Support Group vs. Scare Group
You can connect with just about anyone on the internet. It can be a very helpful to join a Facebook group for local moms, breastfeeding, postpartum support, pregnant women in your area; the possibilities are endless. Most of the time the information you can exchange is helpful. It is an amazing thing to wonder what fun activities are happening in your area this weekend for kids and get twenty responses in five minutes. Boom! You have all the information you need to plan a great weekend. You have a child with a cough and you don't want to give him harsh cough syrups, you can post in a naturally minded moms group and get ten home remedies you can try. In a world of immediate responses you can find out what you want and need to know in minutes. It is a great thing...most of the time.
When can an online support group be a bad thing? Well, anytime you post a question, you can get a lot of frantic responses urging you to take some kind of action, causing you boat loads of anxiety. You need to delete that post and walk away from the computer. For example, I recently posted a picture of daughters tongue in a support group for tongue tie moms. I knew she had a tongue tie, she will be three next week. I nursed her until she was two, and she has always had a tongue tie. We have had no issues with it. I was curious to see what types of responses I would get. Within minutes a woman responded listing every terrible thing that her tongue tie would cause. She also listed symptoms that are just normal behavior for nursing babies. She told me the gap in my daughter's bottom teeth were due to the tongue tie and I need to get it revised now before more issues arise. I responded and asked her if she was a dentist to which she replied no. She has no medical background, asked me no questions, is not a CLC or IBCLC, but she diagnosed my daughter and told me I needed to take her to have a procedure done immediately to fix it. If I were a worried first time mom, looking for some support and got that instead, I would have been a wreck. These groups are not meant for diagnosing. If you have a health concern about you or your baby you need to call your healthcare provider. If a professional diagnoses your child with something and you are looking for other mothers that have experienced that then a Facebook forum could be helpful, but it is not for diagnosing or treating.
Sometimes an in person support group is really the best way to go. There are breastfeeding support groups that meet in many communities, new mom circles, as well as specific groups for specific needs and don't forget about play groups. In many cases making a connection in person will be a greater support to you. Have you found any support groups that have been life changing for you? We would love to hear about them. Remember, trust your motherly instincts, find a healthcare provider you trust if you have health related questions, and surround yourself with a village that supports you and your decisions. Good luck and you are an awesome parent!