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What is Positively Pregnant?

History

The joys and challenges of pregnancy…

Going way back, this app was probably conceived…or preconceived…in the early 1990’s, when I (Carrie Barber) was starting my family.  I had two miscarriages, and then a kind of stressful pregnancy, with preterm labour, hospitalisation, two months of bedrest, and finally a planned caesarean because my son was transverse (lying sideways, and all tangled up).  So I was acquainted in all sorts of ways with the ups and downs of pregnancy, and when I made some changes to my career, I decided to focus on how I might help other women who might be having challenging times during the process of becoming mothers.

Mothering in New Zealand

The New Zealand system of care for mothers and new babies is outstanding, in the world context…yes, it has its gaps and thinning places.  However, it does provide a model of maternity care centred on the ongoing relationship between an LMC and a mother, and well-child care that also has at least the promise of a collaborative, educational, supportive relationship to foster healthy development of the child and the whanau.  That’s a good place to start from!

The physical needs of mothers and whanau are relatively well taken care of, and there are plenty of sources, these days, for information about all that—books, websites, apps, magazines can all tell you about how big your baby is, what’s up with his little eyelashes, what you should and shouldn’t eat, and how much weight you shouldn’t have gained already.

The Mind as well as the body

It’s a lot harder, though, to find information about the emotional and social side of pregnancy.  How does it change your relationships?  What if you don’t feel happy, when everyone is thinking you should? How shall we decide on a name, and what traditions do we want to carry on in our family? What if you’re terrified of the birth?

That’s the gap we wanted to fill with Positively Pregnant—providing information about all of the emotional and social changes, and a chance to use the time during pregnancy to think and prepare, in healthy, positive ways.

Positive Psychology

Positive Psychology is an approach to using the principles we’ve learned in psychology—about how people think, feel, develop, and connect with others—to support people to survive and thrive in the sometimes stormy journeys they face.  This includes what we’ve learned about how to help people be their best selves—using their creativity and compassion to do great things in the world.  It also includes helping people who are struggling with stressful times to recognize and use their strengths, to find their resilience, and to know when to reach out to others for help.

Positively Pregnant includes activities and principles from positive psychology, as well as information and activities based on research in New Zealand and overseas about coping with stress, healthy development, and the typical challenges of pregnancy and early parenting.

Development of Positively Pregnant

In 2015, we were planting seeds and planning…We developed the first ideas of things to include, and developed and tested questions on strengths, resources, stressors, strategies for coping, health information and habits, and styles of thinking about control and making choices.

In 2016, we did a survey of midwives and mothers, asking them what they envisioned being most helpful in this kind of an app.  We developed the content—writing the Find Out information, and recording the audio narration (with the help of the lovely voices of some drama students), and found a programmer (yay Sebastian!) who could work with us to put it all into an app that really worked on different platforms and phones and all that techy stuff.

In 2017, we did a pilot study, where we asked 88 women from all over New Zealand to try out the app and give us feedback about how it worked, and what we could do to improve it.  You can see some of the results of that pilot under “Research” if you’re interested.

In 2018, we took the feedback from the pilot, and from further testing of the app, and included as much of it as we could in the current BIG LAUNCH version!

And on into the future—it’s still a work in progress, and there will be updates and improvements.

Guided Tour

The Big Picture

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Pictorial Overview of the Positively Pregnant: The App

On the opening screen, you’ll see suggestions for things to do in the app and tips of the day, as well as being able to access your personalised feedback and ideas for coping.    If you’ve put your gestation in Setup (upper right), you can also see how big your baby is, and get a little bit of information about baby’s development this week. From here, you can explore the four different types of modules in Positively Pregnant:

Know Yourself: These ask you questions and ask you to rate your strengths, resources, stressors, coping strategies, support systems, health behaviours, cognitive style, and emotions.  For each one you complete, you will get feedback with suggestions, links to information, or ideas for improving wellbeing.  You can find this feedback either within the Know Yourself module, or in the My Feedback icon on the opening screen (this will appear once you’ve done some KY modules)

Do Something (DS):  These are a variety of activities you can do to relax, plan, and take care of yourself.  They range from relaxing narrations on breathing and stretching to a log of what you’re grateful for, to setting goals for yourself about healthy habits.

Find out (FO):  This is information about 30 different topics having to do with the changes and challenges of pregnancy and parenting, with links to online resources for services and more information.

Conversations (CO):  This provides a structure and topics for conversations with your partner, whanau, LMC, or just for your own reflection on things like birth planning, household chores, financial changes, and childrearing beliefs, traditions, hopes and plans.

Video Guided Tour

Future Plans

Partner version - Partners are too often left on the fringe of things, walking alongside the pregnant mother, but not knowing quite how to fit in.  Partners are included in the basic app now, mainly in Conversations (also in Know your Style), but we hope to develop a version of the app specifically for partners, with the capability of linking with the mothers, and sharing information and feedback.

Postnatal extension - It doesn’t exactly stop being challenging when the baby is born…not at all…and most of the activities and tools in PP are certainly relevant to early parenting—you can use it the way it is, but someday we hope to add to the information, and adapt a few more things like Tips of the Day, to create a postnatal extension so the app will keep on growing along with the baby.

Mentor version - Some people have someone who is a special support during their pregnancy—maybe an especially involved midwife, or a counsellor, or the teacher in a teen parent unit.  Those people can be really important guides along the way, and we’d like to develop a version of the app that would allow them to interact with women using the app, give personal advice or sharing and reflecting on feedback.

Teen version - Young mothers have some of the same, and some different types of challenges and interests.  We are considering whether to develop a teen version of the app, and/or some content developed especially for young mums.  In fact, we are looking for young mums (16-20) to try out the app and give us their ideas for this—if you’d be interested in helping with this, please contact us at Positivelypregnant@waikato.ac.nz.