How Google Made My Postpartum Anxiety Worse

Written by: Janel Duffy
Posted: June 07, 2020
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was the first of my siblings, and really the first of all of my close friends too. I was so excited to be pregnant. My partner and I talked endlessly about what we thought she’d look like, how she’d talk, how small her fingernails were going to be. I also live very far from any immediate family, like, a thousand miles away- far. My partner is one of many boys, so I didn’t really have anybody super close to me who I felt comfortable asking questions to and sharing things with. So, like anybody else in 2019, I downloaded at least three pregnancy apps to track the growth of my baby, and with each of these apps, came a weekly email with different statistics about development, what I may or may not be craving, and what to expect for the upcoming week. Each email had citations and links to different pages with more detailed information. I was lucky enough to have a very smooth and uneventful pregnancy. I had no morning sickness, I was able to stay active right until the end of pregnancy, and I felt pretty mellow and level headed throughout those 40 weeks. I enjoyed reading the emails, taking away the information that applied and sort of letting whatever else roll off my back (or belly). 

 Once my daughter was born, I proudly changed my apps, informing them that we’d now be in “baby” mode rather than pregnancy mode. The emails switched accordingly. However this was about the time I started to develop some postpartum anxiety tendencies. My daughter and I had a really rough start to breastfeeding. I had no idea whether or not she was latching correctly, all I knew is that my nipples were raw and my baby wasn’t pooping. The emails from these apps kept coming in. Desperate for answers of any sort, I went down the “click this link” wormhole, and on a website for newborns, this is almost as bad as searching symptoms on Web MD. At one point I didn’t know if my baby was having kidney failure, was having a negative reaction to my blood type, or something else unfathomable. I remember trying to get my baby to nurse at 2am, both of us crying, and me scrolling through these different sites feeling more and more horrified with every click. But I just couldn’t stop. For some reason I trusted whatever these apps and emails were saying to me about me and my baby. Sure, all of these emails, apps, and websites were backed by scientific information, but none of them were in my living room with me and my baby, seeing the whole picture.

I ended up meeting with a wonderful Lactation Consultant, soon after my baby was born, and we got on track to latching and nursing properly. But I would still check these emails for the “Tips To Increase Milk Supply” or  “Foods You Should Never Eat If You Want Good Breastmilk”, and I would find myself obsessing over these checklists, the do’s and don'ts. At one point I had fifteen tabs open on my computer, all revolving around breastmilk supply, nursing, newborn sleep, and baby poop. Although I think it’s very normal for a new mom to have an abundance of questions, the way I was going about it could have been better. What I needed was ONE person to talk to, someone who knew me, and who knew my baby— not twelve different websites, scientific or not. After meeting again with my Lactation Consultant, and her promising to answer any questions I had about nursing, poop, and newborns, I deleted my apps and unsubscribed from the email lists. Not because their information was bad, but because I couldn’t stop myself from traveling down the “worst case scenario” pipeline.

 Now I am almost a year postpartum, and there are still questions that come up, but I feel much more confident that when I seek out information, that I can take it all with a grain of salt. I can see whether or not the recommendations align with me, my baby, our lifestyle, etc. I’m by no means suggesting that the information I was bombarded with was false, but I am nudging new moms (and reminding myself) to trust our intuition, to find one or two trusted people or books for reference, and to promise to stay off of google and WebMD in the first months of postpartum.
Category: Postpartum,
Tagged With: first time mom, new mom, breastfeeding, postpartum support, healthy baby, new mom questions,