Pregnancy-Related Internet Forums: Scary, But Sometimes Useful

The low blood sugars are still bothering me, and the sight of my very-suddenly-protuberant belly is still kind of a shock. But I’ve found help: internet pregnancy forums.  Which is weird, because back when we were not trying to get pregnant, I had surfed through a few of them, and found them terrifying. At that point, fertility awareness charts were a big part of our not-getting-pregnant strategy (a successful part, I should add– it would have been very bad to get knocked up while taking malaria-preventive medication, which saps the folate from your system). I’d carefully read every sentence of Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and Katie Singer’s The Garden of Fertility, but sometimes it helps to get some live advice for the finer points.

There are several busy internet forums dedicated to fertility charting. But one of the quirks of the charting method is that it can be used for both avoiding pregnancy and trying to get pregnant. And in the forums, at least, the trying-to-conceive crowd vastly outnumbers the trying-not-to contingent. Also, the TTC people are completely barking insane. Seriously. If you don’t believe me, do a quick search for fertility awareness forums and shuffle through a few of them. Maybe it’s something about the hormones? Or perhaps it’s the extremely high concentration of women who want nothing more out of life than to BE MOMMIES. Not that there’s anything wrong with that– it’s just not me. And it lends itself, apparently, to abysmal grammar, absurd amounts of abbreviation (WTF is a BFP?), puerile euphemism (BD = “baby dance” = standard term for having sex), and enough pink flashing avatars and signature .gifs to trigger seizures in under three minutes. Two pages into any of them, and I feel exhausted and assaulted. The whole experience made me extremely wary of searching out pregnancy forums, once I did get pregnant.

It took me four months to try it, but I did finally work up enough desperation to dive back in. And it turns out that, despite the hormones, I didn’t have any trouble finding some semi-reasonable pregnancy forums populated by women who were already expecting. I don’t feel the need to post on them, but they have search features, and it’s fairly easy to find some basic reassurance there. Plenty of women, for instance, have posted their “belly pictures” along with how far along in pregnancy they are, so it’s quick and easy to find a wide-ranging collection of pregnant-belly photos of women at the same stage of pregnancy as me. And it turns out that even though I feel rather large all of a sudden… it’s really no big deal. For 18 weeks I’m kind of in the small-to-average range.

Also, once I started searching the forums instead of the medical literature, there were many, many discussions of hypoglycemia in pregnancy. Going by the number of people bringing it up and chiming in on the discussions, it appears to be not uncommon, and the recommendations are the same as for any case of hypoglycemia: eat often, eat small, and stay away from refined carbohydrates. It’s pretty much what I’m doing anyway, so I wouldn’t say it was helpful or informative, but it’s at least reassuring. It doesn’t answer the question of what causes it, or what the mechanism for it is, or why it’s so woefully un-addressed in the medical literature, so I’m still curious– just less perturbed, as (anecdotally) it doesn’t seem to cause problems at the blood sugar ranges I’ve recorded.

I’m still not interested in posting belly pictures and discussing baby names with total strangers (only my husband has that kind of security clearance), but… pregnancy forums: they’re not as scary as I thought–certainly not as scary as charting forums– and they do have their uses. Who’d have guessed it?

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