Texting For Healthier Moms And Babies

Expectant mothers as well as new moms now have a cool tool to help them get through the difficulties of their pregnancies and their infant's first year: tips by text message.

The new service is sent by a company called text4baby and is provided free of charge by most wireless carrier companies within the United States. The mothers receive a maximum of three text messages per week. The information is timed according to their due dates or the baby's date of birth, and continues until the baby turns one year.

Sign-up is a breeze; mom just texts the word BABY, or BEBE if Spanish language text messages are preferred, and sends it to 511411. Mothers are then prompted to enter their due dates or the baby's date of birth, plus mom's zip code.

Encouraging Messages

For moms-to-be, the first text message encourages them to see their doctor as early as possible and to make sure to keep all of their prenatal appointments. But at the same time, the humble text message reminds mom that these tips are not to be considered as a substitute for a physician's advice or as medical treatment.

The concept of text4baby was developed by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) and received approval from several health professionals and government experts. The messages stay focused on topics that are crucial to the wellbeing of mother and baby including: cigarette use, alcohol and drug use, preventing birth defects, immunizations, prenatal care, nutrition, breastfeeding, labor and delivery, exercise, car seat safety, safe sleep, development guidelines, family violence, and much more.

Born Early

The text4baby website service hopes to scale back the high rate of premature births in the U.S. Today, half a million babies are born early and 28,000 die before their first birthdays. Elizabeth Jordan, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing as well as a board member of Health Mothers, Healthy Babies explained,

"We're trying to address the problem. We have over 300 messages we send based on the mothers' weeks pregnant or the baby's age."

High Risk

Jordan says that while any woman can sign up for the service, the main target includes lower-income, disadvantaged women, or Spanish speaking women. This population has limited access to books or the Internet, while texting is a very popular activity among women in their reproductive years and among minorities whose infants are at a high risk for mortality. 

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