hundreds of miles away with a baby of her own who kept her busy, and local friends whose primary responsibilities revolved around their drunken dodgeball teams. Being the
first of your friends to have kids can be really tough. Finding other new moms who get where you’re coming from, can steer you away from common pitfalls, and who have awesome mom-hacks to share, is a total blessing.
When She Finally Finds Her Mama Tribe
Once you figure out what style of mom you are, having a group of people who share your values and priorities can be so clutch. This goes double for moms whose specific parenting subculture is hard to find in her local community, ‘cause it’s not like there are tons of Extended Breastfeeding Gryffindor Babywearers just hanging out at the library story hour. (Though if you are, please find me so we can be best friends!)
When She Needs Advice On A Baby Item, But Can’t Even Handle All The Google Results About It
I don’t know how people put together baby registries before Facebook. How are you supposed to narrow down your choices of stroller, or figure out which car seat works best in your car, or distinguish “must haves” from “useful-sounding ripoff you’ll never actually use” without the help of friends (or mom group acquaintances) who’ve already been there and done that?
When Her Baby/Toddler Is Sick For The First Time
Were it not for social media, I would never have known about the grossest-sounding and most useful tool ever invented, the Nosefrida. Unlike the largely useless unsolicited advice you get while you’re pregnant, having the ability to actually
ask for good advice from people you know and trust (at least somewhat) can be enormously helpful. Plus, just being able to vent to the world that life is so crummy at the moment, and instantly get dozens of messages offering support, tips, and tricks you would never have thought to ask for in return, is the greatest.
When She’s Not Sure If Her Pregnancy Or Postpartum Quirks Are Normal
Sometimes, something is weird is going on, but you don't happen to have a ton of mom friends (or a bevy of doulas in your contacts) to ask about it. Or maybe you're too embarrassed to direct a question to people who actually know you. Or maybe you're concerned enough to wonder, but not concerned enough to want to haul your pregnant self all the way to the OB’s office, and you don't want to Google it because Google
always turns up the worst case scenario. Online Mom Groups to the rescue! Sure, you have to brave the occasional argument about when to introduce solid foods or circumcision or whatever, but that's a small price to pay to hear that "the thing" you’re worried about actually happens to almost everybody. (Or, that it doesn't, and you really should call your doctor.)
When She’s Not Sure If This Thing Her Baby Is Doing Is Normal
Is your baby’s poop looking weird? Do they seem like they’re about to walk before they’ve even crawled? If they are crawling, are they doing it in a funny way that gives you pause? Poll the crowd! Reassurance is everything when you’re trying to survive life as a new mom.
When She’s Not Sure If Her Feelings About Her New Family Are OK
Sometimes, stuff comes up during your first months and years of motherhood that you’re barely willing to admit to yourself, let alone the people whose relationships mean the most to you, which you can’t even imagine risking. Sometimes, it takes empathetic strangers to give you the compassion, understanding, and courage you need to speak up for yourself and get the in-person help you need to keep on keepin’ on. In all seriousness, I’ve witnessed groups of people, acquainted only by username, save other mothers’ lives by offering safe, encouraging spaces to open up and speak the previously unspeakable. Our online relationships can be very, very real.
When Her Partner/Extended Family Are Being, Um, Challenging
exactly what I’m talking about. Sometimes, the people you live with every day just don't get it. Whether they’re pushing your buttons about feeding choices, projecting some sexist, outdated nonsense onto your kid, or whatever random thing they’d never do with their precious baby, finding a faraway mom friend or long-lost buddy to vent to, who won’t turn around and tell those people what you said, can be super helpful. Bonus points if they give you some language you can use to have a productive conversation and shut down the needless aggravation from the people in question.
When She Sees An Article That Completely Captures How She’s Feeling Right Now
Sometimes, you’re just too tired or too at a loss for words to articulate what’s going on in your body and your mind and your heart as you go through life with a brand new human. Then, some other wonderful mom shares something that expresses the inexpressible, and you can barely stop yourself from yelling “
Yassssss! Exactly!” at the top of your lungs. Of course, you do stop yourself from actually yelling out loud, because there’s probably a sleeping baby on your chest. You also share and retweet that ish immediately (especially if it captures how you’re feeling about your partner and/or your in-laws, without you having to be the one to subtweet. Because # petty.)
When She Has The Chance To Help Another New Mom Feel Better About Her Journey
Babyhood and toddlerhood are both so fleeting, and before you know it, you’re no longer really a new mom anymore. But new moms are born every day, and having the chance to share some hard-won wisdom with your community feels just as good as receiving it.