iMumz: this mobile app is helping pregnant women with health advice during the coronavirus lockdown
Due to coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown, people are confined to their homes to curb the spread of the disease. Normal life has almost come to a standstill, and this might cause anxiety to a number of people.
Pregnant women feel more stressed as they are unable to go for their regular checkups and reach out to their doctors for timely advice.
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- a pregnancy app has come forward to help expecting mothers during the 21-day lockdown period. The platform is hosting live AMA sessions and addressing queries of pregnant women with the help of more than 100 experts including obstetricians, nutritionists, yoga and mental health experts.
Focus on holistic health
According to Pruoo Health Tech Pvt Ltd, the company that has launched the app, at least 28 million Indian women are pregnant during this period. Focusing on holistic health of both mother and baby, the app aims to provide information and interaction via activities to help expecting mothers looks after themselves and their babies.
Beginning with British psychoanalyst John Bowbly’s work with Attachment theory in 1969, several research studies have shown that a child’s personality development is affected by the mother’s behaviour and bonding during pregnancy. Some research has also shown a link between prenatal stages and future diseases and mental health.
Echoing these results, Dr Jaideep Malhotra, Co-founder of Pruoo says, “We know that the origin of most of the diseases is from the womb of the mother. We call this fetal origin. Adult diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity, many cancers, and more take in the womb. Because of increasing C-section rates and women getting very anxious about delivery, there is not a lot of bonding, which affects the personality building of the child. All that has to begin from early pregnancy stages, so the journey has to be more holistic.”
Dr Jaideep is an obstetrician who has delivered over 10,000 babies. She has also served as the President of Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India (FOGSI) in 2018.
She is a vocal advocate of holistic pregnancy and started the program, ‘Adbhut Matrutva’ during her presidential tenure to help women experience an enjoyable pregnancy and change the approach of doctors towards treating pregnant women.
The company was started by two IIT Varanasi alumni - Ravi Teja Akondia and Mayur Dhurpate along with Rajesh Jagasia, a life coach and meditation expert and Dr Jaideep Malhotra.
(Left to right) Dr Jaideep Malhotra, Rajesh Jagasia, Ravi Teja Akondi and Mayur Dhurpate - the founders of the company behind the app, iMumz
Ravi and Mayur graduated from IIT in 2017 and gave up corporate offers to start up in the health sector as they were regularly meditating and engaging in holistic health practices through their volunteering activities at Art of Living centers. Witnessing the benefits of these practices, they wanted to spread information about a holistic approach to human health. After interactions with over 100 people including gynaecologists, pregnant women, prenatal and perinatal psychologists, they decided to start iMumz to help expecting mothers in 2019. Through research they were able to narrow down that the antenatal stage was most crucial in a child’s future development.
Help during the COVID-19 crisis
“Due to this COVID situation, we are getting more questions, pregnant women are more concerned and panicking because they are supposed to go for their regular checkups and they are not able to. Doctors are advising them to come only if it is an emergency. They are not able to go out and are limiting their physical activity and all these can take a toll on their mental health also.”
To help women during this stressful time, iMumz decided to provide live 360 support. It is conducting live AMA (Ask Me Anything) sessions on its YouTube channel every day with obstetricians, nutritional experts, mental health specialists, and others. It is also organising 6-7 doctor sessions everyday with meditation sessions in the morning. In this period, the app receives over 200 queries each day. All these are available free of charge.
On the app, women can engage in activities that stimulate their creativity and make them aware of the benefits of mindfulness. It offers mental exercises, music therapy, conscious breathing lessons, nutritional advice, fetal learning, physical activity and more. These activities help them bond with their babies and reduce their stress and worries.
iMumz currently has over 15,000 users with 1200 to-be-mothers joining the platform every week and 2,500 daily active users. The company was supposed to launch a premium paid version on April 1 to continue to provide credible information free of cost to pregnant women during the lockdown. It is also planning to include remote consultation sessions in the future.
Advice to pregnant women
Coronavirus cases in India have increased to 1,300 with 32 deaths as of March 30. The Health Ministry has said that India has not reached the community transmission phase yet. However, precautions have to be taken seriously by everyone to stay safe and healthy.
For pregnant women, Dr Jaideep says,
“As immunity levels are lower than normal during pregnancy, women need to be very alert and take all precautions so that infection doesn't happen. Until a week back we were thinking that there is no mother-to-child transmission of the infection. This week we have come to know there is a possibility, so we need to understand this.
She suggests that one must take all the necessary precautions like washing hands, sanitising the area around, and take Vitamin C and zinc supplements that are immunity boosters. If you have a high temperature, severe cough, consult or call your doctor immediately.
These are trying times, but through hygienic practices, social distancing and adhering to medical advice, we can remain safe and prevent the virus from spreading.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)