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Internet use in pregnancy

02 July 2014
13 min read
Volume 22 · Issue 7

Abstract

Background:

More and more women are turning to the internet in pregnancy. Yet the value of this ever increasing quest for information is an area that appears to be under researched.

Objective:

This qualitative study aimed to explore the perceived value of internet use in pregnancy, conducted from the viewpoint of three distinct groups: midwives, pregnant women and postnatal women.

Methods:

Thirteen midwives, seven antenatal women and six postnatal women were recruited to three focus groups and seven in-depth interviews.

Results:

Appropriate internet usage during pregnancy was positively valued by all groups. However, midwives were more negative in their perceptions of inappropriate use. The data indicated that this could be influenced by their lack of awareness of current pregnancy website use.

Conclusion:

Greater collaboration between midwives and pregnant women is required to enable access to consistent, verified internet information which can be used appropriately and with confidence.

There was a time when pregnant women allowed the midwife, unquestioningly, to provide their care. The midwife was regarded as the respected authority in the field of normal childbirth and her decisions regarding pregnancy and birth were sacrosanct. Ever-increasing internet use on a plethora of accessible devices has meant that the professional word and authority of the midwife is being increasingly challenged by pregnant women with information gained from internet sources. The professional dominance of the past whereby health professionals felt that their esoteric knowledge meant that they alone would decide what was best for the layperson (Friedson, 1970), is no longer acceptable.

The modern day midwife-client relationship has changed, but has the balance now tipped too far the other way?

There are undoubtedly many benefits of the better-informed woman who can play a more active part in her pregnancy and birth plans. However, this omnipresence of information can challenge midwifery practice and breach Trust protocols. Misinformation from websites can also be dangerous and cause unnecessary anxiety.

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