Today's post is part of the Carnival of Evidence-Based Parenting. The theme, transition to parenthood, makes me sentimental even though I've been a parent for 12 years. This month Jessica Smock hosts the carnival on her blog School of Smock. Check out the links to the other posts there. You can catch us on Facebook too where we welome links to similarly evidence-based posts. Join us on Twitter (@MommaData) this Friday 1-2pm EST to talk new parenthood (#parentscience).
I'm dedicating this to my bestie who with hubby just welcomed two little girls into this world. Bravo!
New mothers face an avalanche of information. Advice, news, official recommendations, the latest scientific discoveries. It reaches parents from newspapers, books, television, the internet and elsewhere. This collective mass of supposed wisdom, The Parenting Media as I like to call it, includes journalists, researchers, medical professionals, psychologists, government officials and anybody else with a public platform trying to tell parents how to raise their kids or more likely, how they can really screw up. The briefings for new moms cover everything from preeclampsia, postpartum depression, early brain development, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and colic to the more mundane like swaddling, storing breast milk and finding time to have sex again.
There is one topic, however parents likely will not encounter in all the tutorials and revelations.
The parenting media itself!
child health: 1,600,000,000
For information she goes straight to a search engine for answers about child development and specific health conditions or illnesses. She might also head to her favorite parenting website or less often to one her friends recommended. A small 2004 study out of Atlanta found women who work out of the home were more likely to go online for answers about specific parenting issues. Stay-at-home mothers, in contrast, wanted to confirm their beliefs or get reassurance their kids were normal or that they were doing the right thing. Confirm their beliefs.......oh yeah red flag for those of us concerned with the accuracy of information online (hold that thought).
Now I hate to dump more stress, guilt and responsibility on moms, especially those new to motherhood but the media is not going to leave parents alone. Yes, the media should do a better job at conveying nuanced, accurate information in context. Journalists, editors, news organizations, university press offices, researchers, they could all make some changes but there's no turning back on the excessive safety alerts and recommendations. The anxieties and advice will fluctuate but not the volume so parents should be informed and ready. Along with a birth plan and layette, mothers-to-be should prepare their own media kit to cope with the impending storm. Honing a better sense of how to judge the accuracy of claims about kids is not as simple as picking out a stroller but it's well worth the ability to cut through the fluff and fear-mongering. I can't promise new mothers peace of mind but I guarantee the next study or risk will pop up faster than the ultra-light five-point harnessed, all-terrain eco stroller folded up at her feet.
Remember, you can find the carnival on Facebook too. Like us, comment or add a link to other evidence-based posts on new motherhood or fatherhood! Okay T., put the boob away, read this and get some sleep...xoxo.
Here’s a quick list of our contributors for this second edition of the Carnival of Evidence-Based Parenting:
The Transition to New Motherhood (Momma, PhD)
Bonding in Early Motherhood: When Angels Don’t Sing and the Earth Doesn’t Stand Still (Red Wine and Applesauce)
The Connection Between Poor Labour, Analgesia, and PTSD (The Adequate Mother)
For Love or Money: What Makes Men Ready for New Fatherhood (Matt Shipman)
What the Science Says (and Doesn’t Say) About Breastfeeding Issues, Postpartum Adjustment, and Bonding (Fearless Formula Feeder)
No, Swaddling Will Not Kill Your Baby (Melinda Wenner Moyer, Slate)
Sleep Deprivation: The Dark Side of Parenting (Science of Mom)
Reassessing Happiness Research: Are New Parents Really That Miserable? (Jessica Smock)
40 Long Days and Nights (Six Forty Nine)