Pregnancy Forums: The Place for Online Support, Advice and Friendship
Whether you’re a mum-to-be, expecting or navigating motherhood
Trying to conceive, pregnancy and parenthood can be exciting, traumatic, challenging and emotional periods in our lives. We often lean on close friends and family for support and advice during these times.
Nowadays, the internet offers another form of support: parenting and pregnancy discussion forums. Studies suggest more than 90% of women turn to digital resources in search of additional information when pregnant.
There are all kinds of advice forums out there and I can personally vouch for their usefulness: when I was pregnant with my daughter, I joined Pregnancy Forum and met a wonderful group of mums-to-be who were due at the same time as me and we're all still in touch today.
With the current pandemic situation to contend with as well, if you're a parent, a parent-to-be, or if you're hoping to fall pregnant soon, you may be looking for other forms of support different to traditional parent and toddler groups, fellow mum friends and other in-person support services. Joining a pregnancy advice forum may be the perfect solution.
But what do they have to offer?
Discussion sections and topics to suit everyone
What struck me the most when I first joined a parenting forum was the sheer number of sections and topics on them. Whatever your question, issue or subject you want to discuss, you'll find a space for it in these online support spaces.
If you're trying to conceive, you'll find conversations or threads with other people in a similar situation, including those undergoing IVF and others who have been trying for longer periods of time.
There are other sections where older mothers can discuss the challenges and positives relevant to them, entire pages dedicated to pregnancy discussion, baby names and post-birth issues, and there are also areas where you can seek support if you've suffered a miscarriage or loss.
There are even non-pregnancy areas where you can chat, covering anything from lifestyle themes to relationships, arts and crafts ideas, hobbies, and everything in between.
Support based on shared experiences
One of the main benefits of pregnancy advice forums, I found, is the support you get to enjoy simply from finding people going through the same experience, whatever that may be for you. You're absolutely not alone and the overwhelming majority of people on these forums are lovely and helpful. You even start to get to know some people as you would have had you met in person.
Whether you're struggling with trying to conceive, stumbling through your child's latest developmental milestone in a haze of sleep deprivation, wracked with doubts about weaning, or dealing with an overbearing mother-in-law, somebody else will be on hand to share their best tips and offer advice.
Anonymity helps if you're shy
Although pregnancy forums are no replacement for real medical advice from a professional, they can serve as a safe online space where people can anonymously ask questions they may feel a bit embarrassed to talk about with friends or family.
If you find making new friends hard in the real world, an online forum might be right for you. As you can read messages and write replies whenever it suits you, it perhaps takes away the awkwardness of an initial face-to-face conversation that you might have with someone at a parent and toddler group or antenatal class.
Friendship can emerge
After meeting a group of mums-to-be on Pregnancy Forum, we decided to make a Facebook group so we could all keep in touch after our children were born.
We've moved from anonymous, faceless usernames on a pregnancy advice forum to actual people with names and lives. Two of the mums in our group have even met up in person with their children as they live fairly close to one another.
Despite being almost exclusively online, these friendship groups can be priceless given all the social and mental benefits they offer.
Given our intermittent pandemic lockdowns, I'd say they're as useful and wonderful as in-person friendships.
Read product reviews and recommendations before you buy
Lastly, these discussion sites can be excellent places to browse reviews left by other users or ask for recommendations if you can't find what you're looking for.
Whether you're looking for information on products, local or national support groups, mother and toddler activities in your area, or even holiday destinations, you can ask or read about these in online pregnancy forums.
Ultimately, every mum or mum-to-be needs a support network around her and pregnancy forums are the perfect online resource to reach people from around the world. This is especially true in light of the recent pandemic and restrictions we've all been experiencing.
What about you? Have you used any online forums? Which ones? Let me know in the comments :)