When women had questions about baby care a mere generation ago, they either called
the doctor or thumbed through their trusty copy of Dr. Benjamin Spock's Baby and Child Care. Today, there is a seemingly endless amount of information and advice available to pregnant women and new mothers, particularly online. "The Internet can be a wonderful tool to augment our information and give us quick answers," says Gwenn Schurgin O'Keeffe, M.D., chief editor of PediatricsNow.com and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Communications in Media. "But it can also fuel worry unnecessarily." So how can you put your feet in the information stream without drowning? Some tips:
Limit your reading. Choose a few authoritative, trustworthy sources—books such as Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn: The Complete Guide (Meadowbrook Press) and The New Basics: A-to-Z Baby & Child Care for the Modern Parent (Collins). Look for titles that reflect your own philosophy, and stick with them.
Watch carefully. Television shows about pregnancy and childbirth often focus on uncommon events and rare complications, exaggerating for dramatic effect. Question their validity and limit your viewing.
Think critically. If something sounds extreme, especially one-sided or just plain weird, verify it with other trustworthy sources, such as your OB-GYN or midwife: The information may be slanted if there's a product being sold or an agenda being promoted.
Connect with others. A great way to use the Internet is to connect with other pregnant women or new moms, either through social networking websites, blogs or listings of local parenting groups. But don't rely solely on cyber-connections; you also need face-to-face company.
Ask your friends to back off. Request that Internet junkies keep their links to themselves. "If you don't want to hear about every disease of the week, you have to tell friends and family," says Denise Fields, co-author of Baby 411 and Toddler 411 (Windsor Peak Press).
Give yourself credit. Dr. Spock's admonition makes as much sense now as it ever did: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."
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