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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Mummy blogging: is the trend helpful or harmful when it comes to motherhood?

Do mummy bloggers offer useful advice about the realities of bearing and raising a child, or promote feelings of inadequacy with picture-perfect posts about their designer-clad kids?

Mummy blogger Sofia Gouveia doesn’t post anything that could potentially embarrass her kids in the future. Courtesy Sofia Gouveia
Mummy blogger Sofia Gouveia doesn’t post anything that could potentially embarrass her kids in the future. Courtesy Sofia Gouveia

As I soak my aching back and swollen feet in a warm bath, my growing tummy protruding out over the water, I feel restless instead of relaxed. Hundreds of worries plague my brain: how exactly does a bottle steriliser work? What on earth is a nasal aspirator? What brand of shampoo will be good for my baby if she has sensitive skin? I pat my hands dry on a towel, grab my phone and open up Pinterest. Each time I find an answer to one of my questions, I’m linked to a different “mummy blogger” website, where I dive headlong into the insightful realm of online motherhood.

Before becoming pregnant, I found the concept of mummy bloggers irksome at best. While I follow a fair share of people who blog about fashion, every time one of them would get pregnant and give birth, it seemed that their pages would go from being a trove of inspirational attire to being overrun with pictures of their latest swaddle-blanket splurge, or worse, videos of their child’s various milestones – it’s hard to feign enthusiasm when the child of a blogger you don’t even know takes its first steps, even if its little feet are encased in adorable miniature Adidas Stan Smith trainers.

Inspiring mothers to be

But, when you find yourself at the start of your third trimester of pregnancy, with the reality of an actual baby looming closer and closer, you start desperately seeking all of the advice you can find. And what better outlet for a ­millennial- mother-to-be to turn to than social media? Take style tips, for instance. For the past few months, I’ve been closely following 30-year-old fashion blogger Dana Ahmed, who happens to be just a few weeks ahead of me in her pregnancy. When I saw that she found a cute green floral dress by Topshop on Namshi.com, I raced to add the same one to my online shopping cart.

Through her blog, Dana Ahmed shows pregnant women they can still be stylish. Courtesy Dana Ahmed
Through her blog, Dana Ahmed shows pregnant women they can still be stylish. Courtesy Dana Ahmed

As she grows rounder, Ahmed has embraced her changing body by continuing to update her social media page, in an effort to inspire other mothers-to-be. “I suffered a bit at the beginning finding trendy maternity clothes,” says Ahmed. “It took me some time to find the perfect shops, so I wanted to share my experience with other pregnant women, as well as non-pregnant women, to show them that we as ‘preggos’ can still be stylish and wear trendy outfits.”

The Abu Dhabi resident, who goes by @dee4dana on Instagram, where she has more than 66,000 followers, foresees her blog and social media evolving as her motherhood status is cemented, but acknowledges the risk of oversharing private moments, too. “Of course I will be adding some photos of me with my baby, mummy tips and some of my baby’s outfits, but I truly believe that we should all have some boundaries and keep some moments for us, not share everything with everyone,” she says.

Portuguese fashion- and-mummy blogger and London resident Sofia Gouveia, 39, says that she has three golden rules when it comes to her kids’ privacy. “I will never share anything that can make them feel embarrassed, either now or later in life. I won’t share where they go to school or anywhere else where they are without me or my husband, and I won’t share exactly where we live. There’s a fourth rule that I haven’t had to apply yet: if at any time one of them says that they don’t want photos or videos of themselves, I will respect that and stop sharing,” she says.

She often posts posed photos with her two kids – one of whom is a newborn. Images of her and one daughter, with another snuggled in her arms, dressed to a tee and walking down ­London’s cobblestone streets, are emblematic of the ­blogger’s regular fashion-meets-­motherhood posts. Fashion-turned-mummy bloggers have a knack for making life look unrealistically effortless, with their fresh blow-dries, ­manicured nails and ­covetable wardrobes. For Gouveia, Instagram is a modern version of a photo album – albeit a personal one, and she doesn’t mind at all that hers is on a public platform, as she feels she’s promoting messages of positivity and gratitude. “My Instagram is a collection of moments I want to ­remember and when I browse my photos I feel happy and thankful,” she says.

Still, she adds that her ambitions run deeper than just making motherhood look pretty. She also wants to inspire other mothers, and this can mean revealing some not-so-glamorous stories through her platform. “I’ve recently chosen to share a little bit more of my private life following a miscarriage and complications afterwards, which thankfully, were resolved. Then I shared about my troubled pregnancy and my premature baby – but even then, I wanted it to be positive and inspiring,” she says.

“I did not share it for the sake of sharing, I did it because I realised I could help a lot of people going through the same. I wanted to tell them that miracles do happen and you should never give up; it happened to me, it can happen to them.”

The appeal of mummy blogging

It’s this genuine desire to ­uplift and inspire others that separates the worthy-of-­following mummy ­bloggers from those who are just motivated by money and fame, decking out their little ones in designerwear to gain attention and freebies from brands, forcing their nannies to take their photos and creating ­entire online identities for their babies ­before they’re even old enough to utter their first word.

Some new mothers turn to blogging as a means of journaling, and come to the field without the baggage of fashion and fame. “Mummy blogging was a way for me to capture all the precious little moments, and to document all the adventures of being a first-time mama,” says 27-year-old ­London doctor and blogger Ruby Gad, who goes by the name Medic Mummy Ruby. Over the summer, Gad travelled to Spain and Canada, where she took her young baby swimming, boating and even hiking, without a nanny in tow.

Gad started blogging when her son was just 10 weeks old, and unlike fashion- turned-mummy-bloggers who carry with them an obsession with appearing consistently flawless, Gad has no qualms about showing what life on maternity leave really looks like. “I’m very honest about motherhood overall; I don’t sugarcoat how tired I am, or how little time I have in my day for anything that isn’t baby-­related,” she says. “I also have no problem showing when I’m a hot mess: sleep-deprived, no make-up, messy hair or in my pyjamas. I don’t agree with projecting an image of perfection that doesn’t actually exist. I think it’s helpful for other mums to know that it’s normal to have no time for things like drying your hair because you’ve been rushing around after your baby.”

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Gad’s medical experience gives her some extra ­credibility, and her first-ever blog post was in fact about diagnosing her own baby, and figuring out that a dairy allergy was the cause of his distress. “­Writing about it was almost like a relief – it’s comforting to share your struggle, even for smaller things,” she says.

The doctor explains that blogging is a therapeutic way to deal with all the stresses often brought on by motherhood, and her breed of mummy-bloggers is an honest and altruistic one – they’ll share their tips for pushchair-­shopping, recipes for weaning and advice for balancing work life with mum life.

For new mums and mums-to-be, tips that are sincere, and preferably unsponsored, can be invaluable during the last few months of pregnancy and first few months of motherhood. As trivial as it may sound, finding out the precise number of burp cloths you need to stockpile before your baby is born, from a mummy-blogger who has been in your shoes, could mean the difference between a good night’s sleep and a night spent tossing and turning in stressful anguish.