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

Tommy’s researchers have developed a tool that uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help expectant mothers stay happy and healthy throughout pregnancy. Our team is now trialling the tool to see how effective it is at improving mood and reducing anxiety both during pregnancy and after birth.
  • Author's list

    Professor Fiona Denison, Professor Rebecca Reynolds, Professor Chris Williams, Ailsa Corbishley

    Start date: April 2019
    End date: April 2021

  • Research centre

  • Research status

    Ongoing projects

Why do we need this research?

Struggles with mental health are common during pregnancy. Depression and anxiety can have effects on the health of both a mother and her baby, and mental health problems are the fourth most common cause of maternal death. Despite this, 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 by changing the way they think and act. The tool is easy to use and can be accessed on a tablet, smartphone, computer or even a Kindle.

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?

The team had planned to find out more about what women and healthcare professionals thought of ‘Enjoy your Bump’ before carrying out a larger, national trial of the tool. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in the number of pregnant women experiencing anxiety and depression, and so it is more important than ever that women have access to the best possible treatments to improve their mental health. Our researchers have therefore changed their plans and are instead rolling out ‘Enjoy your Bump’ as part of a research study in the Lothian region of Scotland. The team plan to assess the mental health of all women taking part before using the tool, after completion and 6–12 weeks after giving birth. The researchers hope that the tool will improve feelings of low mood and anxiety during pregnancy, while also giving women the skills they need to manage their mental health after the birth of their child.

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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