More than 2,000 stillbirths occur in Malaysia annually, according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN). Both a miscarriage and stillbirth describe pregnancy loss, but they differ depending on when the loss happens.
The Asianparent is a pregnancy and baby care platform in Southeast Asia that has brought millions of parents together. Now it’s executing a plan to reduce stillbirth by 10% over the next 3 years, with a more specific goal being preventing 500 stillbirths in Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore by the end of 2020.
The team believes that one-third of the grief of losing a baby is caused by 3 major factors: Sleeping on the back after 28 weeks of pregnancy, not consulting a doctor when experiencing unusual fetal movement, and smoking while pregnant. On its free app, the team has developed several features to educate parents on healthy practices to prevent those factors, through gamification and social platforms.
The stillbirth prevention campaign is called Project Sidekicks, and it utilizes the Asianparent’s app for several activities. One of the features is called Kick Counter, where mums will log their baby’s movement for 60 minutes each day by counting and choosing what kind of movement they felt from their baby.
“Gamifying this task gets mums to focus on the fun. They can log each foetal movement as a tap, kick, jab, turn, swish,” Roshni Mahtani, founder of the Asianparent said. “At the end of it, they get a note on whether the patterns are normal or if medical attention is necessary based on prior sessions.”
As the third trimester can be a busy time for mums preparing for their baby’s arrival, the app can send them push notifications and alerts to remind mothers to do their kick counting. Making use of their online community, the team is pushing for—pun intended—pregnant women to sleep on their sides by using their second feature: “What’s your bedside view?”
“It is the trickier aspect to track but it is so important,” she said. “The team found a study that associates sleeping on the back in the third trimester had a 3.7-fold higher risk of stillbirth.” Sleeping on the left side, in particular, decreases the compression on a major blood vessel running down the right side of our back. This helps the baby get an optimal flow of oxygen and nutrients.
“What’s your bedside view?” works by getting pregnant mums to post photos of their viewpoint from the way they’re lying down. “No one wants to see photos of people’s ceilings, right? We look forward to seeing sunrise views, maybe a breakfast in bed tray, toddlers waking their parents up, hopefully no drooling spouses!” Mahtani joked.
The team hopes that this will subtly remind other expectant women in the community to sleep on their side. The whole process from conceptualization to launch took about half a year to develop and was done entirely by an in-house team.
“Rajan, our head of engineering, Mukesh, our head of iOS, and Vishal, our head of Android, are all dads so this was a project they felt incredibly passionate about and were so motivated to get very, very right and get to market,” she said. Since the app already has an active online community of at least 300,000 Malaysian users, they used this to their advantage when it came to market research and developing these features.
“We did our research by analyzing existing kick counting tools, surveyed mums online, and involved them in test groups not just to get their feedback on the functions, but also on the content we had in the Project Sidekicks tab,” Mahtani shared. The team also turned to local experts such as Dr. Ahmad Rostam of DoctoronCall for guidance.
The Asianparent launched another feature called Healing Mode in the app too, to support parents who have lost a baby from a stillbirth. “Healing Mode was created because we noticed drop-offs in our pregnancy tracker that we later realized were connected to stillbirths,” she said. “This is our small way of helping mums cope with such heartbreaking loss. In switching to healing mode, they get information on dealing with and moving on from grief, verified by experts.”
For them to reach their goals with Project Sidekicks, Mahtani told us that education is key. “Through our content platforms, we are able to share practical information on stillbirths and their prevention,” she added. “Aside from the kick counter on the app, we’re able to send targeted messages to users who are expecting a baby via push notifications.”
The 40-man Project Sidekicks team is also currently conducting monthly webinars featuring local experts like gynaecologists and psychologists to talk about mental health and provide advice for a healthy pregnancy.
This article was originally published by Vulcan Post.