It's not easy being pregnant. Everything can feel very foreign and nerve-wracking. Of course, it's not totally realistic to run to your doctor every time you get a little nervous about something. Every time you worry your blood pressure might be a little higher than you'd like, for example, it'd be so much easier if you could just check it at home rather than make an appointment to see your doctor, right? Well it looks like the National Health Service's (NHS) maternity app will be able to provide moms-to-be across the pond with just that. Over the next few years, expectant moms in Great Britain will be able to monitor aspects of their pregnancy from home with the help of an app, and it's actually pretty revolutionary.
Back in 2018, the NHS, England's publicly funded health care system, offered 100,000 pregnant women a trial run to register for a new maternity app it was considering offering as a service in the future, according to The Independent. The new app gives pregnant women the opportunity to monitor baby's movements themselves at home, save things like scans and birthing preferences, and even helps them locate the nearest maternity ward in case of emergency. It sounds like a wonderful tool for busy pregnant women who might live too far from their doctor's office, have older children with them, or are perhaps working and find themselves strapped for time when it comes to receiving proper medical care.
The pilot run appears to have been a success because the NHS announced that it will be fully launching the app — called BadgerNet Maternity Notes App, which can be used on a smartphone, PC, or tablet — for all pregnant women across the country by 2024. Immediately, according to the NHS announcement, "The ambition is to provide 100,000 women with access to their electronic record by October 2019."
One of the most important elements of the new app to help improve overall maternal health will be an at-home blood pressure monitor that connects to the app for women who suffer from high blood pressure, according to The Telegraph. This is especially important for pregnant women because pregnancy hormones can cause blood vessels to get wider, and reduce resistance to blood flow, as Healthline explains. High blood pressure can cause serious conditions in pregnancy, such as preeclampsia, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Expectant mothers will also be able to access their medical records and even professional advice through the app, which is expected to help save the lives of 4,000 babies in the United Kingdom by 2025, according to The Telegraph.
Professor Jacqueline Dunkley Bent, chief midwifery officer of England, told The Independent in a statement, that this new app will "bring care closer to home" for many pregnant women. "Expectant mums and their partners rightly want more say over their care and more information about how things are going during pregnancy, and that’s what we are delivering through the NHS Long Term Plan," Bent told the publication. "Digital maternity records bring women’s care closer to home, giving them more control over their pregnancy and care, and in surroundings and at times that suit them."
It's important to note that this app is meant to act as something of an at-home companion to regular medical care throughout your pregnancy as opposed to an alternative. Every pregnant person should be seeing a qualified medical professional throughout her pregnancy. This new app, while revolutionary for helping expectant mothers feel more comfortable with their health at home, cannot replace actual care of course. But it's certainly a step in the right direction.