By Daphne Metland/International Editor, BabyCenter
I am in Manila, admiring 15-year-old Marie’s two-week-old baby. Her two sisters, five nieces and nephews and grandmother are peering through a gap in the wall of the two-room home they all share.
It’s obvious that Marie already loves her new baby, but knows very little about how to care for her. I praise her for breastfeeding her daughter, and Marie’s face lights up. She wants to do the very best she can for her baby and she is happy to have the information and encouragement.
New and expectant mothers like Marie are too often denied the basic and timely health information they need and deserve to ensure a healthy pregnancy and the best start for their infants.
Moms everywhere need just the right information at just the right time. BabyCenter, part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies, is already providing women around the world with the timely information, support and helpful reminders they need to have healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and healthy families. Using the Internet, we reach 25 million mothers in 20 countries every month with specific, personalized messages using our “ages and stages” system.
Neither Marie nor her sisters or neighbors have Internet access. However, they all have mobile phones and, therefore, a powerful link to the information they need.
Reaching women like Marie is the commitment of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA).[i] MAMA – a public-private partnership founded by United States Agency for International Development and Johnson & Johnson with support partners the United Nations Foundation, mHealth Alliance and BabyCenter – is engaging an innovative global community to deliver vital health information to new and expectant mothers through mobile phones.
As part of MAMA, BabyCenter is contributing its extensive pregnancy and motherhood knowledge and experience to create basic, adaptable health messages that can be tailored for mothers in low-income settings. Our adaptable messages are organized in a stage-based format, using the mothers due date and the baby’s birth date, and they blend vital health information with delightful details about the baby’s development to motivate expectant and new mothers and encourage positive behavior changes that lead to healthier pregnancies, deliveries and newborns. Our messages are carefully reviewed and approved by an advisory board of experts.
In order to reach as many moms like Marie as possible, we are now providing these adaptable messages for free[ii] to other programs that are using mobile phones to inform and empower new and expectant mothers in low-income settings.
Each organization can adapt these messages to accommodate the cultural norms and specific health needs in each country or region.
Organizations that adapt and use these messages will be asked to share their adapted versions with MAMA, so that they can contribute to an online library that will serve as a resource to others. In early 2012, MAMA will also begin offering guides and learning sessions to organizations on how to adapt and use our content, which can be downloaded now.[iii]
MAMA and BabyCenter are committed to improving maternal and infant mortality, and the experiences of pregnancy and motherhood for mom’s like Marie. We can reach Marie and others like her and put the power of health in every mama’s hand.