New program for pregnant women

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by EVAN MATTHEWS

Robson Valley mothers-to-be now have access to prenatal information via Northern Health’s newest program, the only of its kind in our country.

On Monday, Northern Health announced SmartMom — Canada’s first prenatal education program delivered through text messaging — has launched throughout the Northern B.C. region.

SmartMom is free of charge to women and their families, and texts the program’s users evidence-based messages to guide them through each week of their pregnancy, aiming to ensure women receive accurate information and resources at the right time, according to Northern Health.

“The 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, University of British Columbia professor at the School of Population and Public Health and project co-lead.

SmartMom is intended for women having uncomplicated pregnancies, according to Janssen.

“Messages are meant to complement prenatal advice and information provided by caregivers, not to replace it,” she says.

Initially developed by UBC-affiliated researchers, the B.C. 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 areas such as Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James, according to Northern Health.

Since the pilot, Northern Health says SmartMom has received a great deal of positive feedback, and the organization is excited to lead the way in delivering 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,” she says.

Messages include links to websites, videos on topics like fetal growth and development, options for screening in pregnancy, and preparation for labour and delivery, according to Northern Health.

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, Northern Health says.

People can enroll in the program by texting “SmartMom” to 12323 or by visiting www.smartmomcanada.ca.