Online social support group use by breastfeeding mothers: a content analysis

Wagg, A., Callanan, M. and Hassett, A. (2019) Online social support group use by breastfeeding mothers: a content analysis. Heliyon, 5 (3).

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Background: Breastfeeding is a public health priority and lack of breastfeeding support a contributing factor to the low initiation and continuation rates in the UK. Online social support group are being increasingly utilised by breastfeeding mothers and research into this phenomenon is only now emerging.

Aim: To document and describe the posts made within an online breastfeeding support group.

Method: The posts made to an online breastfeeding support group between the 1st and 7th November 2016 were recorded using an unobtrusive non-participant design, and subject to systematic message content analysis. Themes related to topics of discussion were deduced from the data and concepts of social support used to analyse the data.

Results: The group received 501 posts over the week (m=72, range 20-93 a day) and was accessed 24 hours a day. Eighty-two percent received comments (m=12, range 0-415, SD=24) and 93% received likes (m=11, range 0-641, SD=42). The group was used from pregnancy and until the child was over 2 years old. The majority of infants discussed were age 6 weeks to 6 months old. Informational support was the greatest reason for use (65%) followed by esteem support (18%) and emotional support (10%). Thirteen topics of conversation were identified.

Conclusion: Mothers are using online social support groups in their thousands to seek information from people in similar situations. Not only do they pose questions but they discuss a range of parenting and breastfeeding topics in an environment that aims to support and facilitate responses. The impact of this support avenue within the wider context of professional, family, and offline support warrants further investigation through a qualitative approach.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Heliyon is an open access journal
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics > RG0551 Pregnancy > RG0940 Maternal care. Prenatal care services
Divisions: Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > School of Psychology, Politics and Sociology > Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Margie Callanan
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2019 11:03
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2019 13:45

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00