Guest Post: How MAMA plans to help new mothers with mobile phones

May 19, 2011
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Tina Sharkey, BabyCenter‘s Chairman & Global President, is a pioneer in the development of leading consumer media brands and new media applications that bring value to consumers’ lives. She has more than 20 years of experience in the evolution of new media, ranging from the introduction of HDTV to the forefront of Web 2.0. Tina has […]

Tina Sharkey, BabyCenter‘s Chairman & Global President, is a pioneer in the development of leading consumer media brands and new media applications that bring value to consumers’ lives. She has more than 20 years of experience in the evolution of new media, ranging from the introduction of HDTV to the forefront of Web 2.0.

Tina has been featured as a Top Leader in Technology by Businessweek, Fast Company, USA Today and Advertising Age, and currently serves on the boards of the Interactive Advertising Bureau and ad-tech.

Tina has led BabyCenter to become the Web and Mobile’s #1 global interactive parenting and pregnancy destination, reaching more than 25 million parents across 22 markets worldwide every month. She has also positioned BabyCenter as the established leader in providing mom insights and innovative interactive marketing solutions to the world’s leading brands.

Tina is also a strong believer in BabyCenter’s emotional connection to moms and its role in guiding them on their journey through motherhood. As part of that effort, she has been an advocate for new global mobile health initiatives that will empower women to take a more active role in their own health and the health of their children.

In my job I get to talk to a lot of moms. The most important thing I have learned is that while the journey of motherhood is universal, every mom’s needs are personal.

Recently, as we were working on one of our initiatives where BabyCenter is providing undeserved moms and moms-to-be with health information on their cell phones, we sent a team to India to conduct focus groups with pregnant women. As I reviewed the video of this group, there was this one woman I was watching; she held the phone to her ear and listened to a voice message. And although I don’t speak Hindi, I knew from the smile on her face the very moment when she heard that her baby already has a heartbeat, even though it is only as big as a poppy seed. Information delivered via a mobile phone has the power to break through because it is a personal, individual, intimate experience.

There is so much attention given to smartphone use in the United States, but it is the basic mobile phone at the other end of the spectrum that has also caught our attention. With so many mobile phones available to women throughout the world, mobile can be one of the only ways a woman receives evidence-based, quality information during her pregnancy.

That’s why it is so important for us at BabyCenter to work with our colleagues at Johnson & Johnson in the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA) partnership which was announced by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, just before Mother’s Day. BabyCenter will develop content tailored to women in poor areas, as well as develop a version tailored to women who are HIV positive and pregnant.  And we will lend our expertise gained from working with the 25 million moms all over the world who use our websites each month.

For example, we will send regular health and hygiene messages to help mothers avoid infections. We will send reminders to new mothers that it’s time to have their baby vaccinated (this is the most effective way of savings babies’ lives anywhere in the world). And we will help HIV positive mothers reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to their baby by sending them timely reminders about taking medication and having key tests done in the right week of pregnancy.

Also, since it’s always hard to decide when to call your doctor when your baby is ill, and if you are poor and medical help is hours away on rough roads, it can be even harder. So we have created messages about key health issues — like fever — to assist mothers in their help-seeking decisions.

And here’s why we think this will work. We know that a woman is at the center of the health of her family. She is the advocate; she is Dr. Mom. The importance of giving new mothers access to pregnancy and parenting information is crucial. Although the opportunity is bigger than merely giving them information on nutrition, signs of labor, and vaccines. It’s the fact that this information actually empowers women to take an active role in their health and understand that they have the ability to make decisions that will make a difference for their babies, their families and their communities.

I urge you to check out the MAMA website for more information. I assure you that you will look at your mobile phone in a totally different light.

Also, check out BabyCenter’s My Pregnancy Today for iPhone and Android, as well as Birth Class for iPad.

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Tina Sharkey

Tina Sharkey, BabyCenter's Chairman & Global President, is a pioneer in the development of leading consumer media brands and new media applications that bring value to consumers’ lives. She has more than 20 years of experience in the evolution of new media, ranging from the introduction of HDTV to the forefront of Web 2.0.

Tina has been featured as a Top Leader in Technology by Businessweek, Fast Company, USA Today and Advertising Age, and currently serves on the boards of the Interactive Advertising Bureau and ad-tech.

Tina has led BabyCenter to become the Web and Mobile’s #1 global interactive parenting and pregnancy destination, reaching more than 25 million parents across 22 markets worldwide every month. She has also positioned BabyCenter as the established leader in providing mom insights and innovative interactive marketing solutions to the world’s leading brands.

Tina is also a strong believer in BabyCenter's emotional connection to moms and its role in guiding them on their journey through motherhood. As part of that effort, she has been an advocate for new global mobile health initiatives that will empower women to take a more active role in their own health and the health of their children.

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