PARENTS

Does Facebook Make New Mums Feel Vulnerable?

28/01/2014 14:17 | Updated 22 May 2015

Is Facebook making new mums feel vulnerable and not good enough?Alamy

Love it or hate it, Facebook has become an integral part of our lives, sharing every bit of news with just a click of a button.

Recently a new report was released by the Ohio State of University which claimed that new mums use Facebook more than ever after the birth of their baby, with 93 of those new mums getting their Facebook fix every day.

I probably would have been labelled a Facebook addict, too. With a fun job on a women's magazine as a beauty journalist, I not only had to use Facebook for work, but I could always be found on my iPhone updating my friends with news of the latest launch I attended, or pictures of fun nights out which no doubt involved cocktails and wine.

But all of that changed in May 2011 when I became a mum for the very first time. Like every new parent, I excitedly announced the birth of my little girl on Facebook just hours after she'd been born, posting pictures of myself and my partner proudly cradling our new bundle of joy for everyone to see.

As the first few weeks of being a mummy turned into months, my daily fixation with Facebook continued, as did my status updates with news of my baby's first swimming lesson, photos of family trips to the zoo and of course the occasional moan about how tired I felt. Despite the challenges of being a new parent, I'd decided to throw myself into my new role of being a mum, and it was clear I was enjoying every minute of it.

But as the clock started to tick on my maternity leave, I felt the baby bubble slowly starting to burst. While I'd been happy to immerse myself in the world of music classes and baby groups, by the time my baby was eight months old I knew I needed more. I missed my old life and, with the dawning realisation that it was going to be difficult to return to my job, I began to feel worse.

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Suddenly the lifeline which Facebook had once been, started to cast a shadow over my life.

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My updates sounding dull in comparison to my fun-loving friends who didn't have to worry about controlled crying and a baby who hated to sleep.

It might sound drastic, but after realising one morning that Facebook was getting me down, I decided to log off.

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In a matter of seconds I'd disabled my account and straight away it felt like a relief.

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Over the coming weeks I had the odd text, call or email from people checking I was OK and worried that I'd deleted them from my friends' list.

They all seemed baffled about my Facebook 'sabbatical', but the truth is I was relishing not having an online presence and having to post something exciting or witty every day.

Reassuringly, after speaking to family psychologist Dr Rachel Johnson, it would seem that I'm not alone and Facebook can often be a melting point for many new mums, especially when they feel like they don't fit in anymore.

"Facebook really polarises everything and to read 150 updates about the best parts of people's day, and then compare it to your own, can be quite difficult," she says.

"Being a mum is a huge job, your identity has changed and it's important to not discount the reality of your day. The whole point of Facebook is about sharing your life and you shouldn't be ashamed that it now revolves around a new little person," says Rachel.

So what should you do when things start to feel mundane and you need to escape without going online?

"You need time for yourself if you want to be a happy parent. Do the things you always did before, whether that's going shoe shopping or grabbing a coffee at Starbucks. Don't lose your individuality, you're still the same person and your friends want to see you even if you have to be home by 3pm for your baby's afternoon nap. Meeting other new mums will also give you emotional support and once you have the right balance you'll find it easier to reconnect with your old life again," explains Rachel.

As for me, you'll be pleased to hear that my fingertips are nearly hovering over Facebook again. I've yet to log back into my account, but after celebrating my little girl's first birthday I'm ready to show off the photos of her tottering around the garden on her new trike from Grandma and smiling into the camera with a big grin.

And surely Boastbook, sorry Facebook, is the perfect place to show the world just how adorable she is? Well, I think so anyway.

More on Parentdish:

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