It's been gestating for more than a year, but Yukon health officials and technology programmers on Thursday delivered their new baby — a phone application designed to help Yukoners navigate their way through a pregnancy.
The "Yukon Baby" app is now available as a free download for iPhones and Android devices.
"Our target audience is anyone who's planning a pregnancy or who is pregnant — moms, dads, anyone who's supporting someone during pregnancy," said Shannon Ryan, a genetic counsellor who was part of the app's development team.
When you download the app, you're asked to enter an estimated due date. It then uses that date to help track the development of the fetus through pregnancy.
"It will tell you, 'you're at 13 weeks, your baby is about the size of' — I forget what the fruit is at that week — but it'll give you a little visual and tell you how big it is," Ryan said.
Similar apps have been developed elsewhere, but Ryan said this one is unique as it was "made for Yukoners, by Yukoners," with information about local resources and services expectant parents might need in Yukon.
"Whether it's how to find a lawyer if you need to talk to a lawyer, where to find breast-feeding information if you have a newborn, where to find your maternity clinic when you're first pregnant — all that information is in the resources."
One thing it won't do, however, is perform an ultrasound.
"Not yet! Maybe someday," Ryan said, laughing.
Basis for more health-related apps
A group of health care providers and a designer first conceived of the app in 2014. The territorial government provided the funding, and Yukon College helped develop the idea, at the Yukon Research Centre.
"We supported the birth," said Stephen Mooney at the Research Centre. "More of a midwife."
Mooney called it "a little piece of the knowledge economy we're building here in the Yukon."
"It's breeding and growing the knowledge in the Yukon, so we can build more and more of these apps."
Mooney said the basis of the "Yukon Baby" app could be used to develop other new health-related apps, for example, one that offers support to Yukoners living with diabetes.
Ryan also said the baby app could also be easily adapted for use outside of Yukon.
"If [the Northwest Territories] is interested in using it, they could change the resources in it, and all the rest of the information is relevant to any woman's pregnancy," she said.