NUS’ pilots “Home-but-not Alone” app to help new parents make smooth transitions

Researchers at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine have developed a novel mobile application to deliver postnatal educational programmes. The app also provides the postnatal supportive care on the go.

Findings from a pilot test showed that new parents who use the app experienced significantly better parenting outcomes, NUS said in a press statement on June 5, 2017. 

Photo courtesy: NUS
Photo courtesy: NUS

The early postpartum period is often a challenging but crucial period for new parents. They typically feel anxious or overwhelmed while trying to cope with their new role as a parent. 

“There’s a gap in existing postnatal supportive care in Singapore. Here, the average length of stay for mothers post-delivery is two to three days and early discharge within 24 hours is also not uncommon," said lead researcher Assistant Professor Shefaly Shorey. "

"It is not possible to carry out such educational interventions smoothly and effectively for these short hospital stays. New parents, especially, feel overwhelmed by the amount of information given to them by their healthcare providers during their short stay, and some have difficulties retaining the information," she added. 

Photo courtesy: Wiki
Photo courtesy: Wiki

The ‘Home-but-not Alone’ app was developed to address the current gap in the continuity of care for new parents between the maternity ward and home setting. The aim is to help couples make a smoother transition to parenthood.

“The app is specially designed to deliver postnatal psychoeducation to new parents who are not confident in caring for their newborn on their own. This provides additional support to help parents cope with the challenges of parenthood and newborn care,” Asst Prof Shorey explained.

This app was piloted over a period of six months from December 2015 to May 2016 with a total of 250 participants. 126 of the participants (63 couples) received the educational support via the app and were compared against a control group of 124 participants (62 couples).

The early-postnatal educational app was found to boost the parenting confidence of new parents. It assured the new parents of better perceived social support and hence encouraged them to proactively seek help when they encountered uncertainties. In addition, the app also brought them greater parenting satisfaction – all of which positively affect their emotional and general well-being.

“Although postnatal education programmes are beneficial, the focus remain primarily on mothers. Based on our previous studies, both mothers and fathers, alike, would like to have fathers be more involved in the caring for their newborn. Fathers often feel that they lack the confidence and know-how. The delivery of the programmes through this mobile app is able to help overcome this challenge. It equips fathers with child-caring information and a helpline at their fingertips so they are more empowered to step up and take on a more proactive role.”