If you’ve come here, you’re probably somewhat aware of why I made this blog. I am an avid twitter user, primarily in #NurseTwitter and #MedTwitter. Maggie, my 7 week old daughter, is the *official* baby of Nurse Twitter (just kidding, sort of). More recently, I also am involved in ‘mom twitter’, which is part of the reason I started this blog.
All of twitter is full of opinions, in 280 characters or less. It serves as an effective way to network and connect with like-minded individuals. It has been especially useful and enlightening for me as a Registered Nurse, to connect with other nurses, doctors, other healthcare professionals, caregivers and advocates (among many other wonderful people) worldwide. I’ve also connected with a lot of amazing moms or moms-to-be – many of whom are also healthcare workers!
Twitter, and other social media sites, are also full of information. Some true and reliable… others not so much. Health misinformation is one thing I commonly see on twitter – but it’s not just there. Facebook is a major culprit for the spread of misinformation as well. Google – because it brings up most accessed sites and not necessarily the most reliable ones. Instagram (advertisements and influencers!). Pretty much any form of social media can be wonderful but also dangerous and frightening. With easy access to information comes great responsibility!
Enter new mothers and soon-to-be moms. I was just recently pregnant for the first time (and am now a new mom to Maggie, above!) and it was like suddenly all this health information related to pregnancy and motherhood was being thrown at me online! You know how it works – you like something and suddenly you’re getting recommended tweets or posts about similar topics. You join a legendary ‘due date group’ on Facebook or BabyCenter or the Bump and people are posting almost hourly asking different questions, looking for recommendations, or ranting about this and that. It is a total information overload!
And motherhood and pregnancy are both already overwhelming. So many changes are happening to your body, your lifestyle, and your relationships. It can be an incredibly difficult and confusing time for many mothers – I imagine that for every pregnant woman or new mom, there is at least ONE (but likely many more) instance where you were like ‘am I doing this right?’ or ‘is what I’m doing ok?’. That’s when, often, you turn to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or another social media outlet to seek guidance. Your primary care provider (PCP), whomever that may be, is always your best resource for ANY health information!! But..but..but…. the internet is RIGHT at your fingertips. How can you resist?
Most people can’t. I am one of them – I have definitely asked for advice or opinions online, however if it really came down to my health/safety or my babies health and safety, I would of course contact my midwives or my family physician (GP) to ask any important questions. NOT EVERYONE KNOWS TO DO THIS THOUGH, or feels they need to. I’m a nurse so I believe in the healthcare system. I also trust my GP. This is why the internet and health misinformation is SO dangerous – because some people have mistrust in the system, lack a PCP or don’t trust theirs. Sometimes offices are hard to get a hold of by phone or appointments aren’t easy to come by or get to. There are so many reasons why one might ask a health question on the internet and rely on the advice they receive there – it’s easy and accessible, and people often make it seem like they know what they’re talking about. But health misinformation is RAMPANT on the internet and in my opinion, new moms and pregnant women are most exposed!
In my first trimester, I read MANY a blog post and forum post. Hell, at different phases of my pregnancy and even postpartum I’ve done it. I’ve googled something because I’m worried and I’m looking for someone to relate to. I’ve tweeted about it to see who replies saying “that happened to me too!” to ease my anxiety. THIS IS NORMAL and there is nothing wrong with doing this. What you should be aware of though is:
- To always contact your HCP with any health related questions. And I really mean any – if you have several, book an appointment. In the long run, your HCP is most likely thankful that you’re doing this and not exposing yourself to something potentially dangerous like castor oil in your vagina. Don’t feel BADLY for asking questions! They are there to help you.
- If you are going to use the internet to ask questions about your health (or your child’s or someone you loves or whoever ), refer to point #1. But since I know many people also ask online (myself included), you need to learn and be aware of potential misinformation. How to identify reliable WEBSITES and resources is important, as well as DOUBLE CHECKING ANY INFORMATION with your provider. Either go to them first or go to them second especially if the advice involves putting anything into your vagina – herbs, essential oils, castor oil, ANYTHING. Don’t do those things, please.
My goal with this blog is to provide perspective on some of the things I see online regarding women’s and children’s health (and I will delve into just general health if something pisses me off enough). DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT GIVING YOU MEDICAL ADVICE. I am actually writing this blog primarily as a new mother and for my own knowledge! I am a nurse, but I am NOT an expert in these topics nor would I ever claim to be. Anything I discuss will involve me doing research, reading studies, or asking one of the many helpful connections I have on twitter for guidance. I want to help you to identify good resources online because they *can* and *do *exist, and I also want to guide you away from potentially dangerous alternatives. I want you to know that if someone says a bunch of stuff, even if they sound confident, but they have no proof or sources to back up their claims – you probably shouldn’t follow their advice. And no – Goop and other similar sites are NOT reliable resources for any information. The results of 1 study are not even necessarily reliable.
I want to share critical thinking skills with you so that YOU can be the master of your own health and health knowledge – I still will always recommend seeing your HCP regarding any health-related questions! But I will do my best to help provide resources to address and debunk common misinformation and provide answers to simple & common questions. I will always CITE my resources for you as well, so you can read through and make your OWN judgment about your health.
I could go on and on about my goals, but overall I just want moms and those who are soon to be to not be scared of some of the things they see online. To not harm themselves or their baby. I also don’t want moms to feel like they are failures because something worked for one mom and not them – this is another common type of thing I see online and this blog is also here to address that. I want you to know that whatever you’re worrying about – it’s likely that others have also had this worry and you’re not alone! For my fellow nurses and HCPs reading – I want to rant in more than 280 characters about some the crap we deal with on Twitter! I also want you to provide me with the amazing resource that is your KNOWLEDGE, if applicable. I may enlist your help to answer questions or you’re welcome to volunteer it.
THANK YOU for coming and reading and I look forward to sharing content weekly!