Clinical chair and professor of midwifery Deborah Davis is leading a team of researchers developing and trialling a smartphone app, Eating4two, which provides nutritional information and can monitor and graph weight gain during pregnancy.
The project received a Diabetes Australia Research Program award this morning, providing Professor Davis and her colleagues $59,081 towards their pilot study in 2016, which will involve around 80 women.
Professor Davis said about half of Australian mums-to-be gain excessive weight during pregnancy, increasing the health risks for both mum and baby, including gestational diabetes, high-blood pressure and birth complications.
“The app empowers women to take the lead in managing their gestational weight gain based on their pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI),” Professor Davis said.
“Our research has shown that care providers tend to avoid the topic of weight gain, as it can potentially be quite sensitive for women. But with the app, if their weight gain falls below or above the recommended level, the app will prompt them to discuss it with their maternity caregiver for individual advice.”
Professor Davis said current information offered to pregnant women about their weight is ad hoc, because there is no Australian standard.
“The old adage of ‘eating for two’ is causing more harm than good in this situation. Women’s bodies are incredibly efficient and the actual additional energy requirement adds up to about an extra banana a day,” she said.
“We are keen to see if gestational weight gain among women using the app falls in the recommended range, and then compare their experiences during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, and during birth, including complications and interventions required during labour,” Professor Davis said.
The Eating4two app has been developed for the Android system, but a proportion of the funding from Diabetes Australia will go towards developing an iOS (Apple) version.