As one hand puts down the positive pregnancy test, the other picks up the smartphone. Of course, excited calls and texts to family and friends may initially certainly follow, but over the next nine months you, unfortunately, might end up spending more time online than you do eating and sleeping. And really, wouldn’t it be ideal if you could spend the majority of your pregnancy eating and sleeping? Here are 5 reasons why, during your pregnancy, you should put down that smartphone.
1 | It’s information overload
What does knowing your 16-week baby is the size of an avocado really do, besides make you eye your fruit bowl suspiciously? As any person who has ever dipped into the online vortex that is the search results for everything and anything related to pregnancy and motherhood knows, from websites to apps to blogs, there is a lot out there (to put it mildly). Sure, when we are faced with any new situation in life, especially one as significant as growing a human, our natural instinct has become to google the heck out of it. Doing so can offer useful assurances, helpful tips, and an online community to connect with. But it can also quickly become information overload. Turning to internet searches during pregnancy can become both an obsession and addiction – neither of which are ultimately beneficial. The sheer scope of information and barrage of advice can easily leave your pregnant self mentally exhausted, on top of the physical exhaustion you’re already experiencing.
2 | It leads to too much comparison shopping
Let’s be honest. Much of that time and energy spent online is centered around trying to figure out what products to purchase for the highly anticipated bundle of joy. At first, it’s fun. Every search starts with “Best ...” because who doesn’t want the best for their baby?! Quickly, it turns out, the searches that ensue are a maze of comparison charts that get into the most minute details of every product (did you know the Ergo baby carrier weighs 1.6 Lbs while the Tula baby carrier only weighs 1.5 Lbs?!).
While it’s prudent to comparison shop, due to the exhaustive online comparisons of each product you’re left feeling like a real idiot unless you buy the coveted #1 recommended choice.
This is a trap for two reasons: 1) You'll probably end up spending more than you need to. It’s no doubt that higher end products cost more (sometimes insanely more), but the #1 recommended products may lull you into a false sense of security. After baby arrives, you might find yourself sputtering, “But, this is the #1 product! Baby is supposed to love it/sleep in it/play with it!” only to find baby completely refusing it.
Which brings us to the next trap, which you realize only after the birth is: 2) Baby doesn’t care! Baby does not care how much money you spent on something or how many glowing reviews it got online. Babies have their own preferences that we often cannot control or understand (and that’s okay!). So everything you buy should be bought with the complete recognition and acceptance that it may end up being unused.
3 | It makes you choose sides in the “mommy wars” before you know what you’re talking about
A seemingly innocent foray into the online world of mommy blogs, forums, and accompanying comment sections quickly reveals that present-day motherhood is a minefield of hot-button debates. Breastmilk or formula? Co-sleeping versus crib? Stay home versus return to work? Disposable diapers versus cloth diapers? You can type into a Google search virtually any topic related to motherhood, followed by “versus,” and you will get a never ending list of sites, articles, and the like, proclaiming the superiority of one “side” over the other. The “mommy wars” sometimes come from a place of trying to help other moms and, alternately, sometimes come from a place of wanting to judge other moms, but they are all passionate and convincing in their rhetoric. This leads to pregnant women often feeling compelled to “sign up” with one camp and stay on that “side.” The list of strong-willed, “When baby comes, I’m only going to…” proclamations during pregnancy become firmly planted in the ground e.g. “I’m only going to breastfeed/pump/keep baby in their crib/co-sleep/stay home/return to work” and the list goes on.
The problem is that once the baby arrives, every plan is thrown into the wringer and if a mother has to switch “camps” she may end up having to cope with feelings of disillusionment, especially if she already bought in so heavily to one side as a result of many hours of online reading.
It’s smart and useful to be informed about what your preferences are once baby arrives, but getting caught up in the “mommy wars” during pregnancy can end up being more harmful than helpful. It’s more useful to delve into one “camp” (if you must) after your baby arrives and a plan has actually materialized. Then the information from that side can actually be of real help to you. Overall, it’s better to let decisions and plans organically evolve, taking into account what is best for you and baby at each step of the way.
4 | It makes you buy into other moms’ personal narratives over creating your own
Here’s the thing: pregnancy and motherhood is a life-changing experience and the internet has given moms a platform to share their narratives like never before. These narratives are often powerful, convincing, and should absolutely be shared widely. However, like the above point about getting sucked into the “mommy wars,” it’s easy to get sucked into other moms’ narratives when you start reading them obsessively. Take, for instance, birth narratives. The danger is you might build up an expectation that your own birth story will play out like the ones you read online and become distraught if it does not. Becoming too obsessed with reading birth narratives can also influence you in making choices about your own birthing plans without stepping back and thinking about your own comfort levels, the input of your partner, and advice of your medical practitioner. The truth about birth is that it is impossible to know exactly how it will go before it happens, so staying open and flexible is a crucial mindset to have throughout the process – something that is more difficult to do if you’ve read a plethora of birth narratives online.
5 | It creates distance between you and your partner
We all know about the ways in which smartphone dependency can cause breakdowns in actual communication between couples. During a pregnancy, while there may be the occasional sharing of articles, links to products, or the random shoving of the smartphone under your partner’s nose, “Look at this illustration of how squished the organs get in the third trimester!” for the most part, too much time spent searching on your smartphone shuts out your partner.
This is harmful for two reasons:
1| Bringing a child into this world means having important, face to face conversations with your partner, spanning the spectrum of logistical topics, such as the all-important, “Who is going to cover night feedings?!” to the more philosophical, “How much of a role will religion/spirituality influence our parenting?” The months following the birth are ripe for marital tension, seeing as you are dealing with a notoriously unpredictable and exhausting little creature who is wholly dependent on you, leaving both parties inevitably stressed out, spent, and severely sleep deprived. If important discussions are had before the baby arrives, you will find that you’re in a better position to cope with the challenging situations that arise in the months following the birth when the pre-baby relationship dynamics are sent into a tailspin. 2| Enjoy the time you and your partner have when it’s just the two of you – minus the smartphone! Go beyond enjoying it – relish it, savor it, soak it up, whether you’re out for dinner, out for a walk, or before turning the lights out. In spite of the cuteness that is about to enter your lives, you will miss the time when you were able to get through a conversation/dinner/car ride etc. without being interrupted by the any number of demands a baby makes on a continual basis. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your pregnancy and the momentous change that is about to take place in your life, try taking a digital break. After all, there will be plenty of time to be online once the baby arrives and you’re on the tenth feeding of the day.