“Am I doing this wrong?” Breastfeeding mothers' use of an online forum

Cynthia N. Lebron, Sara M. St. George, Daphne G. Eckembrecher, Lucia M. Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

As mothers seek out information around breastfeeding, many are turning to online message boards, listservs, or social media for advice. Babycenter.com, a parenting website with widespread use, hosts a Breastfeeding Support and Help community forum with over 140,000 users and more than one million conversation threads. The purpose of this study is to examine this online support forum to understand the information seeking and sharing practices of its users. We extracted a total of 258 original posts and 1,445 corresponding comments from Babycenter.com's breastfeeding forum posted over a 10-day period. Using content analysis, we coded the posts into 15 categories reflective of the types of information users were seeking. We then randomly selected 45 conversation threads across the most popular categories to further understand how users were sharing information. The most popular breastfeeding topics for which users sought out information included feeding challenges, supply issues, feeding schedule and duration, pumping, physical health, excretion issues, storing milk, nipple issues, and general breastfeeding questions. Participants elicited information from others using interviewing questions and built consensus around issues by agreeing with previous posts. They shared their knowledge and personal breastfeeding experiences and also provided encouragement to continue breastfeeding and overcome challenges. Online support forums are actively being used by breastfeeding mothers seeking information from others with similar experiences. This presents an important resource for breastfeeding mothers and may, therefore, be an important component of future breastfeeding interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12890
JournalMaternal and Child Nutrition
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019

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Keywords

  • breastfeeding confidence
  • breastfeeding duration
  • breastfeeding knowledge
  • breastfeeding promotion
  • breastfeeding support
  • qualitative methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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