When Diana Olsen, of Carver, Minnesota became pregnant for the second time, she was understandably nervous. In her own words, the 37-year-old was a hopeful mother on “high alert.”
Doctors warned Diana of potential risks with her advanced maternal age. She began taking insulin for gestational diabetes, but even more difficult, she struggled with deep grief for the baby she only briefly held in her arms.
Diana and her husband Lee lost their son Lincoln in August 2016 at 21 weeks of pregnancy, after she experienced pre-term labor. The couple sought out resources available to help them understand the risks associated with future pregnancies.
“Could it happen again? Will it happen again? And what things need to be done in order to make sure that it doesn't happen?” Diana said.
When Diana became pregnant with her now 20-month-old son, Quincy, she learned about the UnitedHealthcare maternity program, and began talking to a maternity nurse for support and guidance throughout that pregnancy.
Diana found herself relying on the program’s postnatal resources even more when Quincy was born seven weeks early, weighing 4 pounds and 10 ounces. He spent one month in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Approximately 1 out of 10 babies nationwide is born prematurely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is important to note because a recent study concluded that babies born early are more likely to have respiratory problems and developmental delays; in addition, premature births (defined as fewer than 37 weeks of pregnancy) account for 36 percent of infant-related deaths.
Diana knew these risks, so when she became pregnant with her now 5-month-old son, Beckett, she turned to the UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy® mobile app** and Maternity programs* for expectant mothers and new parents, determined to arm herself with more information, now that she had a “preemie” at home.
“It was so helpful to have a spot where I could go, where I didn't have to (search) and then click through every single website to try to get an answer; the app made it so much better,” Diana said.
Diana used the app to track symptoms, from gestational diabetes, to complications from a medical treatment to prevent pre-term labor. She often used the app to connect to her Optum maternity nurse throughout her pregnancy.
People eligible for the UnitedHealthcare maternity program can download the app onto their iPhone® and Android® devices to connect with a registered nurse 24/7. Pregnant mothers can monitor weight, set vitamin reminders, track appointments, receive weekly updates on the baby’s gestational age, and use a “kick counter” to track the baby’s movements.
As a UnitedHealthcare Regional Chief Medical Officer and OBGYN, Janice Huckaby, MD, assisted in the creation of the app. Dr. Huckaby also helps oversee the maternity programs used by Olsen and other families across the country.
“Mobile apps have become an integral part of our lives, in this case offering access to personalized information and on-demand support for women and families before, during and after delivery,” Dr. Huckaby said. “As women invest in their pregnancies, these resources can play a meaningful role in encouraging informed conversations between expectant mothers and care providers, while helping increase the likelihood of healthy, full-term deliveries.”
“A huge part of our role is emotional support,” said Krista Wagoner, RN, an Optum maternity nurse. “They have someone who is really following them along on their journey. So, the app is a way to get them connected to us, to be transparent about their goals and struggles so we can work closely with them.”
As a registered nurse, Wagoner speaks with dozens of expectant mothers each week by phone as part of Optum’s maternity support program, and sees the UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy mobile app as an important supplement to routine maternal care. The women she serves often submit their own health information into the app, which Wagoner says can help nurses tailor their support, which spans from pregnancy through postpartum.
Diana’s son Beckett arrived at 38 weeks of pregnancy, weighing 7 pounds and 15 ounces, perfectly healthy. She still uses the app to track his weight and feedings as a stay-at-home mother to her two boys.
“When I look at Beckett and I smile at him and his face just lights up and his little legs just get to kicking or watching how sitting with Quincy and teaching him something new and him picking it up just like that,” Diana said, “what's not to like about motherhood? Even the problems. I’m blessed to have it all.”
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.*The information provided under this program is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be nor should be construed as medical and/or nutritional advice. Participants should consult an appropriate health care professional to determine what may be right for them. Employers are responsible for ensuring that any wellness programs they offer to their employees comply with applicable state and/or federal law, including, but not limited to, GINA, ADA and HIPAA wellness regulations, which in many circumstances contain maximum incentive threshold limits for all wellness programs combined that are generally limited to 30 percent of the cost of self-only coverage of the lowest-cost plan and prohibitions on incentives to dependent children, as well as obligations for employers to provide certain notices to their employees. Employers should discuss these issues with their own legal counsel.
**The UnitedHealthcare Healthy Pregnancy application is only available to eligible members of certain employer-sponsored plans. Application registration is required.