Enjoy Your Bump: using online tools to improve mental wellbeing during pregnancy

Fiona Denison, Rebecca Reynolds, Chris Williams, Ailsa Corbishley

Tommy’s researchers have developed a tool that uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help expecting mothers stay happy and healthy throughout pregnancy. Our team is now in the process of setting up a national trial for the tool.

Start: April 2016

End: December 2020

Why do we need this research?

Struggles with mental health are common during pregnancy, and depression and anxiety can have effects on the health of both a mother and her baby. Mental health problems are the fourth most common cause of maternal death, and the effects of perinatal depression on the health of both mothers and babies costs around £8.1 billion a year in the UK.

Depression during pregnancy often isn't treated: many drugs aren’t safe to use during pregnancy, and there simply aren’t enough relevant mental health services. We want this to change. 

What is ‘Enjoy Your Bump’?

Researchers supported by Tommy’s have developed an online package specific for pregnancy called ‘Enjoy Your Bump’. It uses techniques based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This is a type of therapy that helps people to manage their mental health issues through changing the ways that they think and act. The tool is easy to use, and can be accessed on a tablet, smartphone, PC or even a kindle. It is unique, as it is the only online resource shaped to address specific questions around pregnancy, as told to us by expecting mothers.

Our researchers have tested the Enjoy Your Bump tool in a small pilot study. This involved women who were identified at their first midwife appointment as being at risk of developing depression. In the pilot study, the team found that Enjoy Your Bump reduced depression and anxiety in these women.

The feedback from women about Enjoy Your Bump has been very positive:

 “It made me realise I'm not alone”

“Practical and thought-provoking course”

“Made me re-evaluate my priorities and the way I see things”

What’s happening with the project now?

Our researchers now want to move on to test the Enjoy Your Bump tool more widely, and eventually trial it in Scotland and England. Before they can do this, the team need gather more opinions from women and health care professionals about the tool. This will help our researchers to understand the challenges they might face when setting up a national trial of the Enjoy Your Bump tool, so that they can plan the national trial to ensure its success.

What difference will this project make?

If successful, this project could provide pregnant women across the UK with a new online tool to help them deal with depression and anxiety. Providing mental health support to mothers will help improve wellbeing for them and their babies.

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