A survey by charity Tommy’s of over 1,000 women looks at the role social media has in influencing women’s outlook on pregnancy and baby loss:
- 84% feel there is an online community after baby loss and 45% have made new friends
- 70% said they felt guilty; 77% felt angry and 80% felt jealously towards pregnant friend
CEO Jane Brewin says: “It is our duty as a society to talk about baby loss and support those who have been through it.”
Social media plays a huge role in pregnancy, from posting about a positive result, 12-week scan images to the notion of having a ‘perfect pregnancy’.
For those women who experience miscarriage or stillbirth, social media can be a place of comfort and support or can make the experience of baby loss feel even harder.
A Tommy’s poll of 1,116 women about the effects of social media following baby loss has shown the internet can be a positive and supportive place. 84% of women in the Tommy’s survey feel there is an online community after baby loss and 45% found support and/or made new friends after connecting with other parents who have gone through loss on social media.
Georgie Hayden, a food writer from London, whose son Archie was stillborn, comments: “I’ve found the baby loss network to be really, really positive and through that forum I’ve made some amazing friends.”
Anna Whitehouse, blogger on Mother Pukka, comments: “I think the power of social media, the power of sharing [is to] find people who can lift you up.”
The Tommy’s poll also revealed some upsetting truths. Of the 79% of respondents who had experienced miscarriage and 21% a stillbirth, 70% said that they felt guilty; 77% felt angry and 80% felt jealously towards pregnant friends.
Jennie Agg, journalist and author of The Uterus Monologues who has experienced recurrent miscarriage, comments, “it’s very hard to see people posting on social media how hard parenting is, or how none of their clothes fit and I can only think ‘I wish that was me’.”
Over 66% of women felt ‘bombarded’ by pregnancy news and stories following baby loss and 57% were upset to be targeted by online pregnancy adverts.
One anonymous woman on the survey revealed “It is so painful to receive pregnancy reminders after the death of your baby. ‘You are now 28 weeks pregnant and the baby is the size of a butternut squash!’. No, my baby is dead.”
When women in the poll were asked how social media affects them when pregnant, over a third said they felt pressure to have a ‘perfect bump and pregnancy’ while 25% announced their 12-week scan news on social media.
Twenty-three percent said they looked at pregnant celebrities and famous women on Instagram and felt jealous and 42% feel pressure to feel happy during pregnancy and hide any worries or concerns.
Siobhan Gray, Head of Brand at Tommy’s comments: “We know social media has a huge role in our lives and that of parents who have lost babies. We see so many women connecting not only with our research and midwives, but with each other – sharing their experiences, offering advice and support and coming together to tackle the stigma of baby loss. We hope that by encouraging and supporting mums and dads to speak about baby loss, we can move to a deeper understanding of their experiences which will in turn make it much easier for us to engage in research and care for bereaved parents.”
Siobhan Gray at Tommy’s continues, “Baby loss isn’t just ‘one of those things’ or a ‘bunch of cells, and these feelings of guilt and jealousy can be exacerbated and engrained by our daily phone scrolling through feeds of seemingly perfect 9 little squares. We know it’s not real, but it can be hard to remember that life certainly isn’t picture perfect. Tommy’s hope that by challenging the social media taboo and the notion of a ‘perfect pregnancy’ people will come together for support following baby loss and become one voice challenging for medical answers and greater awareness.”
#TogetherforChange, launched a new video which highlights the effects of social media following baby loss through a series of videos and a new community forum.
The campaign is calling for more open dialogue and challenges the stigma of silence around baby loss.
Tommy’s CEO Jane Brewin urges society to consider it a collective duty to talk about baby loss and support those parents who have been through it.