Social networking sites (SNS): Exploring the value to adolescent mothers using narrative
thesisposted on 15.10.2019, 00:00 by Samantha Nolan
Aim: To explore adolescent mothers’ use of social networking sites (SNS) as mechanisms of support, and to consider these platforms as a tool for midwives to extend multifaceted, versatile and ongoing support and education to this often-vulnerable group. Background: Motherhood during adolescence may have detrimental effects on the lives and functionality of mothers, their infants and society. While there are government and non-government organisations that provide tailored support and health care services for adolescent mothers, these are usually offered in person either within community or hospital settings. Gaps in the literature exist where adolescent mothers offer their experiences of SNS use as a relevant means to inform midwifery practice and services. Research design: This study used a narrative approach to guide the research design and processes, gathering personal stories to explore both the nuances of adolescent motherhood and the online experience. The study was comprised of two phases: the exploration of West Australian adolescent mothers’ use of SNS and any associated social capital attributed to such use and the consideration of SNS as a tool for midwives to lend adolescent mothers further parenting support. Approval was obtained from Edith Cowan University’s Human Research Ethics Committee to conduct interviews and focus groups with adolescent mothers and midwives in Western Australia. Data collection and analysis: Narrative data from interviews and focus groups with adolescent mothers and midwives were collected, transcribed and analysed to produce themes. Data collection, analysis and literature exploration occurred concurrently using the constant comparison method (Creswell, 2013). Findings: Adolescent mothers indicated SNS use provides them with valuable social capital and has the potential to enhance wellbeing during the transition to motherhood. Moreover, findings suggest both adolescent mothers and midwives consider there are a variety of ways in which midwives could enhance the support afforded to adolescent mothers using SNS. Midwives were more likely to consider the need for guideline development, but the underlying value potential expressed in terms of their ability to provide accessible and professionally mediated online support and information was consistent across the two groups. Conclusion: This study suggests SNS use may assist adolescent mothers to build social capital. Midwives would benefit from acknowledging the role played by SNS in providing support to adolescent mothers and by considering how this technology can be used to lend further support. Implications for practice: Identifying the value of SNS as a mechanism of support and social capital acquisition for adolescent mothers has implications not only for future midwifery practice and curricula, but also for managers, education providers, policymakers and researchers. Recommendations have been made across these areas of midwifery practice and maternity care provision, some of which focus on the consideration of innovative online extensions to midwifery-led care for adolescent mothers. Further, these recommendations have potential relevance for those caring for other marginalised groups such as First Peoples, migrant mothers or childbearing women in rural or remote areas of Australia. Fundamentally, these recommendations serve to bridge the gap between health care service provision and the digital age, particularly for adolescent consumers.