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She regrets becoming a popular mom influencer. Now she’s explaining why she quit

"I don’t want you to buy anything. I just want you to have a happier life, and I think that happier life exists offline.”

Lynzy Coughlin had four children, a career as a physician assistant, a Connecticut home ... and 500,000 Instagram followers. But in December 2021, this "momfluencer" deleted her Instagram account for good.

"I lit my whole brand on fire," she tells unapologetically.

Three years later, Coughlin detailed her decision to leave Instagram in a newsletter for her paid subscribers. In it, she included a list of regrets, such as:

  • I regret making mothers feel like they needed some new contraption (like a new bouncer or Diaper Genie) to make life easier.
  • I regret participating in an industry that values mothers primarily for their looks and bodies rather than their skills and experiences.
  • I regret ever sharing my children in an online space.

"It has taken me a very, very long time to deconstruct my experience online," says Coughlin.

"Once I became a mom, I realized how incredibly messed up our supportive system here in America was for mothers, and I just wanted to fill that void. And what I discovered was that ultimately I don't think what I was doing was filling anyone's void. It was actually more detrimental."

Former momfluencers shouldn't necessarily blame themselves, says Sara Petersen, author of "Momfluenced: Inside the Maddening, Picture-Perfect World of Mommy Influencer Culture."

"People can absolutely be negatively psychologically impacted by momfluencer culture," she says, but adds, "This isn’t necessarily the fault of any individual momfluencer, but reveals how intertwined capitalism and gender are in the U.S. specifically."

Lynzy Coughlin has four children between the ages of 3 and 10. Now that she is no longer an Instagram influencer, she says she has more time to spend with them.
Lynzy Coughlin has four children between the ages of 3 and 10. Now that she is no longer an Instagram influencer, she says she has more time to spend with them.Courtesy Catherine King Photography

The rise of @lynzyandco

Coughlin originally started a blog in 2008. She was working in the emergency room, and randomly posting thoughts or photos online became a hobby that counterbalanced her work stress.

She taught herself HTML coding and how to use a DSLR camera. "It was just this fun little side project," she says. "I wasn't making any money from the blog at all."

Then she became a mother and saw a need for an online community. She moved from her blog to Instagram, began talking about breastfeeding and started a hashtag campaign called #latenightnursingfeed. Every night she would post a picture, along with a prompt for other breastfeeding mothers. The prompt might be something like, “Share something valuable about your first weeks postpartum.”

The time I was putting into my brand ... made me grow, but it was at the expense of the things that are most important to me, like my family.”

Lynzy Coughlin, former influencer

"And that's where my account (@lynzyandco) really started to grow," Coughlin says. "It was cultivating this online community where moms could go and feel less alone, especially during those wee hours of the night."

Eventually, Coughlin, who says she has "always been into style," began sharing links to products she loved. She would earn a commission when someone would purchase a product with her link.

"Instagram influencing highly depends on consumerism," Coughlin says. If you wanted to "grow as a brand," she says, you had to "conform to the algorithm," and post multiple times a day.

Petersen agrees, "The algorithm rewards constant connectivity and heavy usage, and it punishes influencers for taking time off."

Soon, Coughlin was maxed out. "I was absolutely overwhelmed with the amount of time and effort I was putting into my brand and my business. And absolutely it made me grow, but it was at the expense of the things that are most important to me, like my family and my time and my solitude."

The peak of popularity

Coughlin hit the peak of her followers in 2019, but she lost almost 100,000 followers during the 2020 pandemic when she started sharing science-based evidence about the disease and its vaccine. She says she is "forever grateful" for the loss because it helped her realize how "toxic" her relationship with Instagram really was.

"I think it's really hard to say that," Coughlin shares, "and it's hard to figure out where to go from there, especially when you've been building a business for so many years."

To transition away from the platform, Coughlin began taking "breaks" from Instagram throughout 2021. She left completely that December.

But she didn't just sign off and disappear.

"I had prepared for it," Coughlin says. "I wanted to be clear why I had started my brand and how I would continue to reach mothers outside of social media. I just wanted to take out the toxic part, throw it away and leave what was really good."

What did it feel like to actually delete @lynzyandco from Instagram?

"It felt like this sigh of relief," Coughlin says. "It was finally over. Honestly, I felt like I could finally breathe. I don't feel tied to my phone. I'm not constantly checking things. I'm not constantly responding to people. I now have significant boundaries when it comes to people having access to me, and I'm able to give all of that time and energy back to my family, which is the most important thing." reached out to Instagram for comment on this story, but did not get a response at the time of publication.

The perks of influencing

Not everything about being an influencer was negative.

“I learned new things, like how to use new technology. I was exercising my creative brain. I was meeting new people. I had the flexibility of working from home,” Coughlin says. 

And, of course, there’s the money.

Petersen says that income derived from being an influencer can vary widely. Smaller influencers can make $5,000 per post; influencers working with bigger companies can make up to $20,000 per post.

Coughlin, who had been making money on Instagram through partnerships and affiliate links, says that “income is the only thing I lost, and I don’t care about that.” But she recognizes that not every influencer has that luxury.

“I have my master’s degree and I’m able to work in the hospital. Of course, that money is not anything compared to what I was making as an influencer, but I do have the privilege of saying I have a backup plan.”

Life after Instagram

Coughlin now sends a weekly newsletter and hosts the "Motherhood Meets Medicine" podcast, interviewing medical experts about parenting topics.

In her current newsletter, Coughlin still shares links to clothing and products she loves, but now followers can browse at their leisure if they decide to. Her goal is to allow them to peruse information slowly. She no longer works with brands for her newsletter.

Other momfluencers are following a similar path, Petersen says: not disappearing altogether, but finding other ways to express themselves.

"The pressure influencers feel to always be online and the fact that their livelihoods are contingent on ever-changing algorithmic standards and big tech companies who want to make as much money as possible from their work has led some to pursue other outlets as a way to protect themselves," Petersen says. "Many momfluencers I interviewed mentioned starting podcasts, newsletters, or hosting old-school blogs in order to have more ownership of their work."

One of Coughlin's biggest regrets is sharing her children's images and lives online.

She once received an email from a follower who saw framed photos of Coughlin's children as part of the staging in a California housing development.

"When I tell you I had legit fire coming out of my ears," Coughlin says. She contacted employees of the development company, who were "incredibly apologetic" and immediately removed the photos.

She laughs that she is now the mom who clicks "Do not share photos of my child" for sports or school.

Moving forward ... and offline

Coughlin is telling her story in the hope that it will encourage others to take stock of their own social media usage and how it benefits — or damages — their lives.

She says that Instagram preys on moms, especially new moms, and Coughlin regrets any role she may have played in that.

"I would love to be the reason why some people end up leaving social media. If I could influence them on one thing, that would be the thing. I don't want you to buy anything. I just want you to have a happier life, and I think that happier life exists offline."