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This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Is Facebook pressurising new mums?

Women who share a 'perfect pregnancy' can make others feel insecure, poll suggests
WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith
painted baby bump

19th March 2013 - Women are increasingly sharing details of their pregnancy online, but new research suggests that some new mothers feel that this trend is beginning to get out of hand.

A joint survey from parenting site Netmums and the Department for Health's Start4Life campaign has discovered it is easy to experience a sense of failure if your friend's status update on Facebook shows they are experiencing a 'perfect pregnancy'.

Piling on the pressure

"The internet is often a source of support and advice for mums and mums-to-be, but the relationship many have with Facebook can be complex," says Siobhan Freegard, Netmums founder in a statement. "Whilst lots of mums enjoy sharing information and offering advice, new trends and the desire to show the best possible image to the world can mean that many mums feel the site piles on the pressure."

Social media has given women a new platform to share news about their pregnancies. Posting a picture of a scan was once considered unusual, but now 88.9% of mothers say they have seen an image from a friend's scan. In addition:

  • 78% have seen a photo of a friend's bump
  • Nearly a third (32.3%) have seen a shared professional pregnancy photo-shoot
  • More than a quarter (27.6%) have seen a picture of a body-painted bump
  • Around a fifth (21.6%) have viewed a photo of a positive pregnancy test

Sharing tips and advice

The poll found that 44% of mothers surveyed viewed social media sites in a positive light because it gave them the opportunity to share pregnancy information and seek advice from friends. More than three quarters of women (75.6%) are keen to be of help online, responding to friends’ enquiries if they think they can help with a question or concern about pregnancy.

However, with the trend for sharing pregnancy information growing fast, the survey also reveals that:

  • More than four in 10 (44.8%) of respondents think people are beginning to over-share
  • Nearly seven in 10 (68.1%) feel that on Facebook, mothers-to-be were are more likely to try to show a ‘perfect’ pregnancy than a realistic one
  • More than a third (28.3%) go as far to say that the site increases the sense you’re a failure if you don’t have a ‘perfect’ pregnancy

The top five pregnancy themes discussed by women on Facebook are:

  • Movement of the baby
  • What they are eating
  • Things they will buy for the baby
  • Whether they are putting on weight
  • The impact of pregnancy on their body

Talking about health

Many respondents believe that Facebook can be a force for good when it comes to support around important issues. For instance, 81% think it would be a positive thing if mums talked more about their health.

Dr Dawn Harper, a GP, television presenter and Start4Life ambassador says in a statement: "Many think of Facebook as a place to share pictures of bumps and tales of cravings, so it’s encouraging to see that many mothers think it would be better used to discuss matters such as health, and are keen to offer support to other mothers.

"However to do the best job at this, it’s important we’re well informed, and Start4Life is a brilliant one stop shop that can answer all the questions on pregnancy you, or your Facebook friends, may have."

Reviewed on March 19, 2013

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