FOMOM, the Fear Of Missing Out on Motherhood


FOMO, or fear of missing out, is one of the major downsides to a hyperconnected life. When you’re scrolling on your laptop on a night in and see pic after pic of wild nights out or glamorous vacation shots, it’s easy to wonder if everyone else is having a better time. If that envious flutter comes when you see babies snoozing or dribbling mashed avocado down their chubby chins, you may have fear of missing out on motherhood, or FOMOM.

When You Have FOMOM

“But I don’t even know if I want kids at all!” you may say. It’s not uncommon to feel ambivalent about motherhood. Much of Western culture offers conflicting ideas. Motherhood is described as rewarding, but lonely, the most important job of all, or something to balance along with a high-earning career. Add in pressure to “have a family of your own” or “give us grandkids” and it can be hard to separate family expectations from your true desires.

While some women relish their status as a PANK (professional aunt, no kids) and others eagerly anticipate holding their newborn, others may worry that they’ll never know for sure whether they want a baby.

FOMOM isn’t necessarily a “fear,” per se. It often includes a blend of unease, fascination, and doubt. Even women who know they want kids may feel unsure of whether they’ll make a good mother. Babies are notorious for changing everything. FOMOM may tug you between cooing over baby pictures and wondering how you’d manage to keep something more complex than a plant alive.

If FOMOM comes in fleeting, occasional moments, don’t necessarily interpret it as a sign to get pregnant immediately. If you suspect your hesitation toward babies is more “not yet” than “not ever,” there are a few things you can do long before getting pregnant. Stay healthy and inform yourself about any potential medical risks of delaying having a baby. Taking good care of yourself now may help you get pregnant more easily if you decide it’s the right time to have a baby later.

When a Friend Has FOMOM

It’s increasingly common to see articles urging people to think twice before asking personal questions. Seemingly innocuous questions like, “How many kids do you have?” can be painful for couples dealing with fertility struggles or pregnancy or child loss. Especially now that many of us connect with a wide social media network, “just one” intrusive question or unwanted baby photo can actually be part of an ongoing, overwhelming wave.

This doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate–or complain about–your pregnancy. But you may want to consider taking a little extra care with how you talk about it, starting with your pregnancy announcement. A FOMOM friend may appreciate being told ahead of a public Facebook announcement, so she hears directly from you. Ask if there are any topics that are particularly sensitive, and spend some quality time discussing topics that have nothing to do with breastfeeding vs. formula or nursery decorating. You may find it’s a relief to discuss non-baby interests and hobbies!

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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