Objective: to investigate whether pregnant Swedish women used the Internet to retrieve pregnancy-related information, how they perceived the reliability of the information, and whether they discussed this information with their midwife during antenatal care visits.
Design and setting: a descriptive, cross-sectional design using waiting-room questionnaires to obtain information from pregnant women attending 11 antenatal clinics in a county in mid-Sweden during 2004.
Participants: all Swedish-speaking women who visited the clinics during a 2-week period, and who were at least 32 weeks pregnant, were invited to participate. A total of 182 women, with a mean age of 31 years, participated in the study; the response rate 85%.
Findings: most (91%) of the women had access to the Internet and, to a great extent (84%), used it to retrieve information, most often in the early stages of their pregnancy. Fetal development and stages of childbirth were the two most often mentioned topics of interest. Most participants considered the information to be reliable, and the two most important criteria for judging the trustworthiness of web-based information were if the facts were consistent with information from other sources and if references were provided. Most (70%) of the women did not discuss the information they had retrieved from the Internet with their midwife, but more than half of them (55%) searched for information on topics brought up by the midwife.
Conclusion: Swedish pregnant women often use the Internet to find information on various topics related to pregnancy, childbirth and the expected baby. They perceive the information to be reliable but rarely discuss it with their midwives. Antenatal care providers should be able to guide pregnant women to high-quality, web-based information and then take the opportunity to discuss this information with them during antenatal visits.