A validated pre-natal and postpartum adaptive SMS program that provides pregnancy resources to improve perinatal health literacy and pregnancy outcomes. Used by thousands of parents across multiple health authorities in Canada, the program was co-created with the University of British Columbia.
What is SmartMom?
SmartMom is Canada’s first prenatal education program that sends women text messages to:
- Provide information and link to evidence-based resources
- Suggest topics of conversation with providers
- Direct women to local resources
The message set is dynamic and anchored to the woman’s due date to be relevant to each week of gestational age for individual participants.
These messages focus on accessing knowledge, undergoing assessment, and adopting behaviours to support healthy pregnancy and psychological birth. Visit Smartmom Canada
Currently Used By: Northern Health, Fraser Health, Vancouver Coastal Health, Interior Health, Island Health, and BC Women's Hospital
SmartMom is an interactive program where women take quizzes, learn important information such as counting calories and other dietary tips, what to expect during labour and coping strategies through videos. The program also offers a level of personalization with supplemental messages. Women can choose to receive additional messages based on topics that are relevant to them including reducing alcohol intake, managing tobacco intake, personal safety in relationships, having a first child after 35 and more.
Our evaluations to date have demonstrated significant improvements on knowledge tests and standardized measures of anxiety, depression, and fear of childbirth at completion of the program. 99% of all participants have indicated they found the program useful, and the information provided in the messaging comprehensive and reliable.
SmartMom has been actively in use since 2016 and has started to scale with the several BC provincial health authorities. This program allows for regional/provincial/state and municipal tailoring of content for messaging to participants.
A review of studies indicates that less than one third of women attend prenatal classes and instead, are turning to the internet, especially smartphone pregnancy apps, to navigate the complexities and challenges of pregnancy and birth. There are concerns about the quality of this information. In addition, information available from the internet is potentially overwhelming in its sheer volume, exacerbating the difficulty of identifying accurate, relevant, evidence-based, and unbiased information.
An overview of 370 apps found on the google play store showed only 3 with scientific boards contributing to the information.
Finally, there are concerns about the completeness and timeliness of information that is not organized to provide the right information to the right person at the right time. Therefore, women are not sufficiently prepared to make informed choices to promote a healthy birth. This can be particularly relevant for at-risk and vulnerable populations.
Attending a prenatal education class has been associated with positive health behaviours, such as appropriate weight gain, acceptance of routine screening tests, a decrease or stopping of smoking and alcohol consumption and breastfeeding. Following these behaviours have been associated with reduced rates of cesarean and preterm births and low birthweight.
A survey conducted in Ontario showed only 25% of participants were informed of the risks associated with inappropriate weight gain. Another study in 2009 stated 80% of participants believed the influenza vaccine given during pregnancy caused birth defects.
SmartMom was developed by Optimal Birth BC in partnership with the BC Ministry of Health, BC Regional Health Authorities, the First Nations Health Authority, and Perinatal Services BC in consultation with pregnant women, new mothers, and practicing nurses, doctors, midwives and experts in environmental health and nutrition. SmartMom has been endorsed by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada.