As my confidence grows and the dynamics of my blog change, I want to be able to provide advice to new mums who are in the same position as I was several months ago—terrified, overwhelmed and exhausted.— Lynne Thomson, author of the blog Ooh Baby — All Things Cuteable
As of 2010, according to eMarketer, 3.9 million women with children under age 18 were writing blogs on a range of topics, including parenting. That figure was projected to reach 4.4 million in 2014. Nearly 17.3 million mothers who used the Internet were reading blogs at least once a month as of 2010, eMarketer reported. For the typical blogging mum, the goal is not to achieve the most hits or generate income through advertising, but to share the experience of motherhood with others.
Blogging: A modern day therapy?
Blogging represented an important stage in Lynne Thomson's new life as a mother. She started a blog after being diagnosed with postpartum depression—also called postnatal depression—when her daughter Maya was 8 months old.
"I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of being a new mother and struggling with the huge change to our lives," she said. "I had completely lost my identity and my sense of self-worth. I was completely lost."
Having suffered from periods of depression since her teenage years, the 37-year-old from Ayrshire, Scotland, was determined to take control of her situation. As part of her recovery, she set goals, one of which was starting a blog. She launched Ooh Baby — All Things Cuteable in January 2011.
"I desperately wanted to chat to other mothers for support," she said. "I wanted to make sure my feelings were normal."
Thomson was hardly the only mother that felt that way. Blogging gives those mothers a sense of belonging.
"Blogging allows people to feel connected to a community," said Dr. Cheryl Rezek, a consultant clinical psychologist and the author of "Life Happens: Waking Up to Yourself and Your Life in a Mindful Way." "It enables them to express their views and to be listened to, even if the audience is invisible," said Rezek, whose practice is based in South Buckinghamshire, England. "This can provide the anonymity that a mother looks for in order to say things she might not feel comfortable saying to someone sitting in front of her, whether due to anxiety, fear or shame."
Thomson wanted to write about the range of lovely baby gifts she came across on the Internet during the many long nights of insomnia she experienced at the height of postpartum depression. Ooh Baby — All Things Cuteable quickly became a lot more than that. She has since blogged about her bouts of depression and other traumatic or emotional aspects of pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.
"As my confidence has grown, I find myself being able to open up more," she said. "Blogging is a way of finding my voice without being judged."
The blogs are also helpful to readers. A mother suffering from postpartum depression, or feeling anxious, confused or inadequate following childbirth, may turn to another mother's blog as an alternative to an in-person support group. Mum blogs have thus become a significant potential support network.
Safety in numbers
Mothers from all over the world have turned to the blog of 35-year-old Rachelle Wilkinson of Cedar Park, Texas. Wilkinson Quints +2 documents life as the mother of seven children: Riley, 10, Kaiya, 8, and 3-year-old quintuplets Kyndall, Ryder, Kaydence, Rustin and Kassidy.
Wilkinson began blogging shortly after she found out she was expecting quintuplets. It was primarily a way to keep in touch with family and friends after she and her husband Jayson relocated to Arizona to be under the care of a multiple birth specialist. Like Thomson, Wilkinson has seen her blog grow and develop beyond her initial expectations.
"I have always been horrible at journal keeping," she said. "Blogging has become my journal, and a great record of my journey through motherhood. Every year I print out my blog in book form, so I have it as a permanent record."
She also appreciates the therapeutic aspect of blogging.
"It has become a creative outlet for me," she said. " It helps me unwind at the end of the day."
Wilkinson sees her blog as a way to "pay it forward," offering support and advice to other mothers who are expecting quintuplets. She found great comfort in her weekly conversations with a mother of quadruplets throughout her own pregnancy with quintuplets.
"I'm glad my blog makes it possible to do the same for others," Wilkinson said. "It's extremely useful to have someone to talk to, who knows exactly what you are going through."
From a professional standpoint, the support system this creates is the best part about the mummy blogs.
"Mothers can often feel isolated and out on a limb," Rezek said. "Blogs can provide emotional support, alleviate anxiety, provide a discussion forum and be a place to share information, whether about nappies, parenting styles or depression."