All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Retta Evans

Advisory Committee Members

Jonathan Amsbary

Laura Forbes

Jenna Lachenaye

Martha Wingate

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education


Background: Breastfeeding is well known as the optimal source of nutrition for the first year of life. However, suboptimal exclusively breastfeeding rates in the US are still prevalent despite numerous calls to action at the national level. A mixed-methods study was conducted to explore social media group’ impact on breastfeeding related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Participants were recruited from one online social media pro-breastfeeding group. Online Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with 21 women; Key Informant Interviews were conducted with 12 mothers. Qualitative data were aggregated for thematic analysis. A survey was developed based on findings from the qualitative phase. There were 337 mothers who took the online survey. Results: Findings showed an overall sense of community, with the following main themes: (1) Normalizing Breastfeeding; (2) Empowerment for breastfeeding; (3) Resource for breastfeeding; and (4) shared experiences in breastfeeding. Quantitative results showed an extremely high exclusively breastfeeding rate at 6 months (69%), as well as a high percentage of mothers who ever breastfed (91.5%). Conclusions: This study shows that social media can positively influence breastfeeding related attitudes, knowledge and behaviors, which can ultimately lead to better quality of life for mother-infant dyads, including both physical and mental health outcomes. Further, an organic community of practice was formed from one pro-breastfeeding social media group. Further research is needed with more geographically and economically diverse samples to confirm applications of this study to the broader field.

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