Press release

Bumpbook – are mums sharing the right information?

The Department of Health distributes two million free booklets to support mums and give them the right information during pregnancy

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Findings from a joint survey from parenting site Netmums and the Department of Health’s Start4Life campaign have lifted the lid on the growing trends around how mums-to-be are sharing their pregnancies online.

Where once posting a picture of a scan was considered unusual, now nearly 90 per cent of mothers have seen an image from a friend’s scan, and trends for even more creative ways of sharing a pregnancy are growing:

  • Nearly a third (32 per cent) have seen a shared professional pregnancy photo-shoot;
  • More than a quarter (28 per cent) have seen a picture of a body-painted bump; and
  • A fifth (22 per cent) have viewed a photo of a positive pregnancy test.

A great deal of support is also available amongst mothers; almost half of those surveyed (44 per cent) think it’s nice for their pregnant friends to share information, and many see Facebook as a place to share advice and seek help. More than three quarters of women (77 per cent) are keen to be of help online, responding to friends’ enquiries if they think they can help with a question or concern about pregnancy.

However, whilst the trend for sharing pregnancy information is growing fast, more than four in ten (44 per cent) respondents said they felt that people are beginning to over-share. Nearly seven in ten (68 per cent) felt that on Facebook, mothers-to-be were more likely to try to show a ‘perfect’ pregnancy than a realistic one - with more than two in five (45 per cent) going as far to say that the site increases the sense you’re a failure if you don’t have a ‘perfect’ pregnancy.

Many also believe Facebook can be a force for good when it comes to support around important issues - a huge 81 per cent think it would be a positive thing if mums were to talk more about their health, as three in five (62 per cent) said that they felt friends were more likely to talk about trivial aspects of their pregnancy, rather than important matters such as their health.

In response, Start4Life is this month urging mums-to-be to share information about their health and the steps they’re taking to give their babies the best possible start in life, both online and offline.

Start4Life, the little sister brand to Change4Life, has launched a free booklet for all pregnant mums to help them keep healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond by moving more, eating healthily, giving up smoking and avoiding alcohol.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:

“Staying healthy in pregnancy is vital to give babies the best possible start in life. We want to do everything we can to reach out to pregnant women and help them live the healthiest lifestyles they can.

“These new materials from Start4Life simplify the information out there and provide clear advice on the importance of a healthy pregnancy. The sheer volume of information available to pregnant women - on Facebook and elsewhere - can make it hard to find the best advice. Start4Life will help them to take simple steps to stay healthy for themselves and their baby.”

Start4Life ambassador, Dr Dawn Harper, GP and television presenter said:

“Many think of Facebook as a place to share pictures of bumps and tales of cravings, so it’s encouraging to see that many mothers think it would be better used to discuss matters such as health, and are keen to offer support to other mothers.

“However to do the best job at this, it’s important we’re well informed, and Start4Life is a brilliant one stop shop that can answer all the questions on pregnancy you, or your Facebook friends, may have.”

The new Start4Life booklets are available to all pregnant women through their GPs and midwives and contain space for mothers-to-be to enter personal details including their midwife’s name and number, their baby’s first scan and questions for future appointments. In addition, there are also healthy recipes and tips, myth busters and exercise suggestions. The information is also available online on the Start4Life website.

Siobhan Freegard, Netmums founder said:

“The internet is often a source of support and advice for mums and mums-to-be, but the relationship many have with Facebook can be complex. Whilst lots of mums enjoy sharing information and offering advice, new trends and the desire to show the best possible image to the world can mean that many mums feel the site piles on the pressure.

“It’s never good to worry too much about what people think, and so instead we encourage mums to make the most out of the support available from other mums online and initiatives such as Start4Life.”

Notes to editors

Start4Life and Netmums poll carried out November 2012 with 2019 Netmums members who are members of Facebook The information can also be found on the Start4Life website.  Example tips from the materials include: * Feeling extra peckish? A snack is fine, just steer clear of crisps, sweets and chocolates, which are high in fat and sugar. Try some fruit, a calcium-packed low-fat yoghurt or even beans on toast next time you need a snack-fix. You’ll feel fuller for longer and less tempted to reach for junk food. * To get into the habit of taking your supplements regularly, keep them somewhere you’ll see them each day. What about by your toothbrush,__ __so you’ll remember to take them each morning or evening? It’ll be part of your daily routine in no time. * _We know quitting isn’t easy, but you can do it. Ask your health visitor or doctor for help, visit or call the NHS Pregnancy Smoking Helpline on 0800 169 9169. They’re not there to judge; they just want to help you decide how to quit on your terms.

Published 15 December 2012