Researchers believe that local online forums could play a key role in helping new mothers to share experiences and concerns, according to a study published in the January issue of the UK-based Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Professor Wendy Hall from the University of British Columbia and Assistant Professor Valerie Irvine from the University of Victoria, Canada, studied online communication threads between a group of 40 women, who had all given birth in the same year and joined a local forum based in a moderate-sized Canadian city.
They concluded that these forums could provide a viable alternative to face-to-face groups, especially in rural communities where travel and professional support are limited.
As a result of the study, the researchers are encouraging healthcare professionals to help mothers with young children to set up, or access, similar community-based networks as they believe they offer more tailored support than existing corporate web-based forums with unlimited international access.
But they have warned that there is a danger that women-only forums can marginalise fathers and that if fathers are not actively involved in discussions about childcare this could pose particular problems for working mothers.
"The 12 women who initially set up the forum met while they were attending parent education classes" explains Professor Hall. "They invited a community health nurse to monitor their communications and correct any information that was wrong."
New members were then invited by word of mouth.
The 40 women who took part in the study gave the researchers permission to monitor their archived posts, which covered a one-year period. They were highly educated, with an average age of 36. The group included pregnant women as well as the mothers of babies up to 11 months of age. Eight out of ten were married and 88 per cent had above average incomes. Sixty-one per cent were employed outs
|Contact: Annette Whibley|