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First-time Mothers' Understanding and Use of a Pregnancy and Parenting Mobile App (The Baby Buddy App): Qualitative Study Using Appreciative Inquiry.

Bailey, Elizabeth, Nightingale, Samantha, Thomas, Nicky, Coleby, Dawn, Deave, Toity, Goodenough, Trudy, Ginja, Samuel, Lingam, Raghu, Kendall, Sally, Day, Crispin, and others. (2022) First-time Mothers' Understanding and Use of a Pregnancy and Parenting Mobile App (The Baby Buddy App): Qualitative Study Using Appreciative Inquiry. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 10 (11). Article Number e32757. ISSN 2291-5222. (doi:10.2196/32757) (KAR id:98677)


Internationally, there is increasing emphasis on early support for pregnant women to optimize the health and development of mothers and newborns. To increase intervention reach, digital and app-based interventions have been advocated. There are growing numbers of pregnancy health care apps with great variation in style, function, and objectives, but evidence about impact on pregnancy well-being and behavior change following app interaction is lacking. This paper reports on the qualitative arm of the independent multicomponent study exploring the use and outcomes of first-time mothers using the Baby Buddy app, a pregnancy and parenting support app, available in the National Health Service App Library and developed by a UK child health and well-being charity, Best Beginnings. This study aims to understand when, why, and how first-time mothers use the Baby Buddy app and the perceived benefits and challenges. This paper reports on the qualitative arm of an independent, longitudinal, mixed methods study. An Appreciative Inquiry qualitative approach was used with semistructured interviews (17/60, 28%) conducted with new mothers, either by telephone or in a focus group setting. First-time mothers were recruited from 3 study sites from across the United Kingdom. Consistent with the Appreciative Inquiry approach, mothers were prompted to discuss what worked well and what could have been better regarding their interactions with the app during pregnancy. Thematic analysis was used, and findings are presented as themes with perceived benefits and challenges. The main benefit, or what worked well, for first-time mothers when using the app was being able to access new information, which they felt was reliable and easy to find. This led to a feeling of increased confidence in the information they accessed, thus supporting family and professional communication. The main challenge was the preference for face-to-face information with a health care professional, particularly around specific issues that they wished to discuss in depth. What could have been improved included that there were some topics that some mothers would have preferred in more detail, but in other areas, they felt well-informed and thus did not feel a need to seek additional information via an app. Although this study included a small sample, it elicited rich data and insights into first-time mothers' app interactions. The findings suggest that easily accessible pregnancy information, which is perceived as reliable, can support first-time mothers in communicating with health care professionals. Face-to-face contact with professionals was preferred, particularly to discuss specific and personalized needs. Further studies on maternal and professional digital support preferences after the COVID-19 global pandemic and how they facilitate antenatal education and informed decision-making are recommended, particularly because digital solutions remain as a key element in pregnancy and early parenting care.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.2196/32757
Uncontrolled keywords: digital, mobile phone, COVID-19, Infant, Mothers, Female, pregnancy apps, antenatal support, Infant, Newborn, Child, Parenting, Humans, State Medicine, antenatal education, communication, Pregnancy, pregnancy, Mobile Applications
Subjects: H Social Sciences
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research > Centre for Health Services Studies
Funders: University of Kent (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2022 15:24 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022 15:24 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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