Utah Cardiologist, Mother Creates App To Help Women Adjust To Motherhood
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The physical and emotional demands placed on new mothers can often be overwhelming. One Utah mother created a way for women to find the help they need.
Hannah Raasch has her hands full. She just gave birth to her third child this year, and does her best to keep up with her other two kids.
“It’s tough to be a baby sometimes, isn’t it?” she told her crying two-month-old baby, Jett.
But Raasch knows it’s also tough to be a mom sometimes. She’s been a cardiologist with Intermountain Healthcare for about seven years. She could pull off a 36-hour shift with ease, but becoming a mom was totally foreign.
“After the birth of my daughter, it was really a big transition for me,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing. I knew how to be a heart doctor, [but] I didn’t know how to be a mom.”
Raasch said she had no idea who to reach out to.
“It’s a skill no one taught you how to do, that you have to learn on your own and it was a challenge,” she said.
She turned to the internet for postpartum resources but found limited information.
“I’d see pictures of women in bikinis holding three month old babies,” she described.
Those unrealistic expectations helped her realize moms needed better resources to help them adjust to motherhood. Even as a busy working mother, she knew something needed to be done.
“I had this crazy idea that maybe I could do something about it,” she said.
She created an app called Babies Help Mommies.
Raasch was trying to lose the weight she gained during her pregnancy, but couldn’t leave her baby to go to the gym.
“The answer is, you don’t have to do some crazy workout program– you can get fit being mom,” she explained.
She realized mothers expend a lot of energy in their daily routine caring for their children.
“I started realizing how many extra calories I was burning if I was carrying my baby around, or by pushing a stroller because of the added resistance or by breastfeeding,” she said.
Raasch calls them “Mom Calories.” The app tracks movement and gives tips for exercising with baby in tow and even while pushing a stroller.
“We often think of mothers giving, giving, giving, and they do, but our children give a lot back to us,” she said.
Raasch said a mother’s health improves simply by caring for a child. For example she said breastfeeding can lower mom’s risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancer, diabetes, [and] high cholesterol.
The app track more than just physical health. Another mom, Heather Dopp, started using the app to monitor her mental health.
“Some days are really good and everybody wakes up happy and you have a great day,” she said.
But other days her efforts feel in vain.
“I go to bed every night? Like, why am I tired? I didn’t do anything today? Why am I so exhausted?” Dopp said.
Dopp experienced perinatal depression during both of her pregnancies. She records her mood in the app regularly for depression screening.
If there’s a red flag, the app alerts the user and connects mothers to Postpartum Support international for professional help. Raasch said it’s designed to screen mothers for peripartum mood disorder.
She said women are often screened for depression in their doctor’s office right after birth once, but rarely receive any follow-up afterwards.
“There are many times where you could have an emotional roller coaster after the birth of a child and might need help,” Raasch explained.
The app also lets moms document special moments through pictures like a baby’s first step or smile. “This can even be used as a milestone tracker for when you go in to see the pediatrician,” Raasch said.
She calls that section of the app “Mom-oirs”—a play on the word memoirs.
Dopp loves documenting memories of her kids through this feature.
“If I’m sitting in bed, and I think of something that’s really cute that happened today, I can just hurry and put it in my app and save a picture and then it’s there,” she said.
She said it’s an easy way for her to remember why motherhood is worth it.
“You just get a sense of pride like I can do something right. I’m changing your life– a little one, but I am changing life,” Dopp said.
The app also allows moms to track their sleep and provides scientific articles from doctors about how mothers can get better sleep and nutrition, practice mindfulness, and breastfeed.
You can download the app for free on the Apple Store. Raasch said the app will be available for android users soon.