From advanced ultrasounds to live-streaming labor, technology plays a big role in pregnancy, especially for the millennial generation. But does it help or hinder?
There's no shortage of stereotypical parenting styles that yo-yo from the super involved (helicopter) to the hands-off (free range). Now there's a new mom on the block—the millennial. Her pregnancy must-have? A smartphone. According to a study conducted by Weber Shandwick, a public relations firm, millennial moms are spending more time online than any other generation. (Hey, those "We're having a boy" statuses don't write themselves!)
"Today's moms are not only using technology more throughout their pregnancies than generations before, but they are looking to it to make them more informed and connected throughout their pregnancy," says Julie McCaffrey, owner of BabyNavBaby Planners, an agency that helps expecting parents prepare for their new babe, in Westchester, N.Y.
Considering the plump range of technological options, this comes as no surprise. "There are apps for everything from choosing baby names to tracking contractions," McCaffrey says. "Many hospitals are now offering virtual tours. And many millennial parents are opting to take their infant care classes online." And the list goes on, think: Skyping into doctor's appointments, taking birthing boot camp classes online, YouTube videos that demonstrate how the latest baby gear works, apps that match you to a local lactation consultant, crowdsourcing nursery ideas via your social networks and now virtual-reality live streams of your baby's birth.
Megan Robinson, 30, a mom to two boys—Theodore, 3, and William, 1—appreciated having the never-ending network to turn to. "Technology was a great resource for both of my pregnancies," says the Oviedo, Fla. mom. "I was able to make pregnancy announcements through social media for all my friends and family—most of whom don't live near me." Robinson also joined a few parenting forums to not only turn to for advice (help, I think my son has a food allergy!), but also just to share funny stories and vent.
But Robinson's mom, Audrey Cerasale, 58, remembers a simpler time when pregnancy didn't involve Dr. Google or wondering if your friends were judging the size of your bump based off the photo you just put on Instagram. "With so much information at one's fingertips, you can devote all nine months of pregnancy to all the things, tests, foods you should be doing, taking or eating and you forget to enjoy your pregnancy," Cerasale says. "When I was pregnant we didn't have all the technology and our kids turned out pretty good!"
Pregnant with her third, Kristin Zaslavsky, 32, of Evansville, Ill. tries to strike a balance between the good and the bad: She loves getting updates on her baby's development via a pregnancy app but understands that putting her favorite baby name out there on social media may garner some negative responses. "I grew up with the Internet and all the sharing that comes with it, so I personally love it," Zaslavsky says. "My mom had one pregnancy book to turn to when she was expecting, but I have so many other ways to stay informed."
So where do you draw the line?
"I think the Internet is a great tool for pregnant women to get information," says Joanne Stone, M.D., director of maternal fetal medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital. "It's helping them become more informed and more involved. They can get information about their doctors, pregnancy conditions and find good educational material. For example, if a patient is diagnosed with a problem, there are online support groups they can join."
There's one giant rule Stone urges expecting mamas to remember: "Some sources are more trustworthy than others, so you should always run questions and problems by your doctor, as well," she says.
The moral of the story? #balance