Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Garner, Ana C.

Second Advisor

Cabas-Mijares, Ayleen

Third Advisor

Robb, Jamie


One critical health concern that hinders a child’s survival and growth in Nigeria is child mortality. Yet, the factors responsible for the high child mortality rates are preventable, and many can be traced to cultural beliefs and traditional practices related to mothering and childcare. Previous research, however, especially that used social media as its focus, rarely included the perspectives of mothers. Hence, this study examines myths, cultural beliefs, and traditional practices surrounding mothering and child-rearing among Nigerian mothers via a Facebook group, Ask the Pediatricians (ATP). Through a textual analysis of mothers’ discourses on the ATP group, the study reveals the maternal beliefs that: teething is a major cause of children’s illnesses, breastfeeding is not enough for the first six months, and chubby babies are healthier babies. The corresponding actions related to these beliefs included following traditional practices of self-diagnosing and self-treating illnesses, giving babies herbal drinks, neighborhood advising roles, and experienced mothers and mothers-in-law assuming the role of a child health expert. In navigating the beliefs and practices, the mothers on the ATP Facebook group either challenged or embraced the beliefs and practices. The mothers’ narratives reflect that in order to be a good mother, there are feelings of tension and a continued interplay between medical and cultural practices. In addition, the study demonstrates how new media informs community support care and recommends that policymakers build on it to achieve maternal and child wellbeing in Nigeria.

Available for download on Thursday, July 18, 2024

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