Web communities help moms adjust

New parents find it takes an e-village to raise a child

07/12/2012 7:07 AM

08/08/2014 10:11 AM

While your world shifts in previously unimaginable ways when you become a parent, one fundamental thing does not: You need a village to help you along. As a result, many new moms are seeking sanctuary and support in blogs and Facebook, according to a couple of recent studies.

About 44 percent of first-time mothers spend more time on Facebook in the first nine months after childbirth compared with before, according to a study in the July issue of the Family Relations journal. Almost all of the moms surveyed uploaded photos, with 63 percent saying they increased the photo sharing after childbirth, according to “AllFacebook,” the unofficial Facebook blog.

And 73 percent of first-time dads in the study said they posted more photos after baby.

“Parents may feel like they’re getting positive feedback about their role as parents,” study co-author Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, the associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, stated in a release. “These are all first-time parents, and they particularly need that.”

The Ohio State researchers examined the responses of 150 Midwest couples making the transition to parenthood and found that 58 percent of the mothers visited their accounts at least once a day, compared with 44 percent of fathers, according to “AllFacebook.”

Lead study author Mitchell Bartholomew said in a release, “These mothers may be taking time off from work, and may be far from family, so this network they created for themselves on Facebook can be very valuable in helping them cope.”

The seemingly uninterrupted, solitary hours spent rocking, comforting and feeding a little one, while amazingly fulfilling, can send a new mom in search of community, primarily through friends and dedicated Facebook mommy groups.

Along the same lines, new mothers who read and write blogs may feel less alone than mothers who remain outside the blogging community, according to another group of family studies researchers.

“It looks like blogging might be helping these women as they transition into motherhood because they may begin to feel more connected to their extended family and friends, which leads them to feel more supported,” said Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies at Penn State University. He worked on the study with colleagues at Brigham Young University.

The researchers found that 61 percent of the mothers who participated in the online survey wrote blogs and 76 percent read blogs. Of the moms who wrote their own blogs, 89 percent said they did it to “document personal experiences or share them with others,” and 86 percent said they wanted to stay in touch with family and friends through the blog.

“That potentially is going to spill out into other aspects of their well-being, including their marital relationship with their partner, the ways that they’re feeling about their parenting stress, and eventually into their levels of depression,” he said.

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