A new study was released this week that found that new moms spend more time on Facebook. 154 new moms and 150 new dads were interviewed about their habits regarding social media both before and after the birth of their children. The research showed that new moms who were on Facebook more often felt higher levels of stress related to parenting, but felt satisfied with their parenting ability when their social network was made up of family and close friends. New dads, however, said their adjustment into parenting was better when their social network was made up of people they knew in real life.
New moms, especially, seem to feel better about themselves and their parenting abilities when friends and family commented on pictures of the new baby or status updates about the baby. Some might attribute this rise in social networking activity to time off due to a maternity leave or a maternal instinct to share pictures of a new baby with family and friends. However, the study suggests that new moms are using social networking sites to help themselves feel like they are good moms.
In a culture where we ask women whether or not they are “mom enough,” it is no surprise that women turn to people who know and love them for reassurance that they are doing it right. Moms already feel guilty about too many things to name, and when the media makes them feel like they’re not doing enough as a parent, like we saw with the recent TIME Magazine cover, it’s no wonder they need a support system. Activity on social media, like Facebook, is a good way to get that support, too, because it allows moms to connect with family, friends and other new moms without having to pack up the baby and leave the house.
We also live in a society where the current political rhetoric about motherhood is that being a mom is the most important job in the world. With such importance placed on motherhood, it is no wonder that new moms feel a little bit daunted with the task. Pair all of this with the stress of 3:00 AM feedings, little sleep, stress of an unpaid maternity leave, and the all-important decisions that will come about work-life balance and whether or not to go back to work at all and you can see why new moms’ stress levels are skyrocketing, and why they might turn to their networks for reassurance.
Of course, ideally, our society would find a way to make the transition into motherhood less stressful. This would include affordable childcare, paid maternity leaves and putting a cap on the media fueling the mommy war fire, among many other things. However, I don’t see that happening any time soon, unfortunately. In the meantime, the best thing we can do is support each other. We can offer the new moms in our lives some comfort. When you see a new mom reaching out for support, or struggling with the stress of a new baby, let her know that she’s doing a good job.
Photo Credit: jeanine&preston