Photo Credit: Max Pixel
I have been a committed blogger for 13 weeks and am proud to say that I have learned much about learning online about pregnancy and motherhood.
My digital learning project involved tracking and learning about how to have a healthy pregnancy. This project involved lots of research both online and with friends, family, my doctor, and my doula. I started my online learning by outlining several main areas that I wanted or needed to learn about in my first and second trimesters.
In my second blog post I addressed learning about what I was experiencing physically and emotionally. Learning about common symptoms and experiences from a variety of women and pregnancy blogs helped me feel less isolated and reinforced what I was experiencing. These blogs really supported my understanding that women do not talk about their pregnancies enough. I was suprised to have experienced so many symptoms and even more surprised that many women experience these symptoms in isolation and without support.
Recognizing this really pushed me to share more personally on my blog and with Chris‘ encouragement I continued to include an element of education by describing my symptoms and fetal development. I started organizing my blog into sections which involved a pregnancy update, symptoms, embryo/fetal development, and then exploring the topic of the blog. For example:
- Pregnancy Update!! I am just over half-way there! 21 weeks pregnant and feeling great!
- Symptoms: muscle soreness, stuffy nose, constipation, gas, sensitive gums, shortness of breath, hot and sweaty, and definitely experiencing “placenta brain” which involves absentmindedness and forgetfulness.
- Development: The fetus is the size of a small cantaloupe and is about 10 ounces and 6.5 inches. Their arms and legs are in proportion now, neurons are now connected between the brain and muscles; cartilage throughout the body is turning to bone. The fetus’ reproductive organs are developing more and they will be able to taste more of what I am eating now because the flavours are sensed through the amniotic fluid and the fetus is swalling small amounts of it everyday. The fetus is moving around lots and at times feels like they are doing acrobatics in my uterus. (Source: What to Expect When You Are Expecting, 5th Edn.)
My third and fourth blog posts dealt with fears and frustrations of having a healthy pregnancy and dealing with the judgements and advice of others. By reading a number of websites and blog posts about healthy pregnancies I learned about the social pressures new-moms face. It is understood that pregnant women need to eat healthy foods and exercise. The consequences of unhealthy eating habits and not exercising include having an unhealthy baby or putting on too much weight. Navigating these social pressures and not letting them become an internal dialogue of stress and concern is a big job, especially while listening to strangers discuss your pregnancy and give you advice.
I learned that the collective discussion found on the What to Expect App is especially helpful in sharing experiences and creates a network or community of women who are experiencing the same thoughts, feelings and emotions.
The fifth blog post I looked into what it means to have good nutrition and in the sixth blog post I found exercises I am interested in doing while pregnant. After sifting through ample advice about ways of eating and exercising and the comments on my previous blog posts, I realized there is no right way to be healthy while pregnant and it is completely up to me to determine what makes the most sense for my health and my fetus’ health.
I found it helpful to use my body mass index pre-conception to help determine healthy weight gain. At 21 weeks I am 142 lbs and am on track for continued healthy weight gain. Recently my doula suggested that it is not about how much I gain, but that I am eating healthy foods and getting enough protein, iron, and prenatal supplements to ensure my body is not being too depleted. The menu and excercise plan I commited to has proven to be quite nourishing for both my mind and body. I feel healthy, full, and happy!
Much like all of the other information and opinions on the web about how to be pregnant, I found numerous websites useful in helping me decide:
- whether antibiotics are safe during pregnancy,
- which baby supplies I will need by April 17th, and
- what I understand to be my birthing preferences.
In my seventh, eighth, and ninth blog posts I discussed some of the websites and ideas that helped me come to decisions. From writing these blog posts I learned that sometimes you need to make tough decisions which may compromise the health of you or your baby if it is serious enough. I learned that I could buy numerous products and be happy with probably any of them, but that I am commited to doing the research to find the best quality, most environmentally friendly, and the most cost and time efficient products for our family now, and as we grow. As well, I learned that there are two main ways of thinking about how to have a baby and since I am more holistic, natural, and relationship-focused I am more aligned with a natural childbirth than a medical childbirth experience. Though I knew this coming into the pregnancy, I did not know what it meant in terms of decision-making in the delivery room or determining birth preferences. Creating this plan has provided me with ease of mind and has allowed me to be more present during this pregnancy.
I think it is fairly apparent that the knowledge I gained specifically online through videos and blog comments were valuable tools providing valuable content and enhanced my learning experience. This information was translated into knowledge which informed personalized plans, shopping lists, exercise programs, diets, and decision-making that helped push me to understand my experience and future as a mother, better. I have learned so much about pregnancy and motherhood and have appreciated this exercise in learning online.
It is clear that many many things can be learned online, and learning about pregnancy is defnitely one of them. The ways women, and sometimes men, shared about their experiences in blogs and through Twitter was both informative and affirming.
Becoming part of these communities has better equipped me to both participate in, and be responsive to, the network of mothers or parents that exist in both local and international online communities.
Thanks for reading and supporting me throughout this learning journey!