We're so used to scrolling and receiving our news and information very quickly and in bitesized chunks., but is this helpful? Do we get all the information we need? Is it even true? We asked 450 of our social media followers whether they had been scared by headlines they read during their pregnancy and 89% said yes. We are going to talk about some of the ways you can manage anxiety around news headlines and provide some tips for putting the information into perspective.
1. Try to put the headline into context
It’s impossible to get all the information you need from a short, attention-grabbing sentence. If you scroll past an Instagram post with a screenshot of an article, try not to just read the headline and caption. Go to the article and have a read for yourself. People are keen to share snippets of articles that allow them to push their own ideas about a topic. Always try to access the whole article or even better, the specific report or piece of evidence the headline refers to.
2. Be wary of statistics
Percentages can be misleading and news providers love them for this reason! 50% of women can mean 5 women in total or it can be 500. When something doubles in risk, this could mean a 0.006% higher risk or a 60% higher risk. It’s very difficult to put things like risk into context without understanding more information about where the stats come from and what data they refer to.
3. Where is this info coming from?
Sometimes news stories can have a hidden agenda, based on who wrote it. Think about who the quotes are from and whether the article has a supportive or very critical tone. Not all articles will be balanced in their representation of information and it’s important to recognise that this may affect the takeway message.
Try to find trusted sources like the NHS, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives, who often release news stories in response to items being released in the media. Also try to find more than one source, so you can compare the info being given.
4. Is the info evidence based?
Pregnancy information should be evidence based. Watch our video.
Is the headline backed up by good evidence? Does the article include links to the actual research? Are there quotes from health professionals?
5. Remember that there are two sides to every story
Articles often use quotes from ‘real people’ to make their content more interesting, but if these people all seem to back up one opinion, remember there are others out there who probably feel differently. When it comes to pregnancy, everyone’s experience is different and no two pregnancies are the same.
6. Identify a friend you can trust to talk things over with
Find that one person who you can talk to that always helps give you some perspective (and makes you feel better). Some friends are good at putting things into context and easing our minds. If you see an alarming article, talk to them about it. This may help you get some perspective.
7. Unfollow accounts that are not healthy for you
It’s okay to unfollow. People have different opinions and some may be more helpful to your mental wellbeing than others.
8. Leave the comments section
The ‘comments’ section can be a dark place in social media. News articles are often controversial and comments allow sometimes frightened, angry and frustrated people to voice their concerns. It can be very alarming to read some of these when they refer to topics relating to you and your pregnancy. People also sometimes try to help others by posting information from unreliable sources but frame it as fact. If you see a worrying post or article, try to go direct to the source rather than start cruising the comments for further info.
9. Limit your news intake generally – turn off alerts
During the current circumstances, it’s important to keep up to date with news, but it can be very damaging to our mental wellbeing to consume too much. Alerts on your phone can feel very intrusive and lead to high anxiety. Try setting a time of day to watch the news or check your news app, that way you can work it into your normal routine. It may feel more manageable and allow you to switch off.
And finally, the most important one…
10. Ask your midwife
if you see ANY articles you are concerned about, speak to your midwife. They can give you objective and credible information relating to your personal circumstances. No worry is too small to run past them, they are there to support and reassure you as well as answer any questions you have.
We're here to support you
Although we've had to temporarily close our support line as our midwives have moved to homeworking, our Tommy's midwives are still here to support you.
We are working hard to provide the best support and information we can during a time of extra anxiety and worry for pregnant women and their families.
Watch out for updates and contact us on the following platforms:
If you have non-urgent questions, we have developed Tommy's Midwife, a skill for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa that answers many pregnancy queries, including some about COVID-19.
Read more about the Tommy's Midwife Alexa skill here