Baby pictures clogging up your Facebook feed could signal a new mom on a risky search for approval, according to a study of 127 working moms from Ohio. The fact that 98% uploaded photos of their baby to Facebook wasn't surprising. What interested researchers, however, was that those who posted photos and updates most often felt pressure to be a perfect mom, sought validation, and considered motherhood to be an important part of their identity, reports Mashable. A key indicator was using a baby photo as a profile picture—which almost 80% of study participants did. These women "felt validated when they got a lot of 'likes' and comments, but they were also more likely to feel bad and disappointed when the reaction wasn't what they had hoped," a researcher explains in a release.
Sounds pretty harmless, right? Well, those same women were also more likely to experience "elevated levels of depressive symptoms" like restless sleep and a low appetite nine months after giving birth, co-author Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan tells WOSU. That doesn't mean new moms should steer clear of Facebook, which can help them find advice and support. But if a woman "doesn't get all the 'likes' and positive comments she expects, that could be a problem. She may end up feeling worse," Schoppe-Sullivan says. Because the study focused on highly educated working women who were predominantly white and married, the results might not be universal. But Schoppe-Sullivan stresses one point: "It's great to share stories and pictures of your baby, but relying on Facebook to feel good about your parenting may be risky." (Here's what insecure people post on Facebook.)