Between all the members of the MadeForMums team, we’ve worked in the world of parenting for many, many years.
During this time, we’ve witnessed a number of changes for parents of all kinds – from the technology that’s out there for us all to use to the messages we are given, as mums and dads, about everything from childbirth to feeding your baby, to the way parenthood is portrayed in the news and especially on social media.
To celebrate our 10th birthday this year (hooray!), we’ve decided to put together a round-up of 10 key changes we’ve seen in parenting in the decade we’ve been around. Take a look…
10 ways parenting’s changed in the last 10 years…
1. We’re monitoring more than ever
From apps that track your fertility levels to home dopplers that let you hear your baby’s heartbeat and, of course, high-tech videos so you can check on your baby constantly –more than ever, it seems, parents and parents-to-be are monitoring their babies, babies-to-be and themselves.
In particular, everywhere we look these days, there are new inventions designed to make it easier to look after a little baby – from devices that monitor your baby’s breathing while he or she sleeps to others that sense when your baby’s woken in the night and automatically start playing lullabies. And some of them are amazing, and some of them are, frankly, a bit meh. But, wow, there seems to be high-tech solution to everything!
2. Scans are an event
It used to be that the only scans you (usually) had while you were pregnant were the 12-week dating scan and the 20-week anomaly scan – both on the NHS.
Today, though, we know more and more of us are opting to pay for private scans, too – sometimes more than 1! – either before or after the ‘official’ ones. In fact, 1 in 4 of the mums who answered a poll on our Facebook page on this topic decided to have at least one private scan.
And they can turn into quite an event too. Forget mums-to-be going with their partner (pretty standard), it’s can now be something you take the whole family too – turning the scan into a proper milestone celebratory event.
And of course there are 4D scans now, too, where you might just get a clearer glimpse of what your baby will look like.
Often, private scans are nothing more than a much-anticipated chance to have a look at your baby again but we also know that, for those of us who are booking private scans before the 12-week NHS one, there is something else at play here: an overwhelming anxiety and the need for assurance that all is well with your baby. Which bring us neatly to number 3 on our list…
3. We’re feeling increasingly anxious about miscarriage
Thanks to the development of very early pregnancy test (where you can test before you’ve even missed your period) and to the arrival of cheaper, online paper dip tests, we can know find out we’re pregnant earlier than ever.
And that’s lovely. Except…
… where once we might have unknowingly miscarried without even realising we were pregnant (just thinking we were having a heavy period), now we know.
And, as miscarriages tend to happen most frequently in the 1st few weeks of pregnancy, that’s probably an awful lot more of us knowing.
And – taken together with the much-needed, taboo-breaking, social-media-driven increase in women talking about their miscarriages – an awful lot more of us hearing about how frequently miscarriages can happen.
Which can makes us all more nervous and worried about it happening to us.
And explains which private early pregnancy scans are selling so well. As Zoe S told us on Facebook, “I lost a baby and it was heartbreaking. So I when I fell pregnant again a few months later, I had an early scan at 9 weeks. It was worth it for me as I was making myself sick with worry and could hardly eat.”
It also means we’re using pregnancy tests differently – not just to confirm we’re pregnant but also to confirm we’re still pregnant. In a recent survey we’ve carried out here at MadeForMums, we found that 78% of pregnant women say they’re testing more than that once time to confirm their pregnancy, and 22% are testing more than 5 times.
4. There are more older mums – and families are getting smaller
For the first time ever in the UK, over-40s are the only age group which has a growing pregnancy rate, according to the Office For National Statistics. In 1990 there were 12,032 new mums over 40, compared with 28,744 in 2016.
BUT there were 696,271 live births in the UK that year in total, meaning the babies born to mums in their 40s were very much in the minority – so it’s not true that mums in general are getting older.
One trend that is happening for sure though is that the number of families with an only child has increased 12% over the last 11 years.
In just 3 years’ time, it’s thought that 50% of all families in the UK will be 1-child families.
5. There’s more openness around childbirth, however it happens
One Born Every Minute first aired in February 2010, and brought the reality of labour (and how different it is for everyone) into our living rooms.
Expectant parents saw that having a baby happens in all sorts of ways: vaginally, via C-section, in a water bath, at home, in hospital, quickly, slowly – ad infinitum…
Partly with this in mind, in 2017 the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) dropped its 12-year ‘normal birth’ campaign to reduce the number of Caesareans, and births using epidurals, inductions and other instruments.
They admitted that using the phrase ‘normal birth’ in this way might have caused women to feel like failures if they had anything other than a ‘natural’ birth.
In recent years, we’ve seen mums speaking out in particular about C-sections, sharing their scars and calling others out when they suggested a Caesarean was anything less than giving birth.
One mum commenting on social media said: “I had to have an emergency C-section with my first. It took a long time to come to terms with it. I read too many comments on stupid blogs from judgey people saying that women like me hadn’t given birth, we’d had our babies surgically removed, and other bullsh*t, like we don’t bond with our babies as well as women who’d had natural births.”
6. Midwives are supporting our decisions about how we feed our babies
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that we exclusively breastfeed our babies for at least their first 6 months. But we know that not everyone can manage this – for all number of reasons.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) still, quite rightly, backs the WHO recommendations but, crucially, in June 2018, they told their midwives that, “if, after being given information and support on breastfeeding, a woman chooses not to do so, or to give formula as well as breastfeeding, her choice must be respected…”.
So, gone are the days when the well-intentioned but sometimes upsettingly sweeping ‘breast is best’ slogan had to be repeated to all of us, whatever our feeding choices and circumstances. And, whether we’re breastfeeders or formula-feeders or mixed-feeders, we all welcome that.
Because we don’t want any more mums to feel like Sandy S did. She posted on our Facebook page: “I wanted to breastfeed both my children but for reasons beyond my control I couldn’t feed either of them.
“I was upset and felt like a bad mum. We need to stop judging each other and support one another. My children aren’t less loved and we still have a special bond between us.”
7. Pregnancy and post-pregnancy bodies are way more on show
Celebs, influencers and ‘regular’ mums have taken to social media (now way bigger than it was 10 years ago) to share pictures of their pregnancy and post-pregnancy bodies.
We’ve seen big pregnancy bumps as well as barely-there ones, post-birth shots with giant absorbent knickers on display, tummy pouches and ‘tiger stripe’ stretch marks.
And what does it all mean? That if you bounce back after pregnancy, great! If you have a saggy belly or C-section scar, so be it: they helped make your baby.
These pictures have shown every kind of pregnant woman and new mum in the raw. And we’ve loved them all for their honesty.
8. Eco-parenting is becoming BIG business
The world in general (we know there are some exceptions) seems to be awakening to the fact that we need to start being more eco-friendly if our planet is to survive much longer.
We now know it could take several lifetimes for even a ‘biodegradable’ nappy to fully decompose on its own. And so interest in reusable nappies seems to be growing– as well as a trend for other sustainable baby products.
Another growing business is veganism: according to research carried out by Vegan Life and the Vegan Society, more than half a million of us are now vegan – an increase of 350% over the past 10 years.
How this is reflected in the world of parenting is yet to fully pan out. But make-up founder Kat Von D (pictured) recently caused division when she said she’d be raising her son vegan, with some commenting that she should let him make that decision when he was older.
9. We celebrate pregnancy with more events
Of course, pregnancy has been a cause for celebration for many years, but now it seems to be celebrated in a bigger way with family and friends even more.
Gender-reveal parties have now moved over from the US to become a thing here in the UK as have gender-reveal scans – if you’re finding out your baby’s sex of course. Parents-to-be are eager to share their news with loved ones, often posting their gender-reveal moment on social media, using all manner of new gender-reveal products to make their announcement creative and special.
And baby showers seem to be bigger than ever, too: now they’re more of a a definite than a maybe. And that absolutely wasn’t the case 10 years ago.
10. Our kids are swiping before they can talk
Everything we’ve mentioned so far has focused pretty much on pre-baby life. But once they’re out in the world, it’s not long at all until they’re surrounded with technology.
From the baby monitor watching them as they sleep to the Alexa, iPhones, and tablets in the home (it’s 10 years this year since the iPad launched), we live in a tech world and your baby will be swiping the TV in no time.
There’s no stopping it but how much you expose your child to it and let them use it for fun or learning is up to you.
WHO recently came out with guidelines recommending that under 2s should have NO screen time at all (TV, tablets, phones etc) and only an hour a day from the age of 2 until 4 – though UK experts were quick to point out there is little evidence that screen time is harmful in itself and the WHO recommendations “do not help to clarify the situation”.
What’s for sure though is that technology in many forms is going to be part and parcel of our children’s lives from a young age: be prepared!