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Running head: SOCIAL MEDIA AND NURSING STUDENTS 1

Positive Utilization of Social Media in Prenatal Nursing

Robin Stout

Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing

Arlene Holowaychuk RN, MSN

NUR 1101

April 15, 2018

Honor Code: “I pledge”


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Positive Utilization of Social Media in Prenatal Nursing

Pregnant women are faced with an enormous amount of decisions to make from

preconception all the way to birth and postpartum. When a woman finds out she is pregnant, an

an abundance of thoughts run through her mind. With technology today being at the forefront of

people’s minds, it is likely that one of the first steps is to search for an application, or “app,” on

their cell phone to help track each week of the pregnancy and learn how their body is changing.

Midwives, nurses, and other childbirth educators need to realize that utilizing many forms of

social media is extremely beneficial for expectant mothers (and fathers). There are several

categories to address including, but not limited to, different forms of social media, a father’s role

in pregnancy and delivery, and challenges that may arise through this type of communication.

Social media sometimes has a bad reputation, especially when used on the medical platform.

Some suggest there is too much inaccurate information, or it takes away from the face-to-face

interaction needed to provide quality care. The purpose of this paper is to show that, when used

in the right capacity, social media can be an extremely positive and effective tool used in

prenatal nursing.

Social media has only become more prominent in the last decade or so for acquiring

medical knowledge. Many healthcare professionals are still in a learning curve working through

how to integrate technology into their everyday care. It is important for midwives, nurses, and

other childbirth educators to realize that most women now of child-bearing age fall into the

cohort known as Millenials (D. Weatherspoon, C. Weatherspoon, & Ristau, 2015, p. 21). This

population is referred to as Digital Natives that have grown up around technology as opposed to

their parents known as Digital Immigrants (Weatherspoon et al., 2015, p. 21). Midwives and

childbirth educators can take advantage of this, and it is their duty to provide accurate
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information that is easily accessible. Unfortunately, healthcare in the United States is all about

the numbers, or profit, which can make medical visits feel very rushed. Having an alternative

method to seek and find reputable information can benefit all parties involved. In a study

gauging acceptance of social media as a communication strategy, research finds that “83% of

respondents used some form of social media and 56% wanted healthcare providers to use social

media (Weatherspoon et al., 2015, p. 22). In addition, “97% of women in the U.S. who had given

birth the previous year reported using the Internet as a source of information about pregnancy

and childbirth” (Tranter & McGraw, 2017, p. 458).

There are many forms of social media that can be used to enhance prenatal care. Some

examples include: Facebook, where one can post statuses, comments, photos, and links; Twitter,

where one can post short messages and assign a hashtag (#) for specific information; Pinterest,

where one can create a personal pin board to pin photos and share; Instagram, where one can

post photos and videos; YouTube, where one can record instructional videos; and even text

messaging, where one can communicate via cell phone. Childbirth educators need to familiarize

themselves with these very tangible and easily accessible outlets to provide their patients with

reliable information. Weatherspoon et al. (2015) suggest educators have their own personal

website for clients to have access to their educational materials. In this manner, trustworthy

information can be consolidated in one location for all patients.

In addition, “studies have shown that social media enables new ways of access to and

sharing of information, social support, emphasize collaboration and participation of the

stakeholders involved, and increase individuals’ direct participation” (Weatherspoon et al., 2015,

p. 21). Using social media from before conception to labor in the hospital or even in one’s home,

and every moment in between, helps not only ease the mind of patients, but can also affect
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feelings about the outcome of the pregnancy. Daniels and Wedler (2015) “found that women

who attend childbirth classes were not only less likely to have an elective induction, but that they

were more satisfied with the overall birth experience” (p. 28).

Expectant mothers are not the only ones in need of easy access to comprehensible and

reliable prenatal materials. Not that long ago, fathers had a very insignificant role in the pre-

partum stage of pregnancy and were not even allowed in the delivery room. Now, fathers have

become increasingly more involved in their significant others’ pregnancy, thereby increasing the

need to have more dependable and reliable information on hand. Of the hundreds of pregnancy

tracking apps for women, only a select few, though, are geared towards new dads. Unfortunately,

according to Daniels and Wedler (2015), research shows men’s inclusion of childbirth education

is mostly absent. Having a supportive partner can make a vast difference in the mindset and

outcome of pregnancy and delivery. Childbirth educators can play a significant role in making

fathers more aware of their new roles by informing and encouraging involvement from every

member included in the pregnancy.

While using social media to better access many patients, challenges can still occur.

Research showed that midwives had reservations about everyday use of technology, including

“lack of training in use of information communication technologies, perceived legal risks

associated with social media, potential violations of patient privacy, misdiagnosis, and

misunderstandings between the midwife and client” (Tranter & McGraw, 2017, p. 459). In

addition to challenges with social media, childbirth educators cannot forget that not everyone has

first-world luxuries of access to social media. Therefore, healthcare educators need to keep their

horizons broadened in order to appeal to many different varieties of people. Daniels and Wedler
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(2015) note that childbirth educators need to consider how pregnant women prefer to receive

information because paper records may still be a valuable tool.

A majority of women, and a growing number of men, are turning towards social media

for information regarding pregnancy and childbirth. Midwives, nurses, and other childbirth

educators need to expand their communication techniques to include newer technologies and

provide access to trustworthy materials. Challenges can arise when using social media to

communicate, but the benefits far outweigh the risks. Looking towards the future, social media

can be integrated even more into the daily lives of childbirth educators and patients for positive

utilization in prenatal nursing.


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References

Daniel, M., & Wedler, J. A. (2015). Enhancing childbirth education through technology.

International Journal of Childbirth Education, 30(3), 28-32. Retrieved from EBSCOhost

on 23 February 2018.

Tranter, R., & McGraw, C. (2017). Integrating social media into routine midwifery services:

Maternity direct+. British Journal of Midwifery, 25(7), 458-464. Retrieved from

EBSCOhost on 18 February 2018.

Weatherspoon, D., Weatherspoon, C., & Ristau. (2015). Speaking their language: Integrating

social media into childbirth education practice. International Journal of Childbirth

Education, 30(3), 21-24. Retrieved from EBSCOhost on 12 February 2018.