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M4M: Providing vital info for mothers in the uncertain times of Covid-19

Written by: Paula Luckhoff

Just before the national lockdown was implemented, a group of organisations got together to address the need for basic information and reassurance mothers were likely to experience.

A mother holds her New Year's Day baby at King Dinizulu Hospital in Durban. Picture: Nkosikhona Duma/EWN.

Africa Melane finds out more from Dr Simone Honikman, director of the Perinatal Mental Health Project at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

It's a digital platform where information is on a website and can be spread through social media and on whatsapp.

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

We realised there was a gap in terms of reliable and helpful and supportive messaging for mothers around corona issues.

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

She says there's a lot of misinformation about the virus and its spread and especially who is at risk.

M4M's messaging covers a range of concerns, starting with physical health.

I think for pregnant women and for postnatal women, when they're very anxious quite often about the health of their families and their children, we developed physical health messaging - a whole batch of physical health messages around 'Should I still take my children for immunisation?' (of course), 'Should I breastfeed? (yes, please), 'Should I go to my clinic appointments?', 'How do I protect my children in the home when people are going out to work every day?'

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

Another messaging pillar is around mental health.

We think that mothers in the peri-natal period in pregnancy, in that first year, and perhaps mothers of small children now in lockdown are at greater risk of experiencing mental health challenges at this time.

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

Domestic violence has also increased, as we know. People are under enormous strain. Families are under strain. Violence and tempers are flaring... so we've got that domestic violence messaging and pillar under the mental health pillar.

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

M4M's messaging includes info on mindfulness and they're working on their "parenting in the pandemic" messaging.

The platform also provides appropriate helpline numbers.

Because many women do not have access to smart phones or data, the organisations have added other channels to get their message out like the community health worker system and a number of radio stations.

We've very, very pleased - we've had this wonderful win in the last few days in that the messages have been taken up on the national Covid whatsapp line... under the menu item conditions, where there is a sub-menu item called pregnant.

Dr Simone Honikman, Director - Perinatal Mental Health Project

Visit www.messagesformothers.co.za for more information. (They are also looking for volunteers to help translate the messaging into more languages.)

Listen to the conversation with Dr Honikman below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : M4M: Providing vital info for mothers in the uncertain times of Covid-19




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