Participating in birth trauma Facebook groups: exploring women’s experiences of online peer support
What we are doing:
This study is the first of its kind to explore women’s experiences of participating in birth trauma Facebook groups following a traumatic birth. Interviews were conducted with participants currently using a birth trauma Facebook group as well as ex-users and administrators. The study investigates the factors and experiences that motivate women to access, use and continue or discontinue using online support communities following a traumatic birth, and explores the ways women participate and the meaning this has for them.
Why we are doing it:
Traumatic birth experiences affect around a third of women, often with profound, long-term consequences. Current NHS strategy prioritises improvements to perinatal mental healthcare and maternity service provision and encourages the development of digital technologies. A simple Google search confirms that thousands of women participate in online support communities for birth trauma on various social media platforms, however there is no endorsement by the NHS nor any indication that women are directed to these communities by health professionals. Indeed, there is little research about this phenomenon and none on women’s experiences of participating in online birth trauma peer support groups.
What the benefits will be:
This study will provide a greater understanding of women’s support needs following a traumatic birth and the complexities of online peer support in this context. Understanding the potential benefits and harms of online support communities for birth trauma and women’s experiences of these is vital for maternity service users and providers as well as for those involved in the development, design, and management of online support communities.
Who we are working with:
- Professor Helen Spiby from the Division of Midwifery, University of Nottingham
- Professor Neil Coulson from the School of Medicine, University of Nottingham
Serena Cox, PhD student, University of Nottingham, firstname.lastname@example.org.