Is social media fertility un-friendly?
Social media has become a popular way of keeping in touch with friends and family and ensuring you are up to date with their news – but for anyone trying unsuccessfully to conceive there can be a downside to this too. Facebook in particular is often full of other people’s family news and you may find yourself faced with unexpected pregnancy announcements, endless scan pictures and then photos of babies, toddlers and smiling parents.
It’s hard to escape online announcements
When you’re trying to get pregnant, you may have found ways of escaping family-focused occasions, you may cut down the amount of time you spend with friends when they are heavily pregnant or make sure you take a route to work which avoids passing the local nursery school at drop-off time. When you’re dealing with social media, it can be far more difficult to avoid the feeling that you are being bombarded with other people’s happy family news.
It can be particularly hard if a pregnant friend is posting about how fed up she is with feeling tired and sick, or if parents are complaining online about sleepless nights or crying babies when these are problems you’d love to be experiencing.
It’s not just fertility…
It is painful if one after another of your online friends is making pregnancy announcements, and you may start to feel as if all this is aimed at you as your timeline fills up with things you’d rather not look at, but social media announcements can be hard for others for different reasons. Single friends may feel a twinge every time they see happy couple or wedding photos, friends who have lost a parent may feel sad when they see pictures of people’s mothers and fathers, friends who are out of work or having financial problems may feel jealous when they see images of fabulous holidays they could never afford to take…
You may think that none of these things are as upsetting as the things that you feel, but they do help to show that other people may not think for a moment that their posts could upset you in just the same way that it might not cross your mind that a photo of you with your mother or partner could have an impact on anyone else.
Tips for coping
So how can you avoid being upset by social media? Of course you could stop using it altogether, but if your friendship group relies on it as a regular means of communication that may leave you feeling even more isolated.
- Unfriending people because they are pregnant is a possibility, but if you don’t want to offend them a simpler way of avoiding their posts is to hide them from your timeline. This way you won’t have to face regular updates but they won’t necessarily realise that you aren’t looking at their feed.
- Limiting your use of social media can help too. You don’t need to look at your pages dozens of times a day, and it may feel quite liberating to check in less regularly.
- You may want to stop social media updates coming through to your phone or email, as this reduces the risk of suddenly coming across something upsetting when you are out and about.
- Consider focusing on other types of social media – Twitter can be easier than Facebook as people don’t post family pictures in the same way.
Finally remember that although social media can be tricky, it can also be a source of support and friendship. Connecting with other people who are going through similar experiences and joining closed online fertility groups can be incredibly helpful. It’s really a matter of finding a way to use social media that works for you, and that can have a positive rather than a negative impact on your fertility journey.
Writer and journalist
Kate Brian is a journalist, writer and author of four books on motherhood and fertility, including The Complete Guide to IVF. Kate started writing about the patient perspective on infertility after having IVF herself.
Currently, she contributes to various types of media as an expert on fertility and writes her own blog, where she gives all the latest news and views on fertility issues, as well as useful advice and links for anyone trying to have a baby.
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