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Blogging Helps New Moms Handle Parental Stress

June 27, 2012
new moms and stress

One of the most effective ways to relieve stress associated with being a new mom is to read or write blogs, claims a new family study by U.S. researchers.

According to the new findings, joining an online blogging community helps new mothers feel less alone as they begin to feel more connected to their "extended family and friends." It was also revealed that while blogging had a positive impact on women, social networking, in particular Facebook and MySpace, did not seem to have such an effect on their well being.

Study's principal author Brandon T. McDaniel, graduate student in human development and family studies at Penn State University, and his colleagues from Brigham Young University, surveyed nearly 160 new mothers in order to find out about their media use as well as their overall wellbeing. All the surveyors were first-time parents of only one child with the maximum age of 18 months. The women were also asked to report how much time they usually spent on different types of activities throughout the day, including their housework, care for a child, time spent on the computer and their sleep patterns.

The participants reported spending nearly nine hours a day caring for their child, about three hours per day was being spent on the computer, and about seven hours was dedicated to sleep. The authors revealed that 61 per cent of the new moms in the survey had been writing their own blogs and 76 per cent liked reading blogs. Among the mothers who wrote their own blogs 89 per cent said they did so to document their experiences and share them with other people, and 86 per cent reported that by means of the online publications and blogging they tried to stay connected with family and close friends who did not live nearby.

McDaniel pointed out some other potential benefits for new moms who blog, including an outlet to use and share their hobbies and accomplishments, particularly for stay-at-home mothers. When asked about their sense of social support, those women who reported having stronger ties with friends and family, thanks to their blogs, experienced much stronger feeling of support. All this, in turn, was associated with higher satisfaction in marriage, less conflicts in the family and less parental stress. The new moms who experienced fewer feelings of parental stress also were less likely to experience feelings of depression, the authors found.

Researchers noted that it is not necessarily the case that those women who feel more supported by their social ties through the blogs will no longer experience stress associated with childcare. They still will go through those hard and stressful moments as parents, McDaniel said, but because they are feeling the support of family and friends, their attitude towards that stress might change. Therefore, McDaniel concluded, the new moms could be feeling less nervous and experience less stress about many things associated with parenting.

Because this study appears to be one of the first to analyze the effects of participation in online communities on new mothers, the authors noted that they are continuing this line of research as there is still much more information needed in order to establish why blogging has such a significant effect on new moms, while social networking does not always have such a positive impact.

The findings were reported in the online version of Maternal and Child Health Journal.

Tags: Parenting and Families