Social Media Changing What Motherhood Looks Like- the 411

Source: Parent Magazine

Five years ago I remember scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed full of artsy, overly filtered posts. Even the non-celebrities I followed looked so #blessed with their designer clothes, perfectly uniform families, lux vacations, and toned bikini bods. It was rare to see a caption longer than a sentence, and that sentence was typically a well-played pun. I saw children smiling on Santa’s lap, perfectly coiffed mamas at theme parks with three kids, and delivery room photos that made labor look like a breeze—

Five years ago I remember scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed full of artsy, overly filtered posts. Even the non-celebrities I followed looked so #blessed with their designer clothes, perfectly uniform families, lux vacations, and toned bikini bods. It was rare to see a caption longer than a sentence, and that sentence was typically a well-played pun. I saw children smiling on Santa’s lap, perfectly coiffed mamas at theme parks with three kids, and delivery room photos that made labor look like a breeze—in retrospect, it all seemed a bit unnatural and dare I say staged. And then something changed—parents started breaking the mold.

And then something changed—parents started breaking the mold.
Fast forward to today and I’m sitting on my couch nursing my four-month-old daughter while rocking heavy bags under my eyes and hair that hasn’t been washed in, oh, maybe a week. As I scroll through my Instagram, the posts are looking a whole lot like I do—real and unfiltered. I see a new mom of twins sharing her 2-week postpartum belly in all its glory, a second-time mom sharing an unfiltered image of her simultaneously breastfeeding her 3-year-old and 3-month-old, and raw footage of a water birth showing a mother hand-delivering her own child.
Even celebrity moms are sharing more honest moments. Chrissy Teigen posted photos of her son miles wearing a head-shaping helmet that treats flat head syndrome, a condition that affects up to 50 percent of babies, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Amy Schumer shared a pic of her half-asleep pumping in bed the morning after doing standup.


It’s especially during sleep-deprived and wildly frazzled moments like these that I’m eternally grateful for the fact that Instagram as well as social media as a whole, has shifted its view towards those real, hard-hitting moments of parenting. Those filters are being pulled back to reveal what life is really like for a new mom—and the stories of influencers and celebrities alike are transcending toward a narrative that feels familiar. In fact, the goal of the modern-day influencer now seems to be an effort to make new moms feel less alone in their struggles.
“Instagram, more so than the other social media sites, has transformed into a platform where moms feel comfortable sharing their ups and downs,” “Instagram, more so than the other social media sites, has transformed into a platform where moms feel comfortable sharing their ups and downs,” Ilyse DiMarco, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of No Drama Mama, says. “As more and more ‘mom voices’ are being added to the community every day, they’re painting a wider variety of pictures about what everyday ‘mom life’ really looks like.”, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of No Drama Mama, says.

We’re tired of that pretend world

The old view of social media putting insane pressure on moms to be “perfect” certainly still exists, but a revolution against it—one of honest mothering—has also risen. More and more women and moms especially are growing tired of pretending that life is all sunshine and roses. This very notion is what inspired Brenda Stearns, a mom of five who runs the Instagram account @she_plusfive, to start posting real-as-it-gets images of her day-to-day life. “People need to understand that we don’t have it all together—our kids cry, the house is a mess sometimes, we are all human, we feel sadness, and anger, and disappointment,” she says. “We can establish a healthy relationship with social media and realize that there’s so much life happening behind the screen.” On her feed, she shares posts and stories showing what it’s like to be a mother of five and the reality of the chaos that it can bring. She also shares several images of her postpartum body—stretch marks and all. “Abs and flat tummies are great! …but have you ever considered that your body literally rearranged its organs to bring another life into the world?? So yeah! Your stretched out, scarred, jiggly tummy is pretty impressive too!” she quipped on one recent post.


Last Valentine’s Day, New York mom Megan Harper was one month postpartum with her third child in five years and was jealous of watching everyone’s romantic Instagram posts all day. “I was home covered in breast milk and wrangling two kids inside a small apartment all day because it was freezing out,” she says. “Instead of telling everyone how much I loved my husband, I decided to share a picture of what was really going down in my home—me eating Pho takeout and drinking canned wine while nursing my one-month-old sitting next to my 2-year-old who was passed out on the couch.” She received more positive feedback than she could have anticipated—mostly from other moms thanking her for keeping it real.
“From a psychological standpoint, social media has moved from being a platform in which to prove something to one in which you express something,” says“From a psychological standpoint, social media has moved from being a platform in which to prove something to one in which you express something,” says Laura F. Dabney, M.D., a relationship psychiatrist. “You either had to prove you had the best product, the best ideas, the best relationships, or the best life, but now with the popularity of short live clips on platforms like Instagram, expressing yourself in real-time has become not only easier but more popular or trendy.” This shift is helping social media become more of a place to turn to for support than ever before., M.D., a relationship psychiatrist. “You either had to prove you had the best product, the best ideas, the best relationships, or the best life, but now with the popularity of short live clips on platforms like Instagram, expressing yourself in real-time has become not only easier but more popular or trendy.” This shift is helping social media become more of a place to turn to for support than ever before.

“From a psychological standpoint, social media has moved from being a platform in which to prove something to one in which you express something,” says Laura F. Dabney, M.D., a relationship psychiatrist. “You either had to prove you had the best product, the best ideas, the best relationships, or the best life, but now with the popularity of short live clips on platforms like Instagram, expressing yourself in real-time has become not only easier but more popular or trendy.” This shift is helping social media become more of a place to turn to for support than ever before.
Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., a New York-based neuropsychologist and faculty member at Columbia University, attributes this shift towards unveiling those real and difficult moments of parenting to the rise of body positivity. “The body positive movement opened up this discussion about not just feeling shame about our bodies, but a lot of other things the media can make us feel guilty about—like being a new mom!” she says. “Celebrating our bodies soon melded into celebrating our mommy bodies, our ups and downs, and accepting our flaws.” This, she explains, is where this trend really began to shift, and people began to question the negative impacts social media has on our mental health. “Social media can be extremely intrusive, but it’s the growing acceptance of ‘no filter’ that allows new moms to feel comfortable in this space.”

A new network of motivation, camaraderie, and support

Facebook and Twitter have become a go-to source of support for new moms, particularly for those living in more rural areas where an in-person support group is few and far between. “A simple search on Facebook will help you find pages and groups dedicated to providing news, tips, and support to moms by region, ideology, and even age,” says Dr. Hafeez. “On Instagram, you will find moms sharing their experiences on the comments of tip-driven, motivational post geared to inspiring parents to take time to care for themselves, or stop and smell the roses from time to time.”

Layla Lisiewski and Megan Sullivan co-founded The Local Moms Network in an effort to deliver local resources and community connections to moms in suburbs across the country. “We know that being a mom is hard work, but felt strongly that finding resources in your town shouldn’t be,” Lisiewski says. Within a few months of launching in 2017, women from other suburbs were reaching out and wondering how they can bring this amazing platform to their community. There’s now a Local Moms Network in over 90 suburbs across the country. “As moms, we would be doing our communities a disservice if we weren’t raw and real on social media and including the everyday struggles that come with having children—eating, sleeping, organizing schedules, finding the right resources, all the while making sure we take care of ourselves and our house and our job and our mental and physical well being,” Lisiewski adds. “There’s something comforting knowing that we’re all in this parenthood thing together.”

How to use social media as a parenting support system

Don’t get me wrong, I still follow quite a few perfect-appearing social media moms—they certainly still exist, particularly on Instagram. Sometimes their posts make me feel jealous, anxious, guilty (or all of the above—particularly at 3 a.m. when I’m awake with my baby, again). “There are always going to be those super-toned moms who post pictures of themselves and their gorgeous, seemingly well-behaved children,” says Dr. DiMarco. “They’re usually displaying the killer healthy salad they made or reminding you about how important self-care is, especially for successful entrepreneurs like themselves—and by the way, their 4-year-old is doing well with her Mandarin lessons, thank you very much for asking.”

When a new mom sees a social media post that’s inspiring mom guilt, shame, anxiety, or anger, Dr. DiMarco suggests that they consider the messenger. “Is this a person with whom you have a lot in common? If you don’t respect the messenger, it doesn’t make sense to aspire to be like them, or follow their lead in any way.”

She also suggests asking yourself how much you really know about the person to whom you’re comparing yourself. “Oftentimes, you simply don’t have enough information to make a fair comparison,” she says. “If you’re comparing your life, about which you are an expert, to the life of a friend you haven’t seen face-to-face for many years, you’re simply not making a reasonable comparison.” In other words, you don’t have enough information about this friend to evaluate how her life truly compares with yours.

Live in the now

Before you know it, your colicky, fussy-feeding newborn will be taking her first steps on the grass in your backyard. “Life tends to pass you by when you’re living behind a phone screen, even if it’s to take videos of your baby, so take a moment to breathe it all in and appreciate the little moments rather than going straight to social media,” advises Dr. Hafeez.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

Too often, the advice we receive as parents is of the unsolicited variety and it’s often laced with anxiety and self-doubt. But, as new parents, it’s essential that we feel encouraged, uplifted, and inspired in positive ways to make the best decisions when it comes to raising our children. “You’re going to learn something new every day, but you don’t have to figure everything out on your own,” says Dr. Hafeez. For this reason, she encourages new moms to reach out to other moms on social media for advice—other new moms who might be going through the very same fussy stages or potty-training tribulations.

Remember that you’re a role model, too

“Being a real new mom, (#notsponsored) is being who you are and sharing the good, the bad, the successes, and failures,” Sullivan says. “It’s hard to put yourself out there day in and day out, but it’s important to relate to your audience. We are not perfect and we don’t intend for our Instagrams to look perfect either. We want to be your perfectly imperfect village.”

Baby Led Weaning – The 411

Image result for baby led weaning

What is baby led weaning (BLW)? (From Mamanatural)

First coined by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods, Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid food where baby is allowed and encouraged to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. For those of us in the US, baby led feeding may be a better term as BLW is not about weaning babies off breastmilk or formula, but is weaning them onto solids. (Although, anytime we introduce food, we are in a sense starting the weaning process, as baby will naturally start to decline her breast milk consumption. But with BLW, the baby is in charge.) BLW babies:

  • Are encouraged to join the family at mealtime and self-feed appropriate finger foods.
  • Choose what, how much, and how quickly to eat.
  • Are given the freedom to explore new tastes and textures without the pressure to eat a set amount or a specific food.
  • Continue to nurse (or receive a bottle) just as often. Solids are to compliment milk, and baby is trusted to know when to increase solid feedings and decrease milk (usually later in the first year).

When is baby ready?

Experts agree that solids should be delayed until the middle of the first year of life. This is when baby’s digestive system is mature. Some babies may seem ready at 5 ½ months, while others may not be ready until 8 months of age. It’s important to take into account ALL readiness signs for each individual child. As always, consult your child’s pediatrician if you are unsure or have questions. Signs of readiness include:

  • Baby can sit up well without support.
  • Baby has lost the tongue-thrust reflex (automatically pushing solids out of mouth with tongue).
  • Baby has developed the fine motor skills to self feed. Development of a pincer grasp (baby picks up food between thumb and forefinger, not palm and fingers) typically happens at around 6 months, but sometimes as late at 1 year.
  • Baby is willing to chew, even if he has few or no teeth.
  • Baby shows interest in participating at mealtime, and may try to grab food from your plate and put it in his mouth.

What are the benefits of baby led feeding?

It’s easier

  • Purées are time consuming. It’s much easier to adjust what the adults are eating to suit baby instead of having to get out the blender or potato masher.
  • BLW babies aren’t pressured into eating. They are trusted to know when, what, and how much they need to eat. Therefore, there is less stress and everyone can enjoy mealtime. (No more airplane spoons 🙂 )
  • Babies feed themselves, so you can eat at the same time! Baby led weaning gives moms the chance to relax and eat themselves.

Baby develops good eating habits

  • Baby (continues to) learn self regulation, which may set the child up for a healthier BMI in the future according to this study.
  • Self selection of food has even been shown to increase weight in underweight babies, therefore supporting a healthy weight in most babies.
  • Since BLW babies experience a wide range of healthy foods early on, they may be more likely to continue to enjoy those foods later in life.

It’s educational

  • Babies learn to safely handle food (they learn to chew THEN swallow)
  • Babies learn to manage different textures, tastes, sizes, and shapes of food.
  • Babies get lots of hand eye and fine motor practice by learning to grasp food and move it to their mouth.
  • Babies learn best by observing and copying. Eating meals together (and eating similar foods) gives her many opportunities to learn about food.

How to get started with baby led weaning?

The great thing about baby led weaning is that you really don’t need much to get started. The first thing you need is a safe place for baby to sit. A highchair is a great choice, but a parents lap is just as good (remember, baby should be able to sit up unassisted at this point). The next thing you need is healthy, appropriate finger foods (covered below). A BLW baby is offered a variety of healthy whole finger foods (as well as a small amount of water) to choose from and explore. Follow your baby’s cues. Begin offering solids once a day, and gradually increase as the child shows he wants or needs more. Baby-led weaning families are encouraged to make family mealtime a habit. One reason is that baby learns best by observation and imitation. When everyone eats together and eats the same food, baby feels included, and mealtime is a fun experience rather than a battle. If eating meals together doesn’t work for your family, consider eating a snack while baby has his meal.

What foods can I feed my baby?

Baby’s first foods should be a selection of fresh fruits, soft cooked vegetables, healthy carbohydrates, and fats. Think soft and easy to gum and swallow. When given a variety to choose from, baby will naturally choose the foods that meet her nutritional needs.

Baby led weaning BLW finger foods carrots apple Mama Natural

Baby Led Weaning First Foods

Some great first finger foods for baby are:

  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Soft cooked apples
  • Soft cooked carrots, green beans, zucchini, and beets
  • Very ripe peaches and pears, plums, and melon
  • Pumpkin
  • Green beans with the skins removed
  • Egg yolk
  • Meat or poultry
  • Liver
  • Slices of sprouted bread, cooked pasta, brown rice (Some decide to wait until molars come through before introducing grains. Wheat is recommended to be avoided until later in the first year.)

Baby Led Weaning foods to avoid:

Some of these are common sense (popcorn for baby?!) but some good reminders when practicing baby led weaning.

  • High choking risk foods like: grapes, cherry/grape tomatoes, nuts, whole hot dogs. (You can find a full list here.)
  • Allergic foods like: gluten, egg whites, nuts (peanuts), seafood, and citrus, especially if you have family history of sensitivity
  • Added table salt* or sugar
  • Unhealthy and processed foods like: chips, popcorn, sugar-containing foods, breakfast cereals, gum, and hard candy.
  • Honey
  • Stimulants: like chocolate or sugar

* Small amounts of high mineral sea salt can be added with the approval of physician

Baby Led Weaning Safety

There are obvious safety concerns with introducing solids to your baby. Assuming that baby has shown signs of readiness and can sit up unassisted, it’s then important for parents to be vigilant and never leave baby alone when eating. It’s equally important that only baby put food into her own mouth.

Won’t my baby choke?

Choking is a real concern with any supplemental feeding, which is why close supervision is necessary. That said, there needs to be a distinction between gagging – which is a safety mechanism that safeguards against choking by bringing large pieces of food forward to be chewed – and real choking. As baby grows, the place in her mouth that triggers the gag reflex moves further back towards the throat. According to Rapley, this is one reason why baby led weaning is valuable, because baby learns to chew and swallow when this reflex is still very close to the front of the mouth. Of course, for all parents, understanding the signs of choking and knowing how to respond is very important. Here is online education… but better yet, contact your local hospital or community center to find classes.

Will my baby get enough to eat?

Breastmilk (or formula) will make up the majority of baby’s nutrition from 6-12 months of age. The main purpose of solids in the first year is to introduce baby to new tastes and textures while teaching her to chew and swallow food. If baby is gaining normally and thriving, then she is getting enough to eat. Baby-led solid feeding trusts that baby knows when she is hungry, when she is full, and what she needs to meet her nutritional needs. If she is struggling with low weight, you can certainly add in some smoothies, purées, or extra fats like avocado and butter. That’s the beauty of baby led weaning. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Work with your physician to determine what is best.

Will my baby get enough iron without iron-fortified baby cereal?

Yes, if she is breastfed. The iron in breastmilk is absorbed at a percentage of 50-70% while the iron in iron-fortified cereal is absorbed at a rate of 4-10%.  According to Kellymom.com, “Healthy, full-term infants who are breastfed exclusively for periods of 6-9 months have been shown to maintain normal hemoglobin values and normal iron stores.”Breast milk is actually a perfectly sufficient source of iron.”

I would add letting your child’s umbilical cord pulse and wait to clamp for at least 3 minutes after birth helps tremendously since the baby gets 1/3 of his blood supply back! It also probably helps if a breastfeeding mama consumes her placenta and eats red meat a few times a week to replenish her stores.

Formula fed babies may also get enough iron from iron rich finger foods such as:

  • Meat & poultry (especially beef and liver)
  • Winter squash
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sea vegetables
  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Egg yolks

If there is a concern about baby’s iron level, have it tested before supplementing.

Tips for BLW (baby-led weaning)

SaveMama NaturalBaby-led weaning allows and encourages baby to self-feed solid finger foods instead of receiving purées via spoon. Here’s how and why to practice it.39115Mama NaturalMama Natural ☝ Blog Posts
  • Hunger can create an unhappy experience for everyone. Be sure to nurse or bottle feed baby up to an hour before offering solids so that his tummy isn’t empty.
  • Forget about expectations and let it be a learning experience. Baby probably won’t eat much at first, and that’s ok!
  • Realize that it may be a slow process. Babies can take a longer time when they’re in charge. As they get the hang of it, feeding time will be quicker.
  • It will be messy. Many parents find a naked baby is easiest to clean up afterwards.
  • Don’t serve small pieces of food but instead serve pieces of food large enough for baby to grasp easily. Some families find cutting food with a crinkle cutter or rolling pieces of food in oat flour can make pieces easier for baby to hold.
  • If food can be smashed between your finger and thumb, it’s probably appropriate for baby.
  • Don’t put more than a few pieces of food on the highchair tray or table at once, so baby won’t get overwhelmed (or have as much to throw!)

Progress Not Perfection

Keep in mind that you can always do a hybrid approach to feeding. Super soft foods like avocado and sweet potato might be better served with a spoon. Let your child play and try to feed herself using the utensil. You’d be surprised just how well she can imitate you! Some moms let baby gnaw on soft pear slices, but prefer to spoon feed foods like puréed meat or bone broth. I know some parents who make smoothies, which a baby can drink through a straw if the family is on the go. Just know that you can experiment with feeding approaches that work best for your family and lifestyle. (Although it’s best to probably stick with a few set routines so your baby doesn’t get confused.)