Helping New Moms, One Text at a Time

April 11th, 2014

by Tamara Grider
Director of Marketing and Communications, Text4baby
National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) 

My journey working in maternal and child health began almost two years ago with Text4baby, a service of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. Although I was aware of the various health disparities underserved women face every day, I was shocked to learn that there are so many women who struggle to have a healthy pregnancy. I’ve seen the simple, yet momentous occasions of when many of my friends have entered motherhood, and was naively unaware of the amount of preparation, research and support needed to stay healthy and bring a healthy child into the world. And I’ve recently learned that every mother that makes it through labor and every child that is born is a blessing not to be taken for granted, regardless of background. I’m reminded each day through stories from our moms, like Jacqueline.

Jacqueline was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GDM) during her second pregnancy. Diabetes during pregnancy increases the chances of having high blood pressure, needing a cesarean section at deliver and getting type 2 diabetes later in life. She became overwhelmed with how to manage her own health during this high risk pregnancy, while growing a healthy new life.

Luckily Jacqueline was in a situation to get good medical advice and regular care. Her wellness nurse suggested that she manage her blood sugar by eating healthy, being physically active and taking insulin shots, as needed. There were also many tips and support available through the National Diabetes Education Program and local groups to help manage her health.

Another one of her nurse’s treatment recommendations was to sign up for Text4baby. Through the service, created in partnership with founding sponsor Johnson & Johnson, she started to receive information on a wide variety of health topics that any mom would need, including baby’s development, safe sleep, nutrition, signs of labor and breastfeeding, but also received information specific to her needs around gestational diabetes. She later said, “Text4baby reduced my stress about treating my diabetes….it felt like I had someone there for emotional support with medically sound information, who truly cared how I was doing throughout my pregnancy.”

Statistics show us that Jacqueline is not alone in her struggle to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Surprisingly, the United States ranks near the top of the list among developed nations in infant mortality due to lack of health information, lack of access to care and poverty.

Without proper medical care and services like Text4baby, moms like Jacqueline might not have a chance to receive to lifesaving health and safety information. Having a healthy child is a gift. I am now acutely aware of the numerous struggles women face, and feel humbled and honored to be able to offer a service that helps them make decisions that lead to healthier pregnancies.

Text4baby is currently a featured cause on Johnson & Johnson‘s Donate a Photo app. If you would like to help a mother give her baby a healthier start, download the app; with just one photo a day, you can help support Text4baby’s mission of delivering critical health and safety information to pregnant women and new moms.

This piece originally appeared in Huffington Post's Global Motherhood series.