Stephanie James is a freelance writer living in North Carolina
Life via social media is the new reality. Whether it’s a marriage proposal, a career change, or a night out with friends, all the details of our lives are being shared on a webpage designed to judge success with “likes” and “follows.” As you lounge on your couch watching Netflix, the lives of thousands of people unfold live on your feed. While the access to the idealized and seemingly perfect lives of others can be entertaining, it can also lead to some serious self-depreciation - especially for those of us dealing with infertility.
How social media affects people struggling with infertility.
When it comes to social media, most of us over share. If we come across a moment in life that we feel captures or enhances our identity, we simply upload a picture of it. Therefore, it’s no surprise that our news feeds are flooded with pictures of pregnant bellies and cute little babies. People post the aspects of their lives that they feel make them them, and motherhood is something deeply connected to many people’s identity - so it is impossible to escape on social media.
Unfortunately, the truth is that these never-ending photos of chubby babies can be emotionally devastating for those dealing with infertility. Scrolling through these photos can cause you to feel a great deal of anxiety. These posts can act as constant reminders of the struggles you’re facing and the loneliness you feel. It is common to experience feelings of jealousy, frustration, and isolation when you see all the photos of couples and their children on your feed. Then, to make things even worse, you start to feel guilty for having those feelings - you tell yourself that you’re supposed to be elated for these new parents and you question why you’re so selfish. The truth is that we all want to feel joy and happiness for the new parents on our news feed, but when you’re struggling to conceive, it’s easier said than done, so don’t fault yourself for not feeling instant joy.
You may not realize it, but you’re not alone.
We know that seeing all those newborn babies can make you feel alone in your struggle with infertility. While you’re not alone, social media will prevent you from making that conclusion. Because we don’t openly discuss it, rates of miscarriage in the US are higher than many realize - with approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in miscarriage each year. When it comes to struggles with infertility, approximately 6.7 percent of married women aged 15 to 44 are infertile, while 12.1 percent suffer from impaired fecundity. In addition, 12 percent, or 7.3 million women, have used fertility services to help get pregnant. In our society, these have always been taboo subjects and this has been carried over into the sphere of social media. While, yes, these are delicate matters, we constantly see posts about death, loss, and hardship on social media, so why aren’t we sharing about our conception struggles too? All in all, the lack of openness on social media is causing more and more women to keep their struggles private instead of connecting with others dealing with similar issues.
How to combat the negative effects of social media.
If you use social media, you are going to have to face photos of new parents and their babies. As mentioned before, it is unrealistic to think that these photos won’t affect you at all, so it is best to be prepared and mentally ready. Here are a few tips to help you combat any negative emotions:
For more information on living with infertility, check out Infertility Out Loud’s Resources.