Whether it comes from friends, bloggers or influencers, social media is a huge source of pregnancy and birth information – both positive and negative.
And, because midwives don’t often use social media to communicate with mothers-to-be, it means that a lot of childbirth-related discussions take place online without any expert guidance.
But until now, there has been very little research into how this content affects birth and decision-making around it.
Miss Anna Marsh, Midwife at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is going to analyse how pregnant women and midwives use Instagram to communicate.
She will gather data on popular birth hashtags and visual content, captions, likes and comments associated with them.
Then, using an online research method called netnography she will analyse this data to understand how women and midwives communicate with each other and their peers online.
Using this newfound knowledge, the maternity unit at Miss Marsh’s Trust will create an Instagram page which will provide a new source of health and wellbeing information for women. It will also open up a new channel of communication and promote the unit, helping to modernise the midwifery profession and attract new recruits.
Importantly, the information will also prove invaluable to midwives who can use the data to help and inform women, especially those who are afraid of birth.
Once complete, Miss March’s research will be a brilliant source of information for midwives and lay the foundations for more social media and midwifery research in future.