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What Women With Disabilities Write in Personal Blogs About Pregnancy and Early Motherhood: Qualitative Analysis of Blogs.

  • Author(s): Litchman, Michelle L
  • Tran, MJ
  • Dearden, Susan E
  • Guo, Jia-Wen
  • Simonsen, Sara E
  • Clark, Lauren
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://doi.org/10.2196/12355
Abstract

Background

More than 1 in 10 women of reproductive age identify as having some type of disability. Most of these women are able to become pregnant and have similar desires for motherhood as women without disability. Women with disability, however, face greater stigma and stereotyping, additional risk factors, and may be less likely to receive adequate reproductive health care compared with their peers without disability. More and more individuals, including those with disability, are utilizing the internet to seek information and peer support. Blogs are one source of peer-to-peer social media engagement that may provide a forum for women with disability to both share and obtain peer-to-peer information and support. Nevertheless, it is not clear what content about reproductive health and pregnancy and/or motherhood is featured in personal blogs authored by women with spinal cord injury (SCI), traumatic brain injury (TBI), spina bifida, and autism.

Objective

The objective of this study was twofold: (1) to examine the information being shared in blogs by women with 4 types of disabilities, namely, SCI, TBI, spina bifida, and autism, about reproductive health, disability, health care, pregnancy, and motherhood; and (2) to classify the content of reproductive health experiences addressed by bloggers to better understand what they viewed as important.

Methods

Personal blogs were identified by searching Google with keywords related to disabilities, SCI, TBI, spina bifida, and autism, and a variety of keywords related to reproductive health. The first 10 pages of each database search in Google, based on the relevance of the search terms, were reviewed and all blogs in these pages were included. Blog inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) written by a woman or care partner (ie, parent or spouse) of a woman with a self-identified diagnosis of SCI, TBI, spina bifida, or autism; (2) focused on the personal experience of health and health care during the prepregnancy, prenatal, antepartum, intrapartum, and/or postpartum periods; (3) written in English; and (4) published between 2013 and 2017. A descriptive and thematic qualitative analysis of blogs and corresponding comments was facilitated with NVivo software and matrix analysis.

Results

Our search strategy identified 125 blogs that met all the inclusion criteria; no blogs written by women with spina bifida were identified. We identified 4 reproductive health themes featured in the blog of women with disabilities: (1) (in)accessible motherhood, (2) (un)supportive others, (3) different, but not different, and (4) society questioning motherhood.

Conclusions

This analysis of personal blogs about pregnancy and health care written by women with SCI, TBI, and autism provides a glimpse into their experiences. The challenges faced by these women and the adaptations they made to successfully navigate pregnancy and early motherhood provide insights that can be used to shape future research.

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