Being a new parent brings a lot of excitement and happiness and with that comes challenges as well. There is constant self-doubt about everything pertaining to child care because you want the best for your baby and do not want to make mistakes. There is constant search for validation among fellow parents as no one wants to feel alone in the parenting journey.
The age of millennials has brought forth with it a fresh outlook towards everything. They do things a little differently. Naturally, millennial parents have adopted practices that their previous generations didn’t or couldn’t engage in.
One of these is engaging on social media. About 71% of millennial parents pay heed to advice from parenting blogs, parenting websites, forums, and social networks.
We list down the reasons why social media has given a renewed outlook to parenting:
Creating a Community
Being active on social media means that you are always connected to people. You can ask for advice and gain knowledge from the testimonials of your peer groups. This acts like a life raft for a new parent for whom all the experiences are new and overwhelming. While new parents read a lot of books that give a plethora of suggestions and recommendations for parenthood, there isn’t any comparison to recommendations from your friends and peers. When you browse through the comments on the online parenting groups, you realize that there are parents in the same boat as yours.
Talking About the Taboos
The online platform provides a space for parents to address the age-old norms. One of them being breastfeeding in public. There is an ongoing need to sensitize the public and create spaces for mothers to be able to comfortably breastfeed their babies without being judged. Mothers also feel pressurized about going back to their routine post pregnancy. There is a looming thought about weight gain and inability to fit into old clothes. Reading articles and blogs via Facebook and chatting on Reddit, helps confront and offer solutions to these societal demands.
Forum for Fathers
For fathers, it is primarily important to create a suitable environment for the mother at home to feel comfortable about herself. It can become challenging for him as well. Reading through and talking about it online helps a father seek advice on how to help his wife during her maternity blues, breastfeeding and weaning stage.
The content online is interactive, crisp and relatable. You can skim through the information on-the-go. It is also a space where you can seek guidance on how to make the full utilization of your paternity leave.
Discover New Parenting Styles
Websites such as Breastfeeding Support for Indian Mothers and Facebook groups like Breastfeeding support groups provide not only advice but new information that one might not incur only from peer group interaction.
New parenting styles such as attachment parenting which is a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote parental attachment. This attachment is both by maximal parental empathy and responsiveness and by continuous bodily closeness and touch.
These online communities also organise events for parents, doctors and lactation consultants to come together and talk and engage on a topic that concerns all of them. Social media support is a lifeline and can be the difference between breastfeeding, giving up breastfeeding or depression and coping.
Address the Blues in the Room
Social media has enabled everyone to talk about depression. According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), up to 80 percent of new moms will deal with some negative feelings in the wake of childbirth. This happens due to hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and the general life changes associated with bringing a new baby into the world. Online support groups and news articles give room to the realization that there is someone just like you. It provides solutions and helps brings down the anxiety levels.
Millennial parents derive their insights about not only parenting but also baby products from testimonials from parenting websites. Whether it is about purchasing maternity wear, finding the right brand for baby food or investing in the right breast pump.
Seeking out Expert Advice
Reading and referring to books is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Parents are now turning to YouTube videos for doctor advice. Lactation consultants, psychologists and pediatricians use digital platforms to engage with their audience and aid on topics such as breastfeeding, work life balance amongst others.
It cannot be denied that watching a Shilpa Shetty wade through her pregnancy stages whilst offering you diet, exercise and postpartum wisdom is helpful. Celebrities might paint a fancy picture, but it definitely helps to learn from their experiences.
Remember, parenthood is a tumultuous journey, with its share of highs and lows. Social media, while it plays a small role, makes you realize that you are not alone in this journey. While social media cannot replace the role played by medical professionals like doctors and lactation consults, it is a support system for millennial parents. Whenever there is an iota of doubt, all you must do is post a question and answers will start pouring in.
(Dr Anita Sharma, IBCLC, Certfied Lactation Consultant, FORTIS La Femme and Member of Medela India LC Club)