Just a click away : first-time mothers’ invisible presence using social networking sites

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Gail M. C. Elliott (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Susan Letvak

Abstract: The early postpartum period, defined as the first 12 weeks following delivery and professionally referred to as the fourth trimester, is an important transition timeframe for new mothers. It has been identified as an overlooked time period lacking sufficient healthcare support for mothers in the United States (U.S.). (Tully et al., 2017; Verbiest et al., 2018). Support for first-time mothers, in particular, is critical in the early postpartum period as they navigate many time-sensitive challenges, the outcomes of which can have a lasting impact on both maternal and infant wellbeing. For first-time mothers, social networking sites (SNSs) have been identified in peer-reviewed literature as an effective and increasingly popular way for mothers to connect virtually (Archer & Kao, 2018; Djafarova & Trofimenko, 2017; Schoppe-Sullivan et al., 2017). SNSs provide a unique avenue to connect mothers to other mothers (Aston et al., 2018; Price et al., 2018), yet their impact on maternal support in the fourth trimester is relatively unexplored. And, although mothers are highly active users of SNSs (Baker & Yang, 2018), research studies with samples of exclusively first-time mothers are limited. The purpose of this study was to describe first-time mothers’ experiences with online SNSs in the fourth trimester, to explore how mothers use SNSs to gain support, and to evaluate how SNSs aid or hinder the maternal role transition. A qualitative descriptive approach was used; recruitment was conducted primarily through Facebook and Instagram. Twelve first-time mothers ranging from 4 to 12 weeks postpartum participated in this study. Data collection involved individual semi-structured interviews, guided by Transition Theory (Meleis et al., 2000), on Zoom that were audio-recorded and transcribed. Interview transcripts were completely coded and inductively analyzed using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2013). Codes were clustered according to their associated content. Ultimately four themes were developed that describe how these first-time mothers were using SNS, what they were using it for, who they preferred as their online source, and the impact that SNSs had on them as mothers. The themes include 1: Habits of First-Time Moms Using SNSs; 2: New Purpose Online; 3: Taking it to the Moms; and 4: Impact on Motherhood. Study findings revealed that first-time mothers are avid users of online social networking sites. Though their presence may seem invisible since they rarely post or comment on SNSs, they regularly consume incredible amounts of knowledge that is newly relevant to their maternal identity. As savvy users of online networking, they actively curated their feeds to create a passive flow of information. The easily accessible collective of fellow mothers was identified as a source of camaraderie and support in these early days of motherhood; they offered an orientation to motherhood. And while there were negative associations identified online, overall, SNSs appeared to make new motherhood easier. Maternal child nurses have opportunities to further customize support for first-time mothers online. Awareness of habits, trends, and the role SNSs can play in supporting mothers in the early postpartum transitional period are ways to support and empower the existing motherhood collective. Nurses can connect interested clients with relevant online groups for easily accessible support and socialization. Future opportunities exist for nurses in the provision of online education and support by carefully tailoring their online messaging in a way that would be seen as supportive of new mothers.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2021
Maternal, Mother, Nursing, Postpartum, Social media, Social networking
New mothers
Postnatal care
Online social networks

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