Justine Dol, MSc, PhD(c)

Doctoral Candidate, Faculty of Health, Dalhousie University 

Research Trainee, MOM-LINC Lab and Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, IWK Health Centre 

Ms. Dol is a doctoral candidate with the Faculty of Health at Dalhousie University. Her doctoral research focuses on mother’s postpartum care experience and the opportunity of using mHealth to improve psychosocial outcomes. She developed Essential Coaching for Every Mother, a postpartum text message program that sends daily messages to first time mothers during the immediate six-week postpartum period.

Ongoing Studies:

Mothers’ experience of postnatal adjustment during six-months of caring for a newborn during COVID-19: A survey with postnatal mothers in the Maritimes 

(Co-Principal Investigator for this project with Ms. Richardson)

Rationale: Irrespective of a pandemic, mothers living in the Maritimes gaps in access to information and often struggle to find adequate support during the postpartum period. These gaps may be magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic and significantly impact the transition of new mothers. Compliance with physical distancing policies contribute to mothers isolating at home, without any in-person support, being physically isolated from not only health providers, but also from their extended family and support systems. This significantly differs from pre-COVID-19, where mothers were recommended to have a postnatal contact shortly after birth by a public health nurse and mothers frequently engage in visits with family, friends, or even new parent groups. Given the significant changes, we want to explore if and how the postpartum experience of Maritime mothers has significantly shifted during COVID-19. 

Objective: The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between mothers’ self-efficacy, social support, anxiety, depression, newborn pain management knowledge, and their health information seeking behaviour during the six-month period post birth of their newborn during COVID-19.

Eligibility Criteria: Women can take part in this study if they:

have a newborn less than six months of age

are over 18 years of age

speak, write and read English

currently live in one of the Maritime Provinces of Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island).

Study Details: Participating in this study involves completing a brief online survey (approximately 25 minutes). Participants will be asked questions about their postpartum experience, including their confidence, anxiety, depression, social support, and newborn pain management knowledge as well as basic demographic questions to help us understand the background of mothers who completed the survey. We will also be asking questions about how COVID-19 has impacted their postpartum experience. 

Once participants complete the survey, they will have the opportunity to enter for the chance to win one of three $100 CAN Amazon electronic gift cards.

The survey will be open until October 31, 2020. 

Future Implications: This information will help us to better understand the experience of mothers shortly after birth during COVID-19 and identify potential areas that could be improved to support mothers across the Maritimes.

How to sign-up:  If you are interested, please click on the link to participate: https://tinyurl.com/momlinc-covid.  If you would like more information, please contact Brianna (brianna.richardson@dal.ca) or Justine (Justine.dol@dal.ca). 

Feasibility of implementing Essential Coaching for Every Mother during COVID-19

Background:

Irrespective of a pandemic, mothers living in Nova Scotia and beyond face gaps in access to information and often struggle to find adequate support during the postpartum period. These gaps may be magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic and significantly impact the transition of new mothers. Compliance with physical distancing policies contribute to mothers isolating at home, without any in-person support, being physically isolated from not only health providers, but also from their extended family and support systems. In Nova Scotia all public health drop-ins are closed and midwifery-led home births and home visits are deferred during COVID-19 (Nova Scotia Health Authority, 2020). This significantly differs from pre-COVID-19, where mothers were recommended to have a postnatal contact shortly after birth by a public health nurse (Reproductive Care Program of Nova Scotia, 2002) and mothers frequently engage in visits with family, friends, or even new parent groups. With the sudden decrease in face-to-face support, innovative strategies, such as mHealth, are more important than ever. 

Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine the feasibility and acceptability of providing Essential Coaching for Every Mother during the coronavirus pandemic. Essential Coaching for Every Mother is a text message intervention that provides mothers information about caring for themselves and their babies from the period of birth to six-week after birth. 

The secondary objectives are to explore the impact of ECEM on COVID-19 associated anxiety, maternal self-efficacy, postpartum anxiety, postpartum depression, and perceived social support. All text messages have been developed and piloted with mothers and postpartum healthcare providers in Halifax. Messages are consistent with World Health Organization guidelines as well as the Loving Care books created by Nova Scotia’s Department of Health and Wellness. Messages were updated using the Government of Canada and World Health Organization guidelines and recommendations around mother-infant care and COVID-19.

Eligibility Criteria:

You can take part in this study if you:

Are a woman greater than 37 weeks pregnant and will give birth at the IWK for the first time OR a woman who has recently given birth for the first time at the IWK

Have daily access to a mobile phone with text message capabilities

Are over 18 years of age

Speak and read English.

Study Details:

If you want to participate, you will receive messages from Essential Coaching for Every Mother. You will receive a daily text message in the morning (10am) and evening (5pm) for the first two weeks, followed by a daily text message at 10am for the following 4 weeks. Three times during the first two weeks, you will receive a third message at 1pm. All messages will be sent within six-weeks after your baby was born.

Once you are enrolled after you have given birth, you will be asked to complete a survey and it should take approximately 40 minutes. 

At six-weeks, you will receive a text message from our study team to complete an online survey. The survey will take about 45 minutes to complete. 

The survey at both times are similar. You will be asked questions about yourself and your baby, your confidence in caring for your baby, your social support, as well as be asked questions regarding potential anxiety and depression. You will also be asked questions about coronavirus specific anxiety and stress. You will also be asked to provide feedback on the messages during the six-week follow-up survey and questions around postnatal health seeking.

Study will run until October 15th or until 75 participants have been enrolled, whichever comes first.

To Join:

If you are 37 weeks pregnant or more and plan to deliver at the IWK Health Centre, text “PREGNANT” to 902-702-6278 for more information and to sign up.

If you are early postpartum (ideally less than 48 hours but not mandatory) and delivered at the IWK Health Centre, text “BIRTH” to 902-702-6278 for more information and to sign up.