Shortly after I became a mom, my Google search history filled up with endless queries about swaddles, sleep products, feeding schedules, bedtime routines, correct latching, poop (so many poop questions) — I could go on and on.
In some ways, having the internet as a resource is a blessing, but in a lot of other ways, it’s a curse. When my husband and I came home from the hospital after Izzy was born, we had a limited understanding of what we needed to do as new parents. I probably had fifteen minutes total of breastfeeding “lessons” (if you could even call it that), and even though we asked the nurses to show us how to swaddle a dozen or so times, we couldn’t get it right on our first night at home.
For every time I had a question, I turned to my phone or my laptop instead of calling my pediatrician (or asking one of our parents). And I found myself using the internet a lot to try to understand the biggest mystery of all: sleep.
While some of my research led to concrete solutions that worked for us (the DockATot, for example, quickly became one of my favorite products of all time after reading all the rave reviews online), other parts of my internet searches resulted in a lot of frustration. For every piece of advice that’s out there (on any subject), there’s another suggestion that’s completely contradictory. As an example, some moms swear by the Eat-Play-Sleep cycle, while others insist that it’s best to have your baby eat right before they sleep. Some websites encourage parents to put their babies down “awake but drowsy;” others suggest that holding them through naps encourages bonding (but what about mommy free time though).
Things are only more complicated when you start googling symptoms, trying to self-diagnose a problem at home. Much like the dreaded WebMD, internet searches for any infant-related malady will undoubtedly end up with some scary results and will leave you convinced that your baby is dying. There have been so many times when I’ve just given up on searching and ended up calling my pediatrician because I’d worked myself into a panic.
Part of the issue is that infants are unable to talk and communicate, so you’re left using your “instincts” and a whole lot of guessing. Combine that with the fact that babies are constantly changing, so you’re trying to navigate a moving target. Personally, I always felt like once I became comfortable with one thing, a whole other challenge awaited me at the next turn.
I still find myself googling when I don’t know the answer to something, even though I should know better. (Just this morning, I was doing it, in fact.) It’s tempting, when thousands of “answers” lie right at your fingertips, to try and just get to the bottom of something with a few clicks of your phone. The learning curve of parenthood is a huge one, and the internet sometimes provides a sense of security — however false it may be. Hopefully one day I’ll get to a place where my knowledge is widespread enough that I won’t have to rely on the “great and powerful Google” for solutions. Here’s hoping that “that place” is right around the corner.
In the comments, tell me: Do you use Google a lot instead of calling your pediatrician or asking a friend? Has it helped you?
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One thought on “The Internet: A New Mom’s Best Friend and Worst Enemy”
I’m definitely guilty of using the internet as a primary resource for many of my baby questions as a FTM. However, I also joined a reddit group of mothers who were expecting in the same month as me. The group turned into a Facebook group as well, which is still very much active, even though our babies are 7+ months old. We are still asking each other questions about our babies and just living life together. That has been the best resource I’ve found, and I strongly encourage other new mothers and expecting mothers to seek out the same type of online community.
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