CANADA’S CHOICE AWARD
By: NRPH Reproductive Health Team
Mobile phones offer a communication channel that is interactive, direct, personalized and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Statistics indicate that wireless phones are among the fastest growing consumer products in history and nearly three-quarters of Canadian households indicated they owned a mobile phone (Statscan, 2008). Studies also indicate that half of all phone connections in Canada are now wireless (Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association). With mobile phone usage rapidly increasing, it is changing the way we can promote healthy lifestyles!
With the aim to promote healthy behaviours in the reproductive years, the Niagara Region Reproductive Health program is proposing that a new phone application be designed for expectant mothers. This application will offer words of advice for pregnant women in a place that will be easy to reach them: on their mobile phones. Expectant mothers are using social media and technology more than ever before. They can now be reached anytime and anywhere. We want to engage expectant mothers in a way that extends beyond simple delivery of prenatal education and towards facilitating active patient participation in their care. This new innovative phone application, Mom2B will link individuals in their reproductive years with the information, skills and support necessary to promote and improve healthy birth outcomes, in a fast and accessible way.
Mom2B will be a comprehensive phone application that will help individuals through every stage of their pregnancy. To ensure the success of this program, it is important to base this new innovative program on other successful programs. Text4baby is a free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health in the United States. Women who sign up for the service receive free text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. Approximately 135,000 women have signed up and it has proven to be very successful in promoting better health outcomes and enhancing the patient’s experience. We hope to go beyond the idea of simply texting expectant mothers. Mom2B will build self-efficacy among expectant mothers, as this application will test their knowledge and increase skills through this comprehensive approach. This application will save time and money and will provide faster information to expectant mothers than ever before. No other phone application has an option to link mothers to services and support in their area by simply entering their postal code or phone number. Most applications are either a calendar to track important milestones or a reminder application to improve prenatal health and birth outcomes.
This application will encompass the following functions:
- Preconception: this will include a fertility planner, health before pregnancy checklist and valuable multivitamin information.
- Pregnancy Calendar: this will allow expectant mothers to track their due date, doctor visits, healthy weight gain, measurements, fetal heart rate, ultrasounds, and much more.
- Reminders: text messaging has demonstrated early promise as a tool to promote healthy behaviour. Some of the reminders will include monthly milestones, important appointments, nutritional information, fetal development and more. The reminder function can be turned on or off, depending on the mother’s personal needs and preference.
- Healthy Eating: a healthy eating function will link expectant mothers to Canada’s Food Guide, information on important foods to consume and avoid, as well as connecting them to a Registered Nurse in their area.
- Labour and Delivery: this function will educate mothers on the stages of labour and delivery. A contractions timer will also be available for mothers to monitor and track their contractions from start to finish.
- Where to Get Help: by utilizing GPS functionality, expectant mothers can input their postal code or phone number and it will connect them to the nearest hospital and Public Health Nurse.
Refer to the Process Maps for additional information on the various functions for Mom2B. Help support the birth of a new phone application! Mom2B will be giving expectant mothers the valuable tools and skills to have the healthiest pregnancy possible. This application will likely decrease the high number of premature births across Canada by educating mothers in a fast and convenient way. It will also be an opportunity to educate and support pregnant teens and high risk moms through this effective channel of communication. It is imperative that we take the next step to link priority populations to current, evidence-based health information, programs and services in their area to ensure healthy birth outcomes. The time has come to leverage mobile phones as the latest way to educate mothers. The time has come to make Mom2B the newest kid on the block!