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Prenatal education text messaging service launches throughout Northern B.C.

Jun 05, 2017 |

Written by Northern Health Authority

SmartMom, Canada’s first prenatal education program delivered by text messaging, has launched throughout the Northern B.C. region.

The app is free of charge to women and their families, and texts evidence-based messages to guide women through each week of their pregnancy, ensuring that women receive the right information and resources at the right time.

“The overall goal of the SmartMom project is to support pregnant women and their families to make evidence-informed decisions to improve health outcomes,” says Dr. Patricia Janssen, UBC professor at the School of Population and Public Health and project co-lead. “SmartMom is intended for women having uncomplicated pregnancies. Messages are meant to complement prenatal advice and information provided by caregivers, not to replace it.”

Patricia Janssen

Project co-lead Professor Patricia Janssen

Initially developed by UBC-affiliated clinician researchers, the BC Ministry of Health, Northern Health, and First Nations Health Authority, the project was given life with input from focus groups with pregnant women and new mothers in Northern Health communities, and piloted in September 2016 in the Omineca area (Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake & Fort St. James).

Since its pilot, SmartMom has received a great deal of positive feedback, and Northern Health will deliver the program to the rest of the region.

“We’ve had moms tell us that SmartMom is better than any other baby apps they’ve used because of the specific localized information and tips,” says Randi Roy, Northern Health Interim Regional Nursing Lead for Maternal, Infant, Child, and Youth, and project co-lead. “We are happy to be able to offer this support and education to pregnant women in the north.”

Messages include links to websites, videos on topics like fetal growth and development, options for screening in pregnancy, and preparation for labour and delivery. Participants receive three messages per week and may opt for additional messaging for specific concerns, such as use of tobacco, use of alcohol and illicit drugs, depression, planning a vaginal birth after caesarean delivery, nutritional support and weight management, pregnancy loss, first pregnancy after 35 years, and exposure to intimate partner violence.

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