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New app for pregnant women

New app for pregnant women

Pregnancy is a time of continuous change – not just physical, but social, emotional, and psychological.

While this can be exciting – it can also be stressful. There are dozens of books, websites, and apps out there that tell expecting mothers how big their baby is, what to eat and all the possible complications that might occur, but there is much less about the thoughts and feelings that evolve during pregnancy, how to handle the worries, shifts in relationships, and hassles, and how to use the time during pregnancy to build resilience and plan a healthy future for the whole family.

Well now there is an app that covers all that. A team from the University of Waikato’s School of Psychology, headed by Dr Carrie Cornsweet Barber, have been working for the last three years to develop ‘Positively Pregnant’ – an app for pregnant women.

Positively Pregnant includes tools for self-assessment, taking inventory of the mother’s strengths, stressors, support, strategies for coping, health behaviours, and more. From each of these, the woman receives feedback with links to New Zealand resources and information. Other modules are guides for talking or thinking about plans for things like parenting, the birth, finances, and family traditions. There are activities for relaxation, affirmation, journaling, and just taking a break, as well as information on topics related to the social and emotional side of pregnancy.

Starting this month, the app is being piloted in the Waikato. The goal of the study is to see how women use the app, to get feedback and suggestions from them, and to see if there are changes in their stress, distress, and health behaviours while using the app.

“One of the advantages of an app over something like a book is that the app can be tailored to the particular needs of the mother – there can easily be different versions, individualised for the user,” says Dr Barber.

“In this pilot, we are especially interested in including women under 20 and Māori and migrant women, in order to get their input and ideas about tailoring the app to their interests,” she says.

Any woman who is at least 16 years old, in the first half of pregnancy and who uses a smart phone (either Android or iPhone) is eligible to participate. The team is looking to recruit up to 60 women in February and March, and will follow them through to a month after the baby is born.

For more information, or to volunteer to be involved, you can contact the research coordinator Juliana Brown on 027 870 1039, email positivelypregnant@waikato.ac.nz or visit the website psychology.waikato.ac.nz/positivelypregnant


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