Baby Envy on Social Media
Does Facebook Make You Feel Sad?
Whether you’re trying to conceive and having trouble getting pregnant or you’ve begun fertility treatments and going through the physical and emotional stress of infertility, it may seem like you’re surrounded by pregnant women and cute babies. The pain and strain of seeing these moms-to-be can be intense, even if you have a supportive partner. If you’re trying to become a single mom you may feel less emotional support.
And social media can make your misery even worse. All those Facebook posts of baby bumps, baby photos and cute videos can increase your feelings of depression.
Are you feeling baby envy? It doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s normal to feel some envy and depression when you’re coping with infertility. Here are some ways to deal with it.
Don’t Check Facebook Every 10 Minutes
Here’s a radical thought—you don’t have to be on social media 24/7. Recent studies have found that the more time people spend on Facebook the more depressed and dissatisfied they become. And it’s not just people who are trying to get pregnant. A new University of Michigan study of college-aged adults found that the more they used Facebook, the worse they felt. The study was published in the journal PLOS One, and concluded that Facebook use led to declines in happiness and life satisfaction.
The study didn’t get at the reasons for this, but research co-author John Jonides said in an interview with NPR that he suspects it has to do with social comparison. Looking at photos of other people on vacation at a beach when you’re buried in snow is guaranteed to make you feel worse! Likewise seeing a deluge of baby pictures, or the cute layette someone has on their Pinterest board. The solution for Facebook despair, according to this study, is less Facebook. Limit the amount of time you spend on social media. Consider checking it once a day, or less. Hide posts that you find hurtful. The study researchers also had another recommendation: Have real social interactions with real live people.
Reach Out In Person Or On the Phone
Direct interactions with other people make us feel better. Talk to a good friend who isn’t pregnant, meet someone for lunch. Get offline, put down the smartphone, and really pay attention. No texting, no reading emails, no Twitter—just talk, and hug, and be totally present. Chances are you’ll enjoy it.
If you’re undergoing fertility treatment, many fertility centers have support groups you can join. Being with other women who are going through the same emotional ups and downs can be helpful. And it’s easier to feel happy for someone else who is successful at getting pregnant when you know she’s been struggling, too.
Enjoy the Present
Be kind to yourself, and to your partner as well. One of these days you WILL have a child, believe it! And when you do, your life as a couple will change profoundly. No more late nights unless you’re up with a colicky baby! No more romantic getaways! Concentrate on things you enjoy and that make you smile, whether it’s a date night at the movies or a thriller you can’t put down. Do your best to be in the moment and to appreciate the good times you have right now.