Being mindful of the bumps: app to help pregnant women and new mums

Mind the Bump is a free app to help women manage the stress of pregnancy and early motherhood.
Mind the Bump is a free app to help women manage the stress of pregnancy and early motherhood.  Photo: Getty Images

In the whirlwind of pregnancy and new motherhood it can be easy to forget about the need to have some much needed quiet time every so often.

With this in mind, mental health support organisations beyondblue and the Smiling Mind have launched Mind the Bump, an app which aims to help manage the stress that comes with pregnancy and caring for a baby.

The free, clinically-based app focuses on mothers, as well as their partners, from the time of conception until a baby is two years old by encouraging mindful meditation.

Users of the app listen to meditations that directly relate to the changing emotional and mental needs at each stage of the pregnancy and the postnatal period.

Psychologist and Smiling Mind ambassador Liv Downing says mindfulness is an ancient practice which involves not worrying about the past or future, instead paying attention to the present moment with purpose and without judgement.

"The practice of mindfulness and mindfulness meditation can help everybody, but for new and expecting parents in particular it will help them ride the waves of change they are experiencing with more grace and ease and less fear," she said.

The meditations include titles such as 'Acceptance' and 'Managing Change' and run for between three and 10 minutes each.

Ms Downing voices some of the meditations featured on Mind the Bump, as does pregnant television presenter Carrie Bickmore. 

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Beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman believes Mind the Bump has the potential to help thousands of women due to its accessibility and ease of use.

"At least one in seven women will experience postnatal depression and up to one in 10 will experience it during pregnancy," she said. "Anxiety conditions are thought to be at least as common as depression during this time.

"Even for those who don't experience mental health problems, pregnancy can often lead to feelings of uncertainty and fear.

"But with Mind the Bump, new and expectant parents need only a few minutes to listen to the guided meditations on their smartphones to start easing stress, clearing the mind and reducing the risk of developing a mental illness, such as depression or anxiety."

Ms Downing helped create the app and recommends pregnant women and their partners start using it as soon as they know they are pregnant.

She says there are three main ways parents-to-be benefit by using the app.

"Firstly, things will become more clear because they will step out of their mind and be more available to focus on what is actually happening in that moment," she said. "Secondly they will be calmer, which is invaluable when caring for a new baby.

"Thirdly, they will their improve connections not only with their baby, but with their partner and other family members too."

Ms Downing has practiced mindful meditation since pregnant with her now five-year-old son, and says she could not imagine her life without it. 

"It becomes an essential part of your life and after you get a feel for it, you can tell when you need to put some time aside for it."

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS ANTENATAL AND POSTNATAL DEPRESSION

Almost 10 per cent of women will experience depression during pregnancy. This increases to 16 per cent in the first three months after having a baby.

* Feelings of unhappiness

* Poor appetite

* Insomnia

* Low self-esteem

* Loss of libido

* Fear of being alone, or fear of the baby

The free Mind the Bump app is available for on Google Play for Android and the App Store for iPhones

New and expecting parents who need urgent support should contact the Post and Antenatal Depression Association's helpline on 1300 726 306 between 10 and 5pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively, they can call beyondblue's Support Service 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1300 22 4636.