As I’ve been exploring the pregnancy and mom social media options since being pregnant, I’ve noticed there are consistent topics that I’m so confused why they are on social media at all. In today’s episode, we talk about posts and conversation that beg the question, “Should this be a post?”
At 38 weeks pregnant, these days it sometimes feels like I’m just biding time until I can finally meet our little girl. Throughout the pregnancy, I’ve spent more time on pregnancy and mom groups, blogs, podcasts – you name it. It’s a whole new world in social connections that I’m still getting used to and sometimes has been shocking to me. In today’s episode, we’re going have some fun talking about these mom or mom-to-be conversations happening online. So whether you’re pregnant, a mom, or just want a laugh – then this one’s for you. Let’s dive in.
Taking the good with the bad
When I became pregnant, I quickly learned how lonely this process could be. Especially at the beginning when you aren’t telling folks yet and you’re struggling with nausea and fatigue on the couch. So early on, I started to look into ways I could connect with other pregnant people and moms and I turned to the internet. I joined a couple different facebook groups and the app, Peanut.
Throughout this pregnancy, these connections have really helped with the feelings of isolation. I’ve even met a couple of women that I have a true connection with in real life which has been rewarding. I’ve participated in forums, comment sections and have received support from the groups.
So in general, I would say I’ve had a positive experience in the social media space with these groups. I’ve seen conversations about topics I’ve never even considered and gotten some useful tips not only for pregnancy, but for the fourth trimester and beyond.
However, not all interactions have been beneficial. I’ve also noticed quite a bit of toxicity and at times pure ridiculousness that have either made me laugh, or made me question the benefits of these groups. I think the worst is the overall judgment between moms or moms-to-be for doing things differently than you would have. In some cases, it’s probably fair – like smoking while pregnant, but in other cases, it’s just being an asshole and pretty uncalled for.
In a society where the trials and tribulations of women during pregnancy and beyond are minimized, the last thing we need is for other women to make us feel worse. It’s sad to me that there are women out there that would rather make you feel bad about yourself than try to help or build you up. Ladies – can we just stop doing this? While it’s an old rule – can we follow the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rule? I see a lot on these forums and I’m not going to say I don’t judge or have negative thoughts – but it’s what you do with them that matters. Is it necessary to share those thoughts with the person that is posting? What is that accomplishing? Is it benefiting them? Or just making you feel superior? What are your intentions in that comment?
In my opinion, I really can’t stand the bullying that happens in comment sections when people hide behind their profiles. The idea that it’s ok to say discouraging things to a stranger just because it’s online is sad, and pathetic really. So let’s dive into some of the topics I’ve seen the most that baffle me.
At least five to ten times a day I see posts of pictures of pregnancy tests asking the group if they are pregnant. This is a consistent conversation that I have chosen to stay silent 99% of the time. The pictures sometimes have one test, or sometimes have multiple tests. Some are digital tests that say Yes or No or Pregnant or Not Pregnant while others are the strips where the poster is asking if you see one line or two. The posts usually just have a pic and ask for input, but rarely have any context as to when they took them, in what order or where in their cycle – were they super early and five days before your missed period? Or are we talking about a week or more after your missed period?
Every time I see these posts, I have so many thoughts that pop into my head. The biggest one being – if it’s not obvious to you if it’s positive or not – it’s either too early to tell or you’re not pregnant. Pregnancy tests aren’t that complicated. It isn’t a sudoku puzzle you can’t figure out. The answer is pretty clear on the test itself – and they are very accurate. But the factors that can throw them off are important information that is never included in the posts and this group of strangers would never know.
Like a post I saw today – it had four tests, two digital that say Yes or No and two strips. I’ve included the picture at the bottom of this post for reference. I’m
One of the tests says Yes, the rest say either No or very clearly say have one line (which is a no). Her post gave no background on this picture other than, “I’m confused – how come one says yes and the rest say no?” Now I understand why you may be confused with this – but without the context of when these were taken – how the hell is anyone else supposed to answer this?
From my experience, this could be a chemical pregnancy like mine back in November. When I tested the first day of my missed period and got a couple yesses, but then three days later I was getting a no and started my period. Were these all taken the same day? How early were they taken? Has there been any other side effects? Also, if it is a chemical pregnancy, or a miscarriage of another kind – do you really want to get that information from a group of strangers rather than your doctor?
This one I could at least understand the confusion -but some of them are so blatantly obviously negative, I’m the one that’s confused as to how the hell she’s so confused on the result! And these are the more common of the two types. I’ve also shared an example of this below.
It’s clearly just one line and she posts the same looking photo about eight times. Again with zero context as to timing of these tests between each other or within her cycle. Even if you see a very faint second line – that context could change the answer dramatically.
Are they posting because they really want to hear they aren’t pregnant? Or they miscarried from a group of random women? Or are they just looking for people to tell them what they want to hear? Is either of these two options even healthy? Is this the right forum for this question? Why is this not a conversation with your doctor vs. Susan from DesMoines, Iowa in which you’ve never met?
The worst part is how quick women are to respond Congratulations! You’re definitely pregnant! If I put a filter on the photo and shine a spotlight on it, I can see a faint line – you’re pregnant! Ok that last one is a little bit of an exaggeration, but it’s actually not that inaccurate to some of what you see in the comments. And that makes matters so much worse! What if the poster has been trying for a really long time and feels like giving up and you’re here giving her false hope so when she does talk to the doctor it’s so much harder to hear the truth?
Like I said, for the most part, I never comment on these. I don’t want to be the one that gives her false hope or crush her dreams. But there was one time I did. Why? Because all pregnant women, I’m hormonal and we have our days. That particular day, I was in a bad mood and saw a post where there were like 15 negative tests all in a row and women were straight up congratulating her for her pregnancy. I couldn’t take it anymore and nicely commented “I’m sorry but I just don’t see a second line but maybe it’s too early to tell and you should reach out to your doctor to get a blood test”. Even on my worst hormonal day, I was still at least nice about it!
Crowd-Sourced Medical Advice
Another crazy trend is what I call crowd-sourced medical advice. The amount of posts that are asking strangers in forums serious medical questions, is astounding. And the advice in the comments is actually quite terrifying because 9 out of 10 times it’s also completely wrong or unfounded. What do I mean by medical advice?
First you have the ultrasound pictures. For some reason, pregnant women post an early on ultrasound picture and ask the group to analyze it for concerns they have. Now if you aren’t familiar with ultrasound pics, I’ve included an example of one from a post recently below.
Early on in pregnancy, like the one I included, you can’t tell what the hell you’re looking at. You can see a black circular space with some sort of blob in it. Usually a nurse practitioner does the ultrasound and gives you some information on what you are looking at, if things look normal etc and then sends the images to your doctor to analyze and walk you through it further and answer any questions you have.
Hell, even later in pregnancy, sometimes you can’t really tell what you are looking at. At my 36 week appointment, we had our final ultrasound and it ended up being really disappointing because we didn’t get any good views of the baby. Her position was very cramped because I’m so far along and her head was pretty much using my placenta as a pillow so it was nearly impossible to get a good view of her face. The nurse kept trying to get her to move to get a better view, but couldn’t. At the end of the day, she got the measurements she needed to estimate the weight and height of the baby, but the visuals for us were a letdown.
But in no world would I think that the best place to ask questions about any of my ultrasounds was a Facebook Group. Ultrasounds are a medical practice in which require trained professionals to read the results – and even then a lot of it is directional and estimations. So how do you think any of these random women are going to know what to tell you about your ultrasound? It honestly boggles my mind.
There are a lot of posts about symptoms, what’s normal, what’s not. In my opinion – asking about other women’s experiences is fair game. Like if you want to post how you just started your third trimester and your nausea and fatigue is back and you’re curious on how other women dealt with it – fine. That makes sense.
But if your question is if a symptom is normal, or if any sort of pain or blood coming from your nether-region is acceptable then girl – call your damn doctor. I saw one the other day that said “I’m still bleeding three weeks postpartum, is this normal?”. If that happens to me, do you think Susan from Detroit will be my go-to expert? Or am I better off just calling my OB? At a minimum google it – but that can really send you into a rabbit hole that will freak you out way more than just a quick email to your doctor. So do us all a favor and just call your doctor.
Once the baby arrives, I’ve seen some crazy questions with obvious answers like “Am I asking too much for my mother to wash her hands before she holds the baby because she smokes 40-60 cigarettes a day?” Yes, that was a real question. Or “I wanted a clock for my kids bedroom and all the other clocks were on sale except the one I wanted. So I took a discount sticker from the other clocks and put it on the one I wanted to get a discount. Is that stealing?”. Um…of course it is! You paid less than it was priced for, so that is stealing. It was also crazy to me how many women were like – No, not stealing! Or cheering her on. Great role models here folks. Way to go.
How about “What vitamins do you give your newborn?”. This one really confused me. First of all, no matter how you feed your newborn – breastfeeding or formula, it was my understanding they would get the nutrition they need from these sources, not vitamins. So I did ask that question because I was genuinely confused as to why this was even a question. Her answer was that the pediatrician said her newborn was deficient in a vitamin because of a genetic circumstance and recommended taking supplements. Ok, that’s fair – but then my question is – why are you posing this as a question to this group? If my pediatrician gave that recommendation, wouldn’t your next question to that doctor be – and which ones do you recommend? If you trust your pediatrician to follow their direction, why wouldn’t you trust their reco over someone that has never met you or your child? Am I wrong here?
The third most posted area is around relationship issues. And I’m not talking about the typical, normal day, struggles couples can go through when they have a new baby. If you look at the sheer number of crazy, troubling, stories – you’d pretty much assume your relationship is f-ed if you have kids. But as I read through them, I start to not only feel bad for the person that is posting, but more so empathetic to the child for being brought into this toxic and at times abusive household!
There are all sorts of posts that could be their own horror movies if expanded upon. There’s stories about partners pressuring their pregnant counterparts to have sex when they don’t feel well or threatening to cheat on them if they don’t have sex with them. Or fathers that are just never around at all, and actively avoid the household to avoid responsibility. There’s the abusive comments about the woman’s body -either gaining too much weight during pregnancy or not losing it fast enough and just pure body shaming in general. I could go on.
What’s worse is the poster always posts this horrific story and then asks if they are overreacting or what they should do. A part of me always wants to comment on these and say “Run!” What some of these women are going through is truly awful, but the sad reality is leaving is not always an option either. But there are other more ridiculous posts on this topic that are less heart wrenching – so let’s focus there. I’m not trying to bring everyone’s mood down today.
There are more posts than I ever thought around asking women on the app to join in a threesome. Listen, to each their own, however if you are in the market for a third sexual partner, is Peanut the app you would use? Peanut – the app that has the tagline “Find Friends and Support”? I know the app is about making connections but I don’t think that is what they had in mind! Isn’t that what Tinder is for? Or I’m sure there’s a specific app for that. But there’s some freaky women on this app looking for a good time! Who knew!
And some of the posts with relationship woes make me actually feel bad for the man. One specifically stands out to me. This woman had posted about how she had found a picture of a woman on instagram that had her, and I quote, “dream body”. Red flag number one. So she takes this photo and sends it to her husband to ask what he thinks of the woman. Red flag number two. His response, which I have to say isn’t that bad considering the trap that was set for him, “You would leave me if you looked like that”. It feels like he’s trying to be lighthearted about it and didn’t know what else to say. Of course, that is not how she took it – although I have no idea what she would have wanted him to say. She got upset and was asking the group if she was overreacting by being upset with him.
This one I had to respond. I mean, first of all – what was the goal of sending that photo to him? What the hell was he supposed to do in that situation? He can’t say the woman is ugly because you wouldn’t believe him. He can’t say you look better than her, because you wouldn’t believe him. What did she want him to say exactly? What would have made her happy? It’s like asking a man – do I look fat? There’s no good answer to that! If he says no, you don’t believe him. If he says yes, you’re mad he called you fat. This guy never had a chance with this question.
But more importantly, it is never a good idea to use other people’s photos as your physical goals. Especially on social media. We all know the power of the camera position, lighting, filters, editing and all that jazz that’s used to project what we want to project and not reality. But also, that person’s body you’re basing your success on may not even be physically achievable for you and you’re just setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
As a 90’s kid, hitting puberty when the thigh-gap was in, I can relate. I would look at these stick-thin models and wish I could look like them. The reality is my body type won’t ever let me have a thigh gap – it’s not achievable, at least not in a healthy manner. Especially women in postpartum – our bodies will change. Looking to other’s to compare our post baby bodies to is a dangerous game in which no good will come, so do yourself a favor – don’t.
And also, after diving into these relationship woes posts – it makes you feel really good about your own relationship. I read through these things and am like – in no way would Christian do any of this. It makes me really appreciate the partner I chose to spend my life with, but also to be the father of our baby girl. So on a good note – if you ever have a day where your partner is driving you crazy, read these posts and you’ll realize how great they actually are.
Stop the Comparison Game
No matter the conversation on social media, one thing is for sure – as women, we need to stop participating in the comparison game. The pregnancy comparisons, child birth decision comparisons, child-raising comparisons and all the judgment that comes with it. These groups are as helpful as you want them to be, but they can also be as harmful as you’ll let them be. It’s so important to take all of it with a grain of salt. Ignore the haters, embrace the supporters and choose what to engage in based on your own needs. Being pregnant, birthing a child and recovering from it all while you try to figure out the new woman you are is a very difficult, yet personal journey. We have enough pressures from our families, work, society – you name it.
We need to support and lift up each other, not tear eachother down. We need to make it easier for one another, not harder. It may be damn near impossible to never judge or have a negative thought, but you know what’s a lot easier? Choosing to not say anything. If someone believes something different or raises their kids differently, it has no reflection on you or your parenting. Keep your opinion to yourself and consider how the person on the receiving end will feel. You don’t have to agree, but you also don’t have to share or comment. Remember the golden rule “Treat others as you’d like to be treated”.
Thank you so much for joining me today. I don’t know how many more episodes I have before my baby decides to join us – but I’ll keep you posted via my social channels. So follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to get the latest updates. Please rate and review this podcast on Apple Podcasts and Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts to make sure you are always up to date on the latest episodes.
Until next time!