In early 2020, I excitedly found out I was pregnant. Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly I had to attend doctor appointments wearing a mask, with my husband impatiently waiting in the car and baby prep classes taking place via zoom. Due to the lack of prenatal classes, I turned to YouTube for basic guidance - you know, What to pack for the hospital, Pregnancy hauls, newborn must-haves. As I neared my due date in late-2020, and it became clear that this was not going to be a normal birth (unless you consider laboring with a mask on ‘normal’), I turned to YouTube to see how others faced, and ultimately, overcame the new struggles the pandemic brought with it. From watching regular birth vlogs to binging Giving birth during a pandemic videos, YouTube was my go-to for information and insights, and the mommy creators (no pun intended) turned into my support group.
And, I wasn’t the only one. Since the pandemic became a worldwide phenomenon in March 2020, over 73 new moms posted videos relating to giving birth during the pandemic, creating over 77 pieces of content. Mamas-to-be were flocking to this type of content - this video by Sunkissed Mama called An Emotional Live Birth Vlog has over 11 million views! This video, as well as the many others, showed the reality of getting a COVID test whilst in the peak of labor, laboring with a mask, not being allowed to leave your room, and friends/family seeing the baby for the first time via zoom.
During these unprecedented times, another ‘trend’ peaked through - home births. Due to the fear of catching COVID-19 at the hospital and not wanting to be around so many people, many pregnant mothers preferred giving birth at home. As can be seen from the trends graph, there was a dramatic increase in videos relating to ‘home birth’ uploaded to YouTube in 2020. In April 2020 alone, over 100 ‘home birth’ videos were uploaded!
Following the birth of my son, I again turned to YouTube for both entertainment and information during my maternity leave. During this time, mommy-and-me type activities were cancelled (understandably, zoom versions don’t exist) and meeting with other new mothers wasn’t ideal. So, the next best thing was watching creators that were showing how they were realistically overcoming the current situation with a newborn. Between January 2020 to June 2021, over 300 videos relating to newborn routines, newborn must-haves, and what a realistic day in the life with a newborn is like were uploaded to YouTube. As can be seen by the graph below, there were much more videos uploaded with these keywords in 2020 than years prior.
Interestingly, in 2019 these types of videos received over 34 million views while in 2018 the same type of content received only 13 million. This shows that there was a major increase in expecting mothers/mothers with newborns in early-2020 that turned to YouTube for insight.
A few weeks after bringing our little bundle of cuteness home and trying to settle into some sort of routine, I found myself facing a new hurdle - postpartum depression. The newness of it all, the lack of sleep and, the cherry on top, not being able to see family and friends or even coffee at a coffee shop due to the pandemic, all added up. I tried to research the condition via Dr. Google, but found that watching and listening to other women who faced, and ultimately, overcame postpartum depression gave me a bigger sense of relief and support.
As the graph clearly shows, there has been a gradual increase in videos relating to ‘postpartum depression’ uploaded to YouTube since 2016. While this is quite unfortunate as it may mean that more women are dealing with this difficult condition, it can also prove that more and more women are opening up about their journey with postpartum depression.
As my baby got older, my YouTube searches slightly changed. However, I found that I became a loyal follower of a handful of mama’s who gave birth during the pandemic, subscribing to their channel and keeping up with their videos. A great example is Milena Ciciotti, a mother to two kids, one of which was born in the height of COVID-19. This creator uploads unfiltered, honest videos about being a young mother of two. Although it’s heartwarming to watch women easily transition into motherhood or boast about their babies sleeping through the night, it’s a relief (and honestly more believable) to see mothers waking up multiple times in the night, dealing with tantrums, facing the new challenges of staying at home all day with babies due to the pandemic and, my personal favorite, trying to create a sleep routine.
While there’s no substitute for meeting face-to-face, this past year has taught me, and many others, how important it is to find people who make you feel supported - even if they’re online. According to this article by YouTube, Finding your mom group during lockdown, other women also agree that they “wouldn’t have been as confident as a first-time mom without YouTube.”