U of A family doctor offers evidence-based mom blog

Life of Dr. Mom aims to feel like Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, with one notable exception-it's rooted in fact, says Stephanie Liu.

In light of the overabundance of mom blogs with questionable content, one University of Alberta family physician decided to offer women an alternative and start up her own mom blog called Life of Dr. Mom.

"There is some very serious misinformation on mom blogs that can cause harm to mom and baby if not rooted in evidence-based science," said Stephanie Liu.

One example she recalls reading when she was pregnant with now two-year-old Madeleine is a mom blog that claimed sleep training is dangerous and can cause attachment disorder and ADHD later in life.

"I can tell you based on research that there are no studies on sleep training damaging a child's mental health," she said.

There is also no research on mom blogs themselves, and whether the comfort and advice women find from them may also have negative consequences, said Liu.

However, there is plenty of information about how to work with advertisers to monetize mom blogs-which adds another potential red herring to the accuracy of the content, she noted.

Estimates suggest there are 4,000 mom bloggers in Canada and 4.4 million in the United States.

"As I am hearing from women more and more, I am discovering just how little is well known about baby health. And moms will turn to a blog where they can ask questions and feel like they are having a conversation with someone they know more than they will read a handout from their physician. There's a tremendous need for more evidence-based mom blogs like mine."

It was a few years after giving birth that Liu found time between her family practice and her work at the U of A Hospital to actually start up a blog.

"By then I was really desperate to do it. I'd been reading blogs and the misinformation drove me crazy," she said.

Her husband, head and neck surgeon Graeme Mulholland, was offered training in Atlanta for a year, and the family packed up and moved south. While there, Liu met Suzanne Black, a psychiatry resident with an interest in advocating for mental wellness and experience in developing web platforms.

The mom blog was launched shortly thereafter, three months ago.

Life of Dr. Mom is designed to draw in readers with beautiful photography and offer content that is rooted in studies published by credible sources.

For example, a recent post on anxiety and motherhood contains a wealth of proven tips to help stave off anxiety.

"I'm just starting to consider marketing, although I have growing interest in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with more than 2,100 followers in just 10 weeks," she said.

Liu is not sure how she'll swing back into work mode, but she does plan to both practice and blog because she's "in love with blogging.

"It would be my dream to reach as many moms as Goop does, while providing credible advice," said Liu about the popular lifestyle website offering articles about health and wellness that are often not founded in evidence-based medical information.

For now, she admits she's still working on getting over patients knowing her personally.

"But if it helps them not feel alone when they're struggling with breastfeeding, for example-something I totally underestimated until I gave birth-then I'm happy to do it."