Dalhousie, IWK study offers tips by text to 1st-time moms
'It's things that every new mom has questions about,' says program developer
The IWK Health Centre and Dalhousie University are looking for first-time mothers to take part in a study that involves receiving daily text messages with tips on self care and baby care.
Mothers would receive the texts for the first six weeks after the birth.
The program, called Essential Coaching for Every Mother, was developed with input from moms and health-care providers. The tips are consistent with existing postpartum education in Nova Scotia.
"I was initially looking at the support that moms who have just given birth receive in Halifax, Nova Scotia, broadly, and I was quite surprised at the gap of care that happens within the postpartum period," Justine Dol told CBC Nova Scotia News at Six.
Dol is a PhD in Health candidate who developed the program as part of her dissertation.
Dol said moms usually get to see their health-care provider once a week or once every two weeks in the last trimester of pregnancy. But Dol said that level of care "really drops off" after the baby is born.
'Really big gap'
"It's usually maybe one or two times in the first week and then at six weeks if they have a family care provider. So it is a really big gap, so we developed this program to try and cover that."
For the first two weeks of the program, the moms will get texts twice a day. After that, they'll get a text message once a day for the following four weeks.
In a news release, the IWK said the benefit of the program is the educational information and interactions with researchers occur remotely.
It said the messages are personalized for each participant and can be customized based on whether a mother is breastfeeding or formula feeding.
Dol said the study will explore the impacts of the program on COVID-19 and associated anxiety, maternal self-efficacy, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression and perceived social support.
The text messages are more helpful than a Google search, Dol said.
"The benefit of [the text messages] is that you know you're getting evidence-based information. So this is information that your health-care providers would share with you your public health nurse
"It's things that every new mom has questions about, around feeding, what's normal with the development of their emotional health."
Dol said she tested the texting program out on herself as a new mother.
"One time when my husband asked me a question about a normal baby issue and I had forgotten ... that night a message came about what his question was. So it was really interesting how accurate the timing was for me," she said.
The program is looking to recruit 75 first-time moms in Nova Scotia who are 37 weeks or beyond and plan to deliver at the IWK. Anyone interested can text "PREGNANT" to 902-702-6278 for more information and to sign up.
First-time moms who have already delivered at the IWK can text "BIRTH" to 902-702-6278 to sign up.
Study participants will be asked to complete two surveys. The first is when the mother enrolls in the study and again at the end of the sixth week.
With files from Amy Smith and CBC Nova Scotia News at Six