Healthy Babies Healthy Futures text programme helps mums

27 April 2017
Healthy Babies Healthy Futures logo

A review of a text service for pregnant women and mothers in west Auckland has found that it led to self-reported improvements in diet and exercise.

The Healthy Babies Healthy Futures text match programme delivers educational and support text messages to pregnant women, new mothers of children under two and family members in the Waitemata DHB region.

The text messages are delivered to suit four culturally specific groups: Maori, Pacific, Asian, and South Asian.  The messages focused on three specific areas:

  • Improving women’s health during pregnancy and the postnatal period through healthy eating and physical activity
  • Promoting the healthy feeding of babies, in particular supporting breastfeeding
  • Promoting healthy feeding and physical activity in pre-school children.

The messages refer to New Zealand-based guidelines, but used culturally-specific language, food practices and traditions.

More than 1400 people have registered for the programme since it launched in 2014.

Of those, 260 opted to discontinue the programme, with the highest “opt out” rates coming in the Pacific and Maori groups (19.9% and 29.2% respectively).

Interviews with 52 recipients of the text messages revealed that all felt they were relevant and culturally appropriate.

Other revelations included:

  • 62% reported the programme improved their eating habits
  • 52% reported the programme improved their exercise habits
  • 72% reported improvements in their knowledge and understanding
  • 100% reported feeling supported by the messages.

All participants interviewed said they’d recommend the programme to others.

The authors say the programme has been a success.

“The engagement statistics and feedback from participant interviews have indicated that there is value in this process, with positive responses to the personalisation and relevance of the culturally tailored messages.

“Other benefits of the programme include the feelings of support reported by all participants and the inclusion of other family members receiving he messages.”

They note that there are limitations to the study including the small number of participants interviewed and potential sampling bias among those who agreed to be interviewed.

In conclusion, they say the text match programme can “provide access to health information, motivation, reassurance and support.”

The paper was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.  You can read the full paper here.