HomeParentingUBC Launches SmartParent: Canada's first text message prenatal and parenting education program

UBC Launches SmartParent: Canada’s first text message prenatal and parenting education program

Are you an expecting or new parent? Do you have lots of questions? Are you overwhelmed by all the different information and advice out there?

Developed by UBC researchers in collaboration with the BC Ministry of Health and BC Health Authorities, parents and health-care professionals, SmartParent is Canada’s first prenatal and parenting education program delivered by text messaging.

SmartParent sends three text messages each week starting from five weeks of pregnancy. Each message contains a link to additional online resources and information from reliable websites, including videos, interactive quizzes and questions to discuss with your health-care provider. After registering your due date in the program, messages will be scheduled to arrive according to your week of pregnancy, with information just when it is needed.

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Dr. Patricia Janssen, professor in the UBC School of Population and Public Health, reports “statistically significant improvements in knowledge, and scores on standardized measures of depression and fear of childbirth” with the use of SmartParent.

Janssen stated that, compared to healthy women not enrolled, users and their newborns have reduced lengths of hospital stay and fewer pregnancy complications. Parents report that the program supported them to reduce or eliminate their use of cannabis, tobacco or alcohol and to maintain a healthy level of exercise during pregnancy.

After giving birth, text “born” to start the parenting messages. They provide information about infant development, feeding, sleeping, emotional needs, safety and sibling relationships. They also address your needs as parents, for support and self-care.

Texts provide evidence-based information about the physical and psychological changes of pregnancy, what to expect during prenatal care and how to prepare for labour and birth. SmartParent also provides optional supplemental streams for parents who wish to have additional messages addressing special topics such as reducing use of tobacco, alcohol or illicit drugs, depression, obesity, maternal age over 35, violence in the home and vaginal birth after a prior cesarean section.

The parenting component of SmartParent was merged with the pregnancy component in March 2024 for a seamless transition from pregnancy through to the infant’s first birthday. The new SmartParent Forum, also launched in 2023, which offers a venue where parents may now talk to other SmartParent users in a listserv format.

Sign up for free by texting SmartParent to 12323 or by visiting the website smartparentcanada.ca.

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