I am 7.5 months pregnant. And I am gonna be a new mom. I consider myself fairly tech savvy and use the internet for googling all sorts of information ( despite my doctor telling me explicitly not to!), but still- have a million un-answered ones. No matter how much you get from parenting books and your relatives- there is absolutely nothing like talking unabashedly talking about your worst fears with a friend who has undergone the same experience or currently in the same pool as you.
This is where technology has bridged the distance gap between cities and people everywhere. No longer do mothers have to feel helpless or even stressed with the myriad of information options the world wide web inflicts on them and they can be part of communities that support and enhance the well being of mother and child. These communities operate across easily accessible digital platforms such as Facebook and create an open environment for mothers everywhere to come together.
A few examples of these are Gurgaon Moms with over 11k members, Mumbai Moms with over 100k+ members, Firstcry’s World Of Moms and the newest entrant in this space- TinyStep which has an investment by Flipkart for about $2 Mn. What do these communities have in common? First hand information and genuine experiences from mothers in the fields of baby care, therapy, infant care,relationship, advice, food, lifestyle, health, technology, and education in their local areas and beyond. It’s sort of like a separate “Google for parenting”!
Neela Kaushik , the founder of Gurgaon Moms says, “I was new to the city and had so many questions. Though the internet has plenty, it’s best to hear it straight from a parent’s mouth. I was also a media professional looking for a job and the corporate world wasn’t kind to me at all. So i decided to start the group and focus on my passion to help mommies prioritise themselves and enjoy the motherhood journey!”
Kiran Manral, the famous author of Karmic Kids also adds, ” I completely love the sisterhood of the blogging moms and seegroups that run into thousands! I marvel at how connected the www has made us where we get replies at the touch of a button, solidarity and information. I only worry that in the event of unfiltered information in the case of medical queries, but for the rest, I’m all for moms reaching out to other moms and hand holding each other through the early years.”
Since the internet is location agnostic, the spread of these communities is astounding. Most of the communities focus on building stronger relationships instead of numbers. Straight from the horse’s mouth, I spoke to a couple of moms in these communities to know their point of view!
Yashodhara Lal from Genpact who is also an author is in full support, “Earlier it was blogs, and now its FB. I’m an active member of the wonderful community called ‘Gurgaon Moms’ and I am a daily witness to seeing hundreds of moms using it to their advantage, asking practical, philosophical and sometimes whacky questions of each other!”
Sruchi Sangla, a member of Mumbai Moms says, “Moms are definitely engaging more today. Be it parenting issues, educational concerns or in any sphere, we get ample amount of experience and knowledge sharing from experts on the topic to experienced moms in a matter of seconds. It’s just like having experts with you 24×7.”
Anuja Vyavahare of WorldOfMoms also chimes in, “I believe, as a new mom, there are several questions that may arise, but if there are elder members (mother or mom-in-law) in the family, generally new mums tend to rely on them for resolving any parenting queries. If not, then new moms are bound to find solutions on the internet. Here’s where mommy forums and communities like World Of Moms play a key role and moms resort to them for all their parenting issues. ”
Joining these communities is fairly easy. While most are active on Facebook as Groups, WorldOfMoms has most of its information on its website. These entities also offer videos, contests, support pre and post pregnancy, schooling info and even food for the new born child. But here in lies in the basic dilemma, how much is too much? How do you separate the right from wrong?
“Information from a known source especially another mom is good information for me. I back that up with internet research”, adds Neela Kaushik. But Rakhi Parsai , a member of the WorldOfMoms community is of the opinion, “ Being an Indian, I prefer communities/forums which are Indian and which has credibility. Also the next criteria that I follow is who is providing the information, if its medically backed and also how many experts or moms are vouching for that information. I go ahead and follow the advice off the internet, when I know it wont affect my child drastically if I tried it! “
Technology has been a major enabler in the motherhood journey and will continue to fuel innovation in this space. Kiran Manral says, “The key is to be honest. Talk like you would to a friend.” Neela of Gurgaon Moms believes that, “Technology is definitely a huge boon for a new mom – While I say that, in the same breath, would also like to mention that it is only a tool and it depends on how you use it. She can lookup information, exchange notes with other moms, seek inspiration and even shop online. Being part of online communities can make her feel safer and better. It can help her accomplish her tasks more effectively. She can use it make her life easier.”
So mothers of India, rise! The world wide web is here to take your troubles away and make motherhood enjoyable! These amazing women are just a click away, so come on, step up! India is surely changing, and so should we!