One of my best friends, 23 weeks into her second pregnancy, has been complaining for a while of a strained feeling around her abdomen.
"I feel like I remember having that in my second pregnancy, too," I said. "Isn't it called 'round ligament pain'?"
"That sounds familiar," she said, "in my self-diagnosing research."
Pregnancies have come a long way since the dawn of the Internet, and even more so with the total-world domination of Google. When I woke up at 2 a.m., a few days before I was scheduled to be induced with my first daughter seven years ago, I couldn't tell if I'd peed my pants or my water broke. (Hey, it was 2 a.m.!) My husband and I busted out the pregnancy books and scoured them to see if there was any information on how to tell if your water broke.
Google that question now, and you'll be rewarded (or punished) with 41,600,000 results. But Dr. Google isn't the only way the Internet has been a game-changer for pregnancies in just the past several years.
1. A new world for getting pregnant
TTC? There's a website for that. There are 32,330,000, to be precise. Sure, ovulation kits are helpful (and expensive), books abound in the library and your obstetrician surely knows a lot. But with the Internet, now you can read other people's stories, tricks, tips, woes and successes on-demand, without spending a dime or waiting for a return phone call. It's a whole new world online that wasn't available before when many moms-to-be felt isolated in their struggles to conceive, go through IVF or artificial insemination, or adopt. Whether you're tracking your period or the best possible moment to make that baby, there's an app for that (like this new one).
2. Instant baby announcements
No one was on Facebook when I was first pregnant (no one I knew, anyway). It wasn't a thing to make being knocked-up "Facebook official." Neither were details about going in to labor or which cliché you'd use to announce the birth ("We're over the moon to introduce our son!" "And baby makes three!"). Back then, it was about phone calls (not even texts as much), emailed photos and actual birth announcements sent in the mail.
3. Online shopping
Have an urge to splurge on a convertible crib? Chenille-covered glider for the nursery? Once upon a time, you'd have to schlep your belly to the mall or find a baby store where you'd then get distracted by the tiny socks and overwhelmed by the price of BPA-free bottles. Now, however, you can go online and just do it all without worrying about what you didn't know you're missing. Missing the list entirely, however? Don't sweat it. You'll find one online.
4. You get a blog, and you get a blog, and you get a blog
For moms-to-be who live far away from family, the Internet has been a savior in terms of keeping loved ones in the loop on a pregnancy. Blogs, websites, Instagram accounts and Facebook pages allow anyone concerned to keep up with the progress of the pregnancy and see photos—all of which can eventually be turned into a site once the baby is born to keep track of the little one's life.
5. Digital albums
Bad at keeping a baby book IRL? How about doing it online, instead? Moms have enough guilt as it is. One thing to cross off the list, thanks to the Internet, is the lack of photo albums. Make them online, keep them online and get them printed IRL.
6. Digital (Un)support
Not everything online is sunshine and roses. In fact, sometimes there are more thorns than anything else. Many people who have ever posted a comment or question on a blog or online article have found that with the Internet comes anonymity, and without a name or a face, some people feel emboldened to make nasty and hurtful comments. You'd think pregnant women would be exempt, but sometimes it's as if their pregnant bellies have an actual bullseye on them.
If you thought frenemies were the worst, you're probably not a mom yet. Mom-emies are those women you used to see at Music Together classes or Mommy and Me gymnastics. They'd smile at your little one, all while their eyes tell you it's strange your yearling still uses a bottle and hasn't switched to a sippy cup yet. Or they'd loudly tell their child to say, "No, thank you," to your child's offer of goldfish crackers because they only eat organic foods. Then came the Internet (and Instagram and Facebook). Once you start posting photos of your kids, just wait for the comments to pour in. Your real friends will like the photos and make sweet remarks. Your mom-emies will find a way to judge you, whether it's in 140 characters or by posting a photo in the comment section in an effort to win the War of the Cutest Baby.
It used to be if you were up at night nursing, you were all alone. You couldn't watch TV if you didn't want to wake your partner. You couldn't turn on the light to read, because, well, who wants to read at 3 a.m.? Cat videos, on the other hand, are pretty much why the Internet was invented.