Text 4 Baby:Sentara joins text program for pregnant women

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Sentara Health System is joining a national effort to help women get more information about their pregnancies through their phones.
Sentara is partnering in nationwide program called text4baby, which provides pregnant women with information regarding their health and their child’s health during and after their pregnancies.
“It’s a free mobile information service with messages around maternal and child health,” said Diana Behling, the manager for patient care services for labor and delivery and the OB Right Program at Sentara. “This is a really helpful way to add to (office visits) as it helps women with reminders.”
Through the program, women can sign up for updates by entering their due date, and they receive approximately three text messages every week from their sign-up through their child’s first year.
The messages cover a variety of topics, including prenatal care, nutrition, and labor and delivery.
They also cover subjects that are important after the child is born, such as breastfeeding, sleeping problems and oral health.
The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition launched text4baby to help mothers gain more information about taking care of themselves and providing the best care for their babies, according to the text4baby website.
The group worked with companies and organizations, like the Department of Health and Human Services and Johnson & Johnson, to start the program.
Behling said the program’s sponsors really impressed Sentara when the system was looking to join.
“They got the backing of a lot of good organizations,” she said.
Behling said Sentara first experienced the messaging system when a group of physicians at Sentara Leigh Hospital tested the service.
“I think the good thing about this is the information is all researched,” she said. “The messages are sound.”
After the test period, Behling said, the entire health system decided to recommend the text service to their pregnant patients.
“Sentara joined as a partner supporter for the program, and we’re really pushing it out to all of our pregnant patients,” she said. “This is a really helpful way to add to that, as it helps women with reminders.”
Behling said the text messages are a way for patients to become more active participants in their health care, which is good for both the patients and the doctors.
“I think it’s always best if patients are involved participants in their care, and by having these reminders, it can spur good conversations between the patients and physicians,” she said. “I think it’s just a great way to keep that information coming throughout the pregnancy and keep them connected to their providers. More informed patients are better patients.”
Although the information is general, Behling said, she thinks all pregnant women can benefit from using the service, even ones who have had babies.
“Even though if you’re having that third baby and you’re experienced, medicine and science is always changing,” she said.
By Emily Collins

She added she thinks a third-time mother would be busier than other pregnant women, and the text messages would be a good way to remind her of important dates.While the messages coincide with the participant’s due date, they are not personalized.
Additionally, Behling said, the text messages should be a supplement to their regular office visits — not a replacement.
“It’s not to replace at what happens in the office,” she said. “But it’s a great way to use the technology that everyone has.”
She said Sentara is trying to keep its patients informed and active in their care by all the means it can, and using text messages is especially effective as more tech-savvy generations reach childbearing age.
“They don’t really use email; they use their phones,” she said. “You have to evolve as an organization to keep current with the ways people are communicating.”

“I think technology is always evolving, so if you’re going to keep your eye on keeping patients informed you have to consider the technology,” she said.
For more information on the program, visit www.text4baby.org.

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