Real talk, guys: There is nothing in the world more insufferable than a mother-to-be on social media. From the onslaught of new baby selfies in your News feed to countless status updates about baby diaper rashes and yeast infections and merconiums (that’s baby’s first poop for all you non-mamas out there), it’s easy for the childless to become frustrated with new mothers on social media, and the converse certainly applies as well.
That’s why one Russian company is betting that new mothers want a social network of their very own. Preggie, a new app for iOS (the developers are working on a version for Android), connects pregnant women based on their due date, interests, and location. All users have to do is enter their username and the week of pregnancy they’re in and they can connect with soon-to-be mothers, either in their area or in another country.
Preggie was launched by the co-founders of Babyblog.ru, a social network for mothers in Russia. Sergey Shenderov and his partner Andrei Solovyev launched Babyblog after Solovyev's wife became pregnant with their first child. He observed that she would often Google various physical sensations she was feeling or cravings she was having, to see if other pregnant women were having similar experiences.
For first-time mothers, “their friends are the primary source of information,” rather than doctors or baby books, Shenderov explained when I spoke with the Preggie team via Skype. “After we had our first child, I found my wife mistrusting a lot of theoretical stuff she’d read in baby books. New mothers want first hand information from people who have been through this situation before.”
Since Babyblog.ru launched, it now has 12 million monthly users. But the website is only available in Russian; it also has more of a local focus, so mothers in the same area can meet up. Preggie, however, is being launched internationally and in six different languages, so expecting mothers from all over the world can unite over their shared experiences.
The idea of using technology to unite new mothers is certainly nothing new. Pregnancy “diaries” and nutrition-tracking apps like Sprout, I’m Expecting, and My Pregnancy Calendar are popular among new mothers. But the founders of Preggie say the idea of a social network exclusively for mothers is basically unprecedented. It’s also, Shenderov says, necessary.
“What we have observed in our Internet resource in Russia is that women between 18 and 45 seek exclusion from friends who are not related to these conversations,” he says. “We’re seeing quite a few men use it as an information source, but they’re not part of the social network. Women are looking for a gender and demographic-specific social space, without their husbands or male friends.”
Part of the reason why soon-to-be mothers want a social space for themselves is because many find it difficult to relate to friends who are not pregnant, and vice versa. “When a woman becomes pregnant, it changes her understanding of the world completely,” says Preggie marketing director Kristina Lapteva. A platform like Preggie “is a world where women have their own concerns and rules.”
As anyone who has spent any time on mommy blogs knows, that world is not necessarily that friendly. (Try telling a woman who doesn’t breast-feed that she should breast-feed and see what happens.) Shenderov says he witnessed few of those arguments on babyblog.ru, but now that Preggie is launching in an international space, it’s likely it’ll play host to many similar debates.
Because the app has only been available for a few days, as yet it’s unclear whether these sorts of divisive discussions have already started brewing on the platform. Either way, it’s impossible to say for sure: Preggie seems to have few users at this point, and most of them speak only Russian. It’s also unclear whether Preggie is catering exclusively to biological women who are pregnant, or whether the platform is open to other types of expectant parents as well, such as gay couples, trans men, or parents using surrogates.
Currently, the platform uses only female-bodied language, though Shenderov says he would like it to be an “all-inclusive platform for anyone who needs it.” But if you’re a pregnant, female-bodied, Russian-speaking woman, and you want to know if your craving for chocolate-covered Buffalo wings is normal, Preggie’s community of soon-to-be mommies is there for you.
Update: We previously reported that Babyblog.ru had seven million monthly users. It actually has 12 million.