Even for the most prepared couples, adding a baby to the family can be trying, to say the least. But fear not, mommas-to-be; recent studies show mommy blogging can help make the adjustment to baby a little easier.
After conducting an online survey with 157 first time mothers, BYU grad Brandon McDaniel and two BYU faculty members concluded mothers who blog are benefiting from the sense of community their blogs provide.
“At times when you have a new infant, and it’s your first, you can feel very alone,” McDaniel said. “All of the sudden you have to stay home and be the primary caregiver, and that limits your access to other people. Sometimes new moms are able to get that through blogging.”
Based on his research, McDaniel said mothers who blog feel especially connected to their family and friends. Being able to post about their lives and their new families gives them a sense of social support, knowing their stories are being read. By feeling understood, new mommy bloggers are more likely to experience low levels of parenting stress and better adjust to their new bundles of joy.
“I think blogging helps with stress in two different ways,”said Jenna Garlock Duty, a first time mommy blogger from Mission Viejo, Calif. “Just documenting different things in your life can be very therapeutic. It gives mom a little ‘me time’ to do something you love. Also, in reading other mommy blogs, you can see that there are other people going through the same struggles you go through as a mom, the good and the bad.”
Duty has used blogging as a resource to help her parent her new baby.
“It definitely offers a sense of support,” Duty said. “In comments they leave, in emails you receive, and posts that you read from those that you yourself follow. It’s amazing. You can have a problem, blog about it and you will get email and comments from others offering their support and advice.”
That feeling of community Duty mentioned is exactly what McDaniel believes is most beneficial.
“I think a lot of times mothers are benefiting from the sense of community,” he said. “Feeling like their family and friends are checking their blogs, reading a friends blog, seeing that your friends are going through the same things you are.”
However, mommy blogging can also produce the opposite effect.
Despite the said benefits, it’s no secret that women, especially in the LDS Church, often struggle with comparison and competition. Do mommy blogs fuel the fire?
Elyse Powell Brantingham, another blogger from Coto de Caza, Calif., has struggled with her first baby boy who refuses to nap. While dealing with her own transition into motherhood and a needy baby, reading other mommy blogs only added to her stress.
“Your first child is certainly the hardest,” she said. “You have no idea what to expect, what you like, what you don’t like, or even what kind of parent you are. It was so extremely hard and I was tired all the time, but I think the main problem was that I felt like I should be doing more because these bloggers were clearly ‘wonder women’ and I wasn’t.”
McDaniel acknowledged these feelings of inadequacy.
“I’m not saying those feelings don’t happen, but when blogging is done with the purpose to share information and stay in touch with family and friends, there’s a different outcome than reading blogs and comparing yourself,” he said.
Although blogging has been shown to be helpful to new mothers, Brantingham said no two babies are the same, and no two women share the same story.
“Kids are hard, having a baby changes your life completely, and there is never going to be someone out there who has the exact same baby as you or who is experiencing the same things as you,” Brantingham said. “The only time it really offers a sense of support would be when you suddenly find someone who is going through something similar to you. I do have to add, however, that that is extremely rare for me.”