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Exploring the motivations and experiences of women seeking online breastfeeding support: reassurance and shared experience versus judgement and misinformation.

08:00 EDT 12th July 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Exploring the motivations and experiences of women seeking online breastfeeding support: reassurance and shared experience versus judgement and misinformation."

Breastfeeding support is integral to many women's successful breastfeeding experiences. However cuts to professional and peer support services, distance from family, and a predominant formula feeding culture mean that many women in the UK do not receive the support they need. Turning to online support is an increasingly popular means of gaining both informational and emotional support but research into online breastfeeding support groups is sparse in the UK. Data from Australia and the USA tends to focus on the positives: women value such groups, finding information, reassurance and a feeling of belonging. This study explored 14 women's experiences of using online support for breastfeeding in the UK, using semi structured interviews to understand their motivations, positive and negative experiences. Mothers were drawn to online support due to a lack of professional, familial and partner support. Online support was reassuring, empathetic and available around the clock, and less daunting than attending a face-to-face group. Many attributed their continued breastfeeding to the support they received. However women also experienced negativities: judgement for using formula, polarised debate and a lack of regulation meaning that unhelpful information was sometimes posted. The findings have important implications for those working to support mothers. These groups provide a safe space for breastfeeding mothers but moderation is needed of such groups to ensure information is accurate and debate respectful. Online support groups are currently plugging a gap in funded support; they should be in addition not in replacement to professional and trained peer support services.

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Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: Maternal & child nutrition
ISSN: 1740-8709
Pages: e12874

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