Breadcrumbs

Can an app make the experience of pregnancy easier?

5 December 2018

Researchers at the University of Waikato believe they have created an app that can make a real difference for pregnant women, their partners and families.

Dr Carrie Barber and her team have developed Positively Pregnant. It is a first for New Zealand and brings together useful local information, activities, ideas to start conversations with whanau, and ways for pregnant women to assess how they are coping, then find strategies to deal with any stress or anxiety they may be facing. It is interactive, individualized and aims to help prevent antenatal and postnatal distress.

There is increasing evidence that stress, anxiety, and depression during pregnancy affect the physical and mental health of both mother and baby for many months and years to come.  Postnatal depression has been called the most common complication of pregnancy; estimates of rates of depression overall are about 13%, with higher rates among economically and socially disadvantaged women.

The researchers have completed a pilot study in which 88 women used Positively Pregnant, and using their feedback they modified the app for launch to the public. A small number of the women were struggling with depression or anxiety, and their levels of distress decreased while using Positively Pregnant. Others found it useful for information and creating a solid foundation for transitioning into parenthood.

Dr Barber says having a baby is awe-inspiring. “But it can also be a roller-coaster of emotions, decisions, and big life changes. We hope this app will help women enjoy the ride when they can, and hang on with confidence in the scary bits.”

Women who piloted the App found it really made a difference:

  • “This pregnancy has been very difficult juggling full time study, two young children, managing a household and the normal everyday hormones that come with pregnancy. After reading some of the articles about mental health etc I found them helpful and reassuring.”
  • “I think it is a great resource, especially for first time mums.”
  • “It's a great idea, and a good app for people with anxiety about their pregnancy.”

Download Positively Pregnant for Android and iOS. You can also check out the website.

Dr Barber presenting her app.

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