How Do You Use Smartphones & Social Media as a Postpartum Mom?

How Do You Use Smartphones & Social Media as a Postpartum Mom?

I had our first baby in 2002.

Smart phones basically didn’t exist. Facebook didn’t exist yet. Texting was still fairly new. Phones were still, pretty much, just phones.

POSTPARTUM WITHOUT A SMART PHONE/TABLET

In fact, for our first 4 babies, I didn’t have a smart phone or tablet to keep me awake in the postpartum months. Here are some honest observations about that experience (as compared to nursing a baby now, with smart phones & social media):

POSITIVE THINGS:

  1. I held my babies’ hands more often while they nursed. That was standard position: one wrinkly baby arm, stretched up, clinging to my thumb, with me often fake-munching on their fingers to make them smile and giggle, while they nursed.
  2. I watched them more. Unless I was watching something on TV or directing something happening with my other children, my eyes were often fixed on this new little person.
  3. I prayed for them more while nursing. This is an honest, and sad, admission for me. I remember trying to stay awake while night nursing by searching for things to pray for them.

NEGATIVE THINGS:

  1. I would often fall asleep mid-nursing in the middle of the night and wake up to find that I’d only half-nursed the baby the last time, and only an hour or hour and a half later, he wanted to nurse again. This led to: poorer nursing habits at night, and major CRICK-neck because of falling asleep even when sitting up (yes, I know you can nurse laying down. For me that is a recipe for immediately falling back asleep and baby continually waking up and neither of us getting much of any sleep at all.).
  2. At times, I felt alone and mentally unstimulated. Unless Doug or a friend was sitting with me and visiting, it was easy to feel isolated and mentally stagnant.

POSTPARTUM WITH A SMART PHONE/TABLET

For our last 3 babies, I’ve had either a smart phone or tablet (or both) at my disposal. Here are some observations about that:

POSITIVE THINGS:

  1. I can quickly share pictures and stories about my infant, which I feel is a blessing not only for now, but later, when I want to remember these precious early moments.
  2. I don’t fall asleep in the middle of the night while nursing. This was the most amazing discovery when we first had an iPad for me to peruse with baby #5 (in 2010). I actually achieved full feedings at night, rather than partial ones, which helped him (and by extension, me) sleep through the night more fully. This is actually my very favorite thing about having a smartphone as a postpartum mom.
  3. I can read books on Kindle, read my Bible on my phone, and connect with friends a little more than I might otherwise be able to, which means I feel less isolated and more mentally engaged in these early months with a newborn.

NEGATIVE THINGS:

  1. It is easy to get mentally overwhelmed, or use up your time on stupid things. That friend who always has something dramatic and angry as her status update? The sad depressing news videos? Articles criticizing the very place where you feel most weak during this postpartum time? (could be time with your toddlers, could be daily Bible reading, could be making time for female friendships). Or even the stupid time-passing-but-pointless silly videos posted on Facebook or Twitter– It’s easy to get drawn in and feel defeated/drained/discouraged by all the drama and nonsense on Facebook.
  2. It is easy to forget to stop and BREATHE IN THESE QUICKLY-PASSING MOMENTS. I have done progressively better about this with each post-smartphone baby. I do put the phone down. I purposefully make time to look at him while he pulls off and grins before vigorously latching back on. I actively remind myself to breathe in the scent the top of his head, kiss the dickens out of him, and snuggle him close while willing my arms to remember how his little bundle-body feels. Still. I sometimes forget to do this and find that I’ve just started another SpadesPlus game without even thinking about it or meaning to.
  3. Others can mistakenly perceive that you’re just sitting around doing nothing all day, when in actuality, yes, you’re sitting still and nursing 300+ minutes every day, so yes, it looks like you’re Mrs. Active Facebook Lady, but honestly you’re just trying to stay awake half the time, and get any measure of sleep the other half of the time.

I can honestly see many blessings and benefits, as well as many negatives and drawbacks, from having a smartphone.

BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES TO CONSIDER:

#1- IS IT HELPFUL? IS IT BUILDING UP (me or others)? 

1 Corinthians 10:23- “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.”

  • Am I using my smartphone in a way that edifies (builds up) the Body of Christ?
  • Am I using it to grow more godly, or to grow more distracted?
  • To grow in wisdom and love for others, or to grow more frustrated and bitter toward others?
#2- AM I BEING MASTERED/DOMINATED BY THIS DEVICE? 

(1 Corinthians 6:12- “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.”)

  • Is my smartphone/tablet ruling me, or am I ruling it? 
  • Am I unable to control myself in this area? Perhaps a day or two or seven of no-social-media might be a beneficial way to gain mastery in how you use your device(s).
#3- IS THIS THE BEST USE OF THE TIME? 

(Ephesians 5:15-16- “ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”) 

  • Is my use of this device best for this moment?
  • Am I being purposeful and wise in my use of social media? 

 

At this time, for me, I believe it IS– on the whole– helpful to have a smartphone. And I really do love the way it helps me stay awake during night feedings.

I just have to be purposeful.

Here are some ways I do that:

  • I try not to live on my phone.
  • I try not to feel false guilt if it appears that I’m living on my phone, due to the amount of time I’m sitting in one place, nursing.
  • I try to put down my phone sometimes while I’m nursing and just take it in, especially during the day.
  • I try to put down my phone as soon as I’m done nursing so that it doesn’t overtake my whole day just through habitual lack of control in this area.
  • I have “unfollowed” a number of people and things on social media so that I am not mastered or ruled by discouraging things, nonsense, or excessive drama.
  • I try to use my phone to HELP me remember– i.e., taking pictures of the beautiful/ amazing things I notice about my baby, taking unshared selfies of him & me together so that I remember these moments and so that one day, he’ll be able to see these photos of his un-put-together-but-very-happy mom who loves him so very much.

 

IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:

  • How do you use social media/smartphones/tablets with PURPOSE during the postpartum season of life?
  • Do you have any biblical principles you’d add to my list?
  • Have you set any boundaries for yourself in order to exercise self-control in this area?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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8 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    We don’t have smartphones but I do like to use facebook to connect with friends. Although, getting together in person is best, it isn’t always practical. We can message back and forth as time allows throughout the day and I feel much more connected and less lonely even if I’m not able to get out of the house much. It’s also great to be able to connect with like-minded friends that might not live close by. I wish I could take pictures with a smartphone to have the memories but I do try to remember to use the regular camera and try to encourage my oldest to take pictures too.

  2. Natalie says:

    I am not in the postpartum stage but am in the nursing stage, and I agree with the pros and cons you have listed. I especially appreciate the opportunity for mental stimulation (like this blog!) but find that in those quiet moments that social media can easily win out over prayer or Bible reading. Also, I can so easily get sucked in to the inconsequential! Two things have especially helped me: 1) We have slow internet connection (we live abroad in a remote village) which has forced me to develop the habit of being quite selective about what links I follow. I usually scan down the newsfeed first to see what is there, and then once I’ve decided on the top few links that are worth my time, then I start clicking. 2) My husband has kindly kept the FB account in his name but allows me to view it, which gives me the freedom to see what’s going on without the pressure / temptation to waste too much time getting involved in chatting/commenting/posting. Also — back to the use of the smartphone — I recently started using the voice recorder for scripture memory and found it so helpful. I just read the passage into the recorder and now it is there to play over and over whenever I want!

  3. Carrie says:

    It is incredibly easy to get sucked in and before you know it, you’ve spent more than enough time on social media. This has been a big concern of mine. I have been guilty in the past of spending too much time on social media, especially when I was nursing a little one. I have read many articles lately about the effects of social media on people and have written about it as well on my blog. It’s very alarming. Thanks for writing this post.
    http://unspeakablejoymovement.blogspot.com/2015/03/taking-stand-against-idol-of-technology.html

  4. Emily Jensen says:

    Very helpful and honest look at this subject.
    I agree that having my phone / tablet / computer helps with mental stimulation and using my whole mind to worship God. Having it nearby means I can listen to excellent teaching and worship music during various chores, or even when I’m playing with the kids. Also, I like that there are so many Christian authors and bloggers putting helpful, gospel-centered content out there for me to read. This allows me to engage my mind and learn new things! I love that I’m able to read kindle books and have access to scripture anytime of the day. What is hard for me is that those good activities can sometimes suck me into wasteful things that distract from my kids. Or I find myself not stopping and tending to a discipline issue because I don’t feel like putting down my phone. So that’s a heart issue – and a negative!

    For boundaries, I try to do ‘no phone / tablet before 9 am or after 9pm’ which helps me start my day with God’s word (and not just articles) and end my day engaging my husband. It wouldn’t be bad to say ‘no social media or blogs while kids are awake’ too – but I haven’t held to that.

  5. katy says:

    i don’t have a smartphone or tv but Netflix saves me at night!!!

  6. Julie says:

    I appreciate your desire to be Biblical and realistic with things like smart phones – thanks for helping me think things like this through!

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