Mother and Social Media

Written by drg. Danar Sekartaji

Current technological advances have made it easier for health promotion and disease prevention information to be accessible from anywhere, especially through mobile phones. People with any educational background, income, and any residential location must have a smartphone or at least, have the tools to access social media. Not excluding young mothers or first time mothers, can easily access information about breastfeeding, parenting, and other information only through social media.

Based on the Oxford Dictionary (2014) 6, social media is defined as websites and apps that allow users to create and share content or participate in social networks. Social media is also defined as all forms of electronic communication (for example website and microblogging) where users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (videos, photos, etc.).

Some mothers, during the period before labor (antepartum) and after delivery (post partum), will feel limited / minimal support received from family and friends. Some of them feel lonely, isolated, and saddened by the small number of visits or attractions around the antepartum & post partum period. Even though this period is a very important time for mothers or new parents to get sufficient support. The transition period into a new parent is a time when a person feels an appreciation as well as a challenge for herself. The presence of newborn infants provides new activities and happiness, but the transitional period as a parent has the potential to cause “parental stress,” which can have a negative effect for both mother and baby. To get through that phase, and prevent the bad effects, mothers should get social support. In the era of technology as has been described previously, the feeling can be accomodated easily through social media. Quickly and surely the mother can keep renewing her knowledge and getting support from the outside world

Based on the research, it was noted that 83% of new parents had experienced “moderate to severe crisis” in the year when the baby was born. This shows that many young couples have difficulty in transitioning into new parents. This transition period occurs since the baby in the womb until after the baby is born, or since pregnancy, after delivery, and 18 months after delivery.

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Parental stress is a time when an increased in difficulty happened during the transition into new parents, such as depression, difficulty interacting between parent and child, parenting everyday, and continuing to become an experienced parent.

Research also shows that the level of parental stress in new mothers increases from six months pregnant to at least eight months after the baby is born. New mothers have higher levels of stress than new fathers. This state of stress can affect the emotions, behavior and psychological of mothers in passing through the transition period as parents. Thus, a good adaptation for new mothers is needed to lower their stress levels. One way in achieving that is to have adequate social support.5

Social support is available on social media which has the following functions5:

  1. Appraisal support: the ability to talk to others
  2. Social integration: the networking capabilities of some individuals with similar interests and views
  3. Self esteem support: the ability to compare yourself and others positively

In another study, using social media a mother expects 1:

  1. Getting relevant information about the perinatal period
  2. Educate yourself on health-related topics (for example diet, exercise, and pregnancy and nurturing info)
  3. Gain social support and advice from other mothers and other women who have the same situation

According to Meadows, good social support for new mothers can be obtained by increasing quality of relationships with partners, positively impacting behavior, increasing satisfaction as new parents with good parent-child interaction quality.4 Moreover, according to McDaniel, Coyne, and Holmes, social support can reduce household conflicts and reduce stress as parents.3

Therefore, adequate social support might reduce the level of parental stress. Social media as one means of social support, can be a supportive thing but it may also have a negative effect on the behavior of new parents.

Roles and responsibilities during the transition into new parents make mothers become more active in using online technology in order to communicate with others. Research by McDaniel’s et al, found that 61% of new mothers of the sample (n = 157) wrote their own blogs.3 In addition Bartholomew’s et al conducted a study concluding that the use of Facebook in new mothers increased after the baby was born.According to Edison’s study of samples they studied, 90% of mothers have the ability to access the internet from any location, 95% of mothers own mobile phones and on average they spend 15 minutes or more to use the internet every day. Researchers say that this is done by mothers to keep their feelings in order to get a continuous social support.

Research on the use of social media in new mothers and their effects on social support and parental stress provides different results. The social media effect of new moms with parental stress suggests that the use of Facebook in general can enhance a mother’s feelings of social support and then contribute to good behavior, reduce stress, and increase satisfaction. On the other hand there is also an opinion that social networks can decrease self esteem and behavior.

New moms who actively post in social media and then get an instant response from their followers might feel that they’re gaining an appraisal support. During the transition to parenthood, which can be very difficult for many women, sharing information in social media can have a positive effect. Feeling that out there many people who care about her at the beginning have a role and responsibility as a mother. However research also suggests that the use of social media in addition to improving might also contribute to a decrease in social support.

Sample case :

Mrs. A, 26 years old (first time mother) and Baby A, 1 month old, came to the lactation clinic with complaints of very painful nipples happened during breastfeeding. She had her left breast on a surgery a week ago due to an abscess at the hospital where she had given birth. When she came to our lactation clinic, there was still a bandage of an incision on her left breast. Prior to the incision of the abscess, she always pumps her breastmilk and the breastmilk given to the baby with a bottle. She does not work. She pumps her breastmilk to increase her breastmilk production, because she sees in social media that many other mothers have a lot of pumped breastmilk fully storage in their fridge. In addition,  she uses a bottle with anatomical form that most closely resembles the breasts according to an advertisement in social media. She was motivated to do the same result and did the breastmilk pumping as to increase the production of her breastmilk. She was also motivated to have many pumped breastmilk, even though she is not a working mom.

As a result, the mother’s milk production became excessive and the baby was unable to empty the breast. Breast milk stasis then occured, and progressed to mastitis and abscess. A surgery was performed to remove pus from her breast abscess, by a general surgeon. A counseling was conducted andit was concluded that she do not need to pump the breastmilk, and do not need to give bottle feeding to baby, because the she does not work. In the end, she was advised to do a direct breastfeeding only. Breastfeeding with other devices (not breasts) and milking (not shedding directly) only for mothers who are separated from the baby. Pumping breast has a function to replace the baby’s suction, therefore it is not need to be done by Mom who always be with their baby all the time. She could understand and currently do the direct breastfeeding and stop pumping her breastmilk. The use of the bottle is stopped completely.


From case Mrs. A and Baby A, anyone can learned several things:

– Mrs. A has been trying to find information in order to provide breast milk for her baby. However, the source of information obtained from the social media viewed is not valid. Also by looking at the milk production of other breastfeeding mothers who has fully storage their milk in their fridge motivate her to achieve the same thing. So what she did to increase milk production with breast pumps caused oversupply in the production of her breastmilk. Through the accumulation of breastmilk, an abscess was existed because the obtained breastmilk can not be spent by baby.

– Because she already had a lot of pumped breastmilk , she gave her breastmilk to her baby with bottle. If a baby drinks with a bottle, often the amount of milk exceeds his needs. So mothers will feel their pumped breastmilk is never enough. Compared to that as when the baby suckle directly on the mother’s breast, the baby will stop sucking on their own when they are full. Moreover, a mother who lives at home with her baby, will produce a “little” breastmilk, since most breastmilk babies have been full while suckling. The amount of milking does not reflect the amount of breast milk in the mother’s breast.

– We recommend that every breastfeeding mother has received education and lactation counselling since pregnancy period. In order for you to know from the beginning what needs to be prepared and received sufficient insights about breastfeeding process that has not been known before. Moreover, a lactation counseling is not only intended for breastfeeding mothers only, but also for the family around her, which can father, grandmother, grandfather, and / or other closely related people. The goal is to achieve a smooth transition to go through the breastfeeding process without any intervention from different parties. By attending the counselling all related family members will have a mutual understanding and will provide the mothers with the same sufficient knowledge and how-to of breastfeeding. In addition, by attending a direct counselling done by the experts, mothers will be more prepare with sufficient information and hopefully mothers can sort any true and false information written from social media better.

References :

  1. Asiodu IV., Waters CM., Dailey DE., Lee KA., Lyndon A. “Breastfeeding and Social Media Among First Time African-American Mothers”. J Obstet Gynecol Neonatal Nurs. 2015 March ; 44(2) : 268-278
  2. Bartholomew, M. K., Schoppe-Sullivan, S. J., Glassman, M., Dush, C. M. K., & Sullivan, J. M. (2012) New Parents’ Facebook use at the transition to parenthood. Family Relatioins, 61(3), 455-469.
  3. McDaniel, B. T., Coyne, S.M., & Holmes, E. K. (2012). New mothers and media use : Associations between blogging, social networking, and maternal well-being. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16(7), 1509-1517
  4. Meadows, S. O. (2010). The association between perceptions of social support and maternal mental health : A cumulative perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 32(2), 181-208.
  5. Nielsen, Rachel Clawson. “New Mothers and Social Media : The Effects of Social Media Consumption and Production of Social Support and Parental Stress”. BYU Scholars Archive 2015.


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