By Jessie Tu
Becoming a mum for the first time is a minefield, and for many women it’s both mentally and emotionally taxing.
That’s why a new app has launched with the aim of helping new mums improve their mental wellbeing by allowing them to track their mood during pregnancy and early parenthood. It also aims to help women recognise early signs of deteriorating mental wellbeing.
YourTime was developed by the University of South Australia and parent support group Village Foundation and responds to priorities in perinatal mental health (the period from the conception of a child through to the first year after birth).
Recognising the symptoms of maternal anxiety and depression can be tricky, but the new app aims to assist new parents to feel empowered to monitor their mental health, both during pregnancy and after birth.
YourTime will be the first evidence-based app to help women track their own mental wellbeing throughout pregnancy and after birth.
The app also includes helpful tips for mothers to maintaining a healthy wellbeing, including connecting with other people, staying physically active, doing new things to stay mentally agile, and meditating.
Associate Professor Lois McKellar, the lead researcher and midwife at the University of South Australia believes the new app will provide immediate support for women who are struggling with low mood or experiencing anxiety and depression.
“It’s natural for women to worry about the impending arrival of a new baby – they’re bringing a new life into the world, and they’re unsure about the changes that this little baby will bring,” Professor McKellar said in a statement.
“It’s also very common for new mothers to experience what is often called the ‘baby blues’ – being a little teary or anxious in the immediate days and weeks after the baby’s birth.”
“But if these feelings start to cause concern or stop a new or expectant mum from functioning normally, she may be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression.”
Professor McKellar believes the app will help new mums keep track of how they are feeling during pregnancy and motherhood, enabling them to quickly recognise any changes in mood, behaviours or feelings.
“Guided by a midwife avatar, women will be able to monitor their wellbeing over time, access education and support materials, as well as connect to other women and mothers via a networking forum,” she said.
“Importantly, it puts the woman in control, empowering her to be more aware of her thoughts and feelings.”
The app was developed with the help of scientific evidence and has been designed with input from mothers to ensure it is appealing and appropriate for Australian women.
The contemporary, easy-to-use design provides a de-medicalised approach to wellbeing, encouraging women to take the time to think about their mental health.
Professor McKellar hopes YourTime will save women and mothers from slipping through the gaps when it comes to their mental health, especially when their focus is on looking after a new baby.
“A generation ago, post-natal depression (the first year after birth) was often brushed off as the ‘baby blues’, even when it was actually something more,” she said.
“Now, people are more aware of perinatal depression and anxiety, but the supports are not always available at their fingertips. YourTime will ensure women feel connected, supported and informed at any time of the day or night – even at a midnight feeding – which makes it an extremely appealing tool to support mental health and wellbeing.”