IWK research study recruiting first time moms to receive text messages after birth

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by Nick Cox

Researchers with IWK Health and Dalhousie University have launched a new research study for first time moms that will provide text messages about caring for themselves and their baby during the first six weeks after a birth. The program, called Essential Coaching for Every Mother (ECEM), sends participants daily text messages that have been developed with input from moms and health care providers and are consistent with existing postpartum education in the province.

Justine Dol

“We know that the postpartum time can be challenging for women as they adjust to their new roles, especially for first time mothers. The COVID-19 outbreak has only made getting support and care more difficult and isolating. We want to bridge this gap. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of providing Essential Coaching for Every Mother to first time moms during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Justine Dol, the PhD in Health candidate who developed the program as part of her dissertation.

The benefit of this program is that the educational information as well as interactions with researchers occur remotely. Information is provided via text messages to mothers who sign up. These messages are personalized to each participant and can be customized based on whether a mother is breast feeding or formula feeding.

“Additionally, the study will explore the impacts of the program on COVID-19 and associated anxiety, maternal self-efficacy, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, and perceived social support,” adds Dol.

Study participants will be asked to complete two surveys – one when mom enrolls in the study and again at the end of the sixth week. In recognition of their time, participants will receive $20 egift card for each survey they complete. The surveys are completed online — either on a phone or computer.

“The team aims to use the findings from this feasibility study to launch a randomized control trial this fall examining the effectiveness of the ECEM program to improve maternal and infant wellbeing following birth,” says study supervisor Dr. Marsha Campbell-Yeo, clinician and professor at IWK Health and Dalhousie School of Nursing.

How to participate

Interested first time moms-to-be who are 37 weeks pregnant or more, and plan to deliver at IWK Health, can text “PREGNANT” to 902-702-6278 for more information and to sign up.

First time moms who have already delivered at the IWK (ideally less than 48 hours but not required) can text “BIRTH” to 902-702-6278 to sign up.

About the study

This study is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research held by a Faculty of Health doctoral trainee, Justine Dol, at Dalhousie University. Ethics approval for the project has been obtained from the IWK Health’s Research Ethics Board.