Online discussions mirroring family life during pregnancy

Pirkko Kouri, Hannele Turunen, Kerttu Tossavainen, Seppo Saarikoski


Objective The aim of this study was to find out what aspects of their parenthood parents revealed, and how they expressed their thoughts concerning maternity care services on an online communication forum.
Background The 'Information Society' offers a growing variety of health services as part of public primary health care via the internet. Little is known about the contents produced online by pregnant families, and how they reflect on both family life and maternity care services.
Methods The data for this study were obtained from online discussions between families (n=21) in Net Clinic, an internet-based service designed for public maternity care. The data included experiences of family life during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting, and was analysed by inductive content analysis.
Results While maturing into parenthood, both women and men recognised the uniqueness of their new role and wanted to prepare for safe childbirth. Online communication in the home environment nourished new social networks among families who were expecting their first, second or third child. In addition, families reflected on maternity care services on the Net Clinic's communication forum. This provided realistic feedback to maternity care professionals.
Conclusions Today, the relationship between clients and professionals is inevitably changing. More online services and advocacy are needed if families are to have access to online health services. The role of professionals is diversifying from being authorities to supporting and facilitating clients' individual self-care. Based on direct client feedback, the quality of maternity care can be improved.


internet support groups; online maternity services; pregnant family

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