You’ve got a friend…

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram this week, (#soblessed!) as despite being the social media person for Suffolk Babies, I’m not actually that up to date on anything other than Facebook. Showing my age there…! There’s a huge amount for anyone running a business to learn about how best to utilise things like Facebook and Instagram to reach people and get our message out there, and marketing gurus go on about “funnels” and “engagement” and other nonsense things that I feel I probably ought to be doing something about. Instead of chasing hundreds of likes, I would rather be posting stuff that’s real and that I think is entertaining. I feel pretty awkward about putting loads of hashtags on my posts, trying to get attention. Attention seeking is not my strong point! (Don’t ask how I ended up being the marketing person…!)

So if you are on Instagram, do please help me out and come and follow us @suffolkbabies. You’ll probably be able to spot from a mile off my efforts to try and be better at the whole online marketing thing.

The problem is that I find it all a bit false. Connecting with people on social media is nothing like the connection you get from chatting to people in real life. Facebook, and particularly Instagram, are all about the appearance – beautiful images of the ideal version of someone’s life. Plenty of studies have shown how exposure to this makes us feel worse about ourselves. It’s rare that someone is going to post a selfie of themselves locking themselves in the bathroom to have a cry, or shouting at their toddler, or rocking a non-sleeping baby, bored out of their mind. We post the best stuff, the funniest and the cutest pictures.

Even the “mummy bloggers” who do post funny things about how much gin they drink and how their child has just pooed on the floor, or whatever, tend to be good looking, well dressed and made up. (Probably because they get sent so many freebies!) It actually isn’t easy to take these sorts of pictures and make them look good. Remember, for many of them, this is their business, and how they make their money.

I don’t know who this “mummy blogger” is, but it’s not easy to take a picture like this without professional help!

Only a very strong, self-assured individual wouldn’t compare themselves and their life to these images – and we know that having a new baby is not a great time for self-confidence and self-assurance!

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew literally nobody else with a new baby, and if I had been relying on the internet to give me a sense of belonging I would have been made utterly miserable by the lack of real human contact. There are some wonderful websites, forums and groups where I found all sorts of useful information, but it wasn’t the place to make real friends. You may have had a different experience or course. Thankfully I made a group of friends through antenatal classes, and then a wider network through meet ups for various groups.

If you have been to one of our free antenatal workshops please do consider booking onto a longer course, either during pregnancy, or once your baby is born. I’m not saying this in an attempt to sell more Suffolk Babies courses – find the right class or group for you; it doesn’t have to be one of ours. (Even though ours are the best!) So often we get feedback that coming to our classes and making new friends is a lifeline for people. Being a mum can be lonely, and we know that loneliness is a massive problem in today’s society, despite how many “friends” on social media we may have.

It’s something we really want to tackle through our work in Suffolk Babies, and is why we love having our own centre so that people can hang out before or after their classes and chat and let their babies play in a safe space. We also have teachers in different areas who are working really hard to build communities of mums. So please join your local Suffolk Babies Facebook group, and if you would like to use that group to arrange meet ups of local mums, please do! We will be very happy to facilitate this.

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