A collaboration between South African NGOs is one of the first in the world to create a COVID-19 information platform for pregnant women and mothers as they grapple with so many unknowns during the pandemic.
Focusing on physical and mental health, they provide expert input on what many mothers are thinking about, such as the safety of pregnancy during the pandemic, how to protect a newborn from COVID-19 and ways to cope with stress.
The platform includes resources for coping with family violence during the lockdown and other pertinent topics.
“We created Messages for Mothers because we acknowledge that this pandemic is causing real anxiety for pregnant women and mothers,” said Julie Mentor, leader of Embrace, one of the partner organisations.
“Women are unsure of whom to trust, so we thought we could play a vital role.”
She said the platform aims to answer women’s questions and concerns by tapping into the “most qualified maternal, physical and mental health experts in the country”.
All the content is open-source and can be used by any person or organisation wishing to “connect mothers to accurate, kind and supportive content”, added Mentor.
Embrace and other NGOs in the coalition – such as Grow Great, the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP) and Ilifa Labantwana – have alerted their audiences to the resources via social media, but anyone can access the website and use the content.
Nomalizo Jaxa, a mother from Dunoon in the Western Cape, said the messages had been “building her up” and helping her emotionally.
“I get the messages sent through a WhatsApp moms’ support group,” she said.
Associate professor Simone Honikman, founding director of the PMHP, told TimesLIVE: “We hope that these messages may be incorporated into large distribution networks and digital health platforms, and we are working with key stakeholders to support this happening. We will be updating and developing new messages as the need arises.”
She said the team was working with senior roleplayers in the national department of health “where the messages may be deployed to ensure maximum reach”.
Tasmin Bota, mother to a newborn and also the founder of Preemie Connect, told TimesLIVE: “I love the fact that all these organisations have come together in support of moms. It’s wonderful to have your most concerning questions answered on one platform. I love how it has created a sisterhood just for mommies during this stressful time.”
Visit Messages for Mothers here to find resources across four focus areas.
This article by Tanya Farber was first published on 14 April 2020 by Times Live. View it here.
Tanya Farber is an award-winning journalist, author, editor, researcher and trainer.