Every Mother’s Day, we celebrate the strong women who brought us into the world. At Jacaranda Health, it’s our job to support women on the journey through pregnancy and birth, making sure that mother and baby leave the hospital safe, healthy, and confident. One of our successful tools is a set of carefully crafted text messages to support mothers with information and ‘nudges’ to ensure that they receive the best care during the postpartum period, a time that is critical to the health of mothers and babies.
Half of mothers in Kenya receive no postnatal care within the highest risk 48 hours after childbirth, and 90% of women have unmet need for family planning at 3 months postpartum. There are 67 million unintended pregnancies every year worldwide, and half of all pregnancies occur within 24 months of a child being born, which is associated with increased pre-term birth, and infant and under-five mortality. Effective use of family planning after a baby is born has important implications for both mothers and their children.
Tackling short birth intervals starts with empowering mothers with timely information about family planning. We all know the selfless, exhausted mother who just wasn’t sure when she needed to worry about fertility again. After birth, the tendency is for the attention of both mothers and health providers to shift to the baby, creating a gap in information and reminders about family planning.
Considering all these factors, Jacaranda Health developed PROMPTS (Promoting Moms Postpartum with Tips & Signs), a low-cost package of text messages that women receive on their mobile phone after they give birth. To measure the true impact of PROMPTS in 2017, we ran a rigorous evaluation with 900 women in three public hospitals in Kiambu County, Kenya. 300 women received targeted messaging around postpartum family planning and birth spacing. The women who received these messages were twice as likely to have taken up a family planning method by two months postpartum compared with women who
didn’t receive the messages. PROMPTS messages also review the danger signs for women and babies in the days immediately following birth and recommend follow-up visits to hospital if any danger signs are flagged. The goal is that the text messages prompt women to seek care… and it is working.
In 2018, Jacaranda Health is expanding PROMPTS to reach thousands more women delivering at public hospitals in multiple counties. Partnering with busy public hospitals, we are putting up posters that encourage new mothers to self-enroll to receive the free messages. We check every response we receive from the messages and flag emergency medical concerns so that the women can be urged to seek additional care quickly.
At a cost of $0.32 per person, we are equipping women with essential information and empowering them to take care of their family, so that the benefits reach the next generation and beyond. Today we celebrate empowered and informed mothers in Kenya, and all around the world!