Something’s definitely in the water here in King of Prussia, PA! This spring we are fortunate to have our own focus group of expecting moms on staff, so we thought we’d learn firsthand about the latest trends regarding motherhood, pregnancy, and social media.
As you’ll see, there were some strong and sometimes surprising reactions on what is “share-worthy” vs “cringe-inducing.” Also interesting to discover was how powerfully the broader social network of friends and family affects the timing and content of what is shared. Do you call your friends first, or just post to everyone on Facebook? Should you share the good news at all when some of your friends are having trouble conceiving? And what to do if you have socially savvy parents or in-laws? OMG!
So here are four very different perspectives on using social media to deliver (pun intended) updates during one of the most social and exhilarating thrill rides of life – pregnancy.
Sara: Reluctantly Social
When it comes to social media, I am an observer, voyeur, and even, perhaps, a borderline stalker. For fear of judgment, I do not share a lot of personal information online; however, I love keeping tabs on everyone else. I often comment, “like,” or even change my profile picture… but rarely share a “status” update.
With my first child, I wanted to personally tell all of my closest friends whether it was a phone call or over dinner before making a big Facebook announcement. Finally, my girlfriend took a great picture: It was very cute and obvious I was 6 months pregnant, so I decided to share with the cyberverse. During Facebook’s 10-year look back, it was my most “liked” photo. Once I had Nevin, I posted a bunch of photos of him and still do every week or so. Everything he does seems adorable, so why wouldn’t I share? It’s not about me…it’s about him. I have family and friends spread out and rather then send an email, it makes life easier as well.
As far as my second pregnancy, I still have not posted the news. I am almost 20 weeks, and the jury’s out whether I will or not. I created a cute photo that we mailed to my in-laws to tell them the happy news. I thought for sure I would make it my Facebook cover photo; however, part of me just wants to post a picture of Nev holding the new, little guy when he arrives. The next big deal will be watching the two brothers interact 🙂 No doubt there will be some pictures on Facebook!
Kathryn: The Value of Keeping It Old School
Last year one of my best friends announced on Facebook that she was expecting her first child. When a photo of her holding the cutest baby-sized football jersey popped up in my newsfeed, I only wished she could have heard my squeal of excitement and that we were together to jump up and down with joy. I completely understood her desire to publicly spread her happiness and in such a unique way. So why did I feel a twinge of disenchantment receiving such special news as a member of the social media masses?
One trendy way for parents-to-be to share that they’re pumped about that baby bump is to post a photo or video of a positive pregnancy test on Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. Although we had hopped aboard the social media train long before our “bun” was even a sparkle in our eyes, from our budding courtship, through engagement and wedded bliss, my husband and I agreed that this type of momentous occasion is deserving of a little old-school, dare we say, old-fashioned, etiquette. When we discovered we too had a baby on the way, we were absolutely giddy and wanted to shout from the mountaintops with joy but we both knew that we wanted our closest family members and friends hear the news directly from our lips. No social media. We were delighted to wrap up a framed ultrasound picture of our little “peanut” to announce to our parents that could finally expect a grandbaby. My mom was so ecstatic that she herself was about to hop on all her social sound boards and spread the word, but she respected our desire to share the news with our most important people in our own way.
Even when opting for a semi-private pregnancy experience, however, it can be challenging to control the baby paparazzi in these super-connected social media times. In our case, when an otherwise harmless photo of my husband and me leaked online showing my somewhat plumper-than-normal, first-trimester belly, a handful of friends who received a personal call about my news, having seen this infamous photo, already suspected my growing baby: “I saw that photo and knew you were pregnant!” Regardless of how you share your pregnancy news, it will be an unforgettable experience. I must say however, that there is just no comparing even a million virtual “Likes” or “thumbs up” to our personal surprise announcements and seeing our loved ones’ expressions, feeling their hugs, and hearing their words of congratulations live and face to face.
Lauren: Social Sensitivity Is Key
When it comes to social media, I am shamelessly addicted. I’ve always felt the need to scream it from the rooftops when things were going well—promotions at work, my engagement to my husband, and, of course, the trendy photo shoot from my wedding! And I never thought twice about doing the same thing once I got pregnant. What an exciting time that would be—I would have to post every moment of it! But then, reality stepped in, and several family members and girlfriends of mine who were trying to get pregnant started having serious issues conceiving. Some started having miscarriages, some failed to conceive after a year of trying, and some even discovered they were sterile. Based on their experiences, my husband and I quickly became concerned about what the future had in store for us when it came to starting a family.
Eventually, we got over our fears and, to our surprise, conceived quickly. We were over-the-moon thrilled! I immediately thought about how I would tell our families and announce our news on Facebook, but then we received very sad news that a close family member, who didn’t even know we were pregnant yet, lost their baby in utero after years of trying to conceive. The worst part? We were due only a week apart from each other. Our hearts broke for them and put a dark cloud over our exciting news that we so desperately wanted to share. How could we spread our joyful news when we knew they were suffering? Given the circumstances, my husband and I decided against a big Facebook announcement. After all, just because we got pregnant easily didn’t mean that everything was going to be rainbows and sunshine. There were no guarantees that we would have a perfectly healthy pregnancy, and it felt better to just keep the news to close friends and family.
Now, with less than 2 weeks left until my due date, I can honestly say I have no regrets about the decision to keep my pregnancy off social media. Sure, I would be a bit jealous when a new mom would announce her pregnancy and get 100+ likes, but I got over it fast. I’ve learned that pregnancy is sacred, very personal, and doesn’t happen for everyone. I’m sure that once our little girl has arrived, we will post pictures of her for the world to see. Until then, however, she’ll remain our little secret and our news to share when we feel the time is right for both our families and us.
Sarah: A Social Celebration
When it comes to social media, I am very reserved. I don’t have my birthday listed on Facebook or my occupation. I rarely post status updates, and when I do, it’s usually sarcasm or silliness, never anything personal. My “friends” list is harder to get on than most Hollywood club guest lists (OK, maybe not, but I’m very selective). My decision to post our pregnancy to Facebook came as a surprise even to myself. Our journey to conceive was complicated due to my husband having had cancer when he was very young, and as a result of his treatment, our chances of conceiving at all were very slim. After several months of celebrating many of our good friends getting pregnant, it was finally our moment to celebrate! We had reached out to close family and friends to let them know personally, but we have extended friends and family on Facebook that the post served to alert. The post, for us, was a fist-pump moment and celebration of having beaten the odds stacked against us.
Since I am an only child, my mother was bursting at the seams to announce to her own friends via Facebook that she was finally going to be a grandmother. My mother-in-law was eager to share because after 3 grandsons, she was finally getting a granddaughter. I felt almost selfish keeping them from sharing their own excitement simply because it was not my own preference. After all, they showered us with love and support during our challenges! So at 15 weeks, I finally gave the “go-ahead” with a Facebook post of my own. I found myself still being quite reserved, not announcing her name or showing a picture of her ultrasound, but people got the message anyway. After 150 “likes” and counting, I’m still very happy with my decision to share.
We hope you enjoyed these stories! What is really remarkable is that despite using similar tools and technologies, each story is so very unique! Which of our moms did you relate to most?
P.S. We’d like to hear from dads, too. If nothing else, you’re probably taking most of the pictures!