Does telemedicine during pregnancy really matter?

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Does telemedicine during pregnancy really matter?

Have you ever thought about using a pregnancy app, medical platform or any other telemedical solution? Imagine you are an expectant mother, your pregnancy time is peaceful and joyful. You share your good news (about the new member of your family) with the world. For many people this this story is a reality, unfortunately for many others it is only wishful thinking.

Worldwide 15 million babies are born preterm each year and over a million of these die of prematurity-related complications. A number of factors determine if a woman is at risk of giving birth prematurely, including a history of preterm births or late miscarriages.

Pregnancy, birth, and parenting are pivotal, biopsychosocial events in a woman’s life. Once a woman is pregnant, there is no turning back to a prepregnant psychology. The desire for motherhood appears to be based not only on an inherent biologic drive but also on identification of what is essentially female, although women do not need to have children to achieve a sense of femininity. Pregnancy is viewed as a developmental task, a time of crisis, and a critical phase by different social scientists. For many women, pregnancy is also an opportunity for growth and reworking of self-concept.1

1. The first trimester:

Pregnancy is not an easy time for expectant mothers.The physical ailments such as nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, and permanent exhaustion common for many women in the first trimester may compound ambivalent feelings and lessen the initial excitement of giving birth. Rofe and colleagues2 conducted a study of 282 women and found that all women, to some degree, experience an approach/avoidance of conflict with regard to delivery. Women want the pregnancy to end, but fear of the birth process promotes anxiety. Maternal concerns focus on both self and baby, and women experience a heightened sense of vulnerability as a result of the enormous physical changes of the third trimester.

2.The second trimester:

Then comes the second trimester when women usually feel better and are more physically active or simply they get used to normal pregnancy time complaints. In that time women start to ask questions, they are getting more interested in their pregnancy. They ask about a diet, weight gain, whether it is safe to exercise, what is changing in their bodies, what is happening with their child or what else will change or they should change themselves. This is the perfect time for educating them.

3.The third trimester:

The third trimester is that time in expectant mother life when she starts thinking about labour. This is truly an exploited topic. Women have many questions and concerns regarding childbirth. Does this really hurt? How does it look like? How long will it take?

Every time during pregnancy expectant mother can feel unsafe, unsecure, alone or misunderstood. According to American Journal of Epidemiology there is a positive association between spontaneous preterm labor and anxiety and depression. The strong role of depression that women with a low prepregnancy body mass index often experience could thus be demonstrated. In a similar way, a significant association was found between trait anxiety and the outcome variable in women with previous preterm labor. Concerning state anxiety, the association was close to significance in women with vaginal bleeding. The question arises: What can we do to help women in that joyful but tough time?

Many studies confirm that prenatal monitoring technology is effective:

  • Telemedicine allows prediction of premature delivery:
  • According to the Journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology the QUiPP app developed at King’s College London was found to perform well as a predictive tool, and far better than each component (previous pregnancy, cervical length or fetal fibronectin) taken alone. The authors conclude that the app can be used by clinicians to improve the estimation of the probability of premature delivery and to potentially tailor clinical management decisions.
  • Self-monitoring of vital signs during pregnancy is effective:
  • According to Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome self-monitoring of blood glucose is an important tool to treat diabetes during pregnancy. However, proper implementation to pregnant women requires understanding of its applications and limitations. Pregnancy is a unique short period of time in a woman’s life when physicians, diabetes educators, and healthcare professionals in general have the chance to provide information and education about diabetes and self-monitoring of blood glucose. It is an opportunity to educate women on prevention and correct interpretation of results, specialists should provide assistance to overcome barriers associated with proper diabetes care and provide long-lasting benefits to the mother and fetus.
  • The role of self-regulation activities:
  • According to Journal of Health Communication physical and psychological changes that occur during pregnancy present a unique challenge for women’s physical activity.  The study examines the effects of pregnant women’s physical activity cognitions (self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, and safety beliefs) and online self-regulation activities (goal-setting and self-monitoring) on subsequent changes in their physical activity intentions and behavior during pregnancy and immediately postpartum. Theoretically, this study offers a better understanding of the roles of self-regulation activities in the processes of goal-striving.

The following infographics shows more details according to pregnant women’s information-seeking behaviors via mobile.

http://visual.ly/webmd-pregnancy-survey-2013

Pregnancy could be easier with new technological solutions.  We should empower and support expectant mothers in healthy pregnancy journey. Using pregnancy apps, medical platforms or any other telemedical solutions make it easier to go through common physical ailments. Self-management tools show the power, that is in people.

 

  1. Carr M: Normal and medically complicated pregnancies. In Stewart DE, Stotland NL (eds): Psychological Aspects of Women’s Health Care. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1993
2. Rofe Y, Blittner M, Lewin I: Emotional experiences during the three trimesters of pregnancy. J Clin Psychol 49: 3, 1993

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