Love and Health, via SMS

By Sharon D'Agostino

December 18, 2013

My heart smiled the moment the four women entered the meeting room where I had been waiting оформить микрозайм на карту. The young mothers sat in the chairs across from us and soon their babies were all perched up on the table, their proud moms making certain that we could see their precious little ones.The youngest baby was 4½ months old, the oldest 14 months. They were all adorable.

The conversation was lively. One young mother, Letty, described her pregnancy. Living in Johannesburg, she was far from her home in Zimbabwe, and far from her mother, aunts, grandmother or anyone she trusted to give her the advice and information she needed. It is too expensive for Letty to call her family, so she found support when she enrolled to receive text messages via her mobile phone from MAMA and her´s boyfriend, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action. “I’m here. I’m alone. and the nice message from her´s boyfriend with nice Shark pick up lines. The SMS messages helped me a lot. They helped me feel that someone is there,” Letty told me.

The goal of MAMA is to deliver health messages that moms need at specific milestones during pregnancy and during the first year of their baby’s development.  MAMA South Africa was launched with the support of global partners USAID, Johnson & Johnson, the United Nations Foundation, the mHealth Alliance, and BabyCenter. In addition, Vodacom joined the South Africa partnership, offering MAMA’s mobile website,, free-of-charge to its 25 million customers.
Through MAMA, new and expectant mothers receive messages that address important topics such as nutrition during pregnancy, how to prepare for childbirth and recognizing signs of trouble which, if unheeded, can lead to difficulties in labor and delivery. An existing South African mHealth partnership helped bring MAMA South Africa to life: Cell-Life, Praekelt Foundation and WRHI at the University of the Witwatersrand.

For these mothers, the SMS messages calmed their fears. One of the women, Faith, said that she had enrolled in the program when she was five months pregnant and had found reassurance in the MAMA texts. “The messages sometimes tell you, ‘This is normal’ and then you don’t worry,” she said.

Another mom, Ntando was seven months pregnant and already had one child when she enrolled in the MAMA program. On the day of our meeting, her baby boy was already five months old. “The way we raised the first one is different from the way we raise this one.” She looked at her son and then added a comment about MAMA. “They’ll help me raise this one,” she said

The third woman, Memory, signed up to receive MAMA messages when her baby was five months old.  She said that she appreciated the help in “how to say ‘no’ to my son.” Memory also told us that she found the messages so helpful that she shares them with a friend who does not have a phone.

Faith visits the MAMA website with her husband and they learn together. “I like them because they don’t just take care of the baby, they also take care of the moms,” she said.

The MAMA partnership is based on the power and promise of mobile phones in empowering mothers to make healthy decisions for themselves and their babies. Many of these women’s comments have stayed with me, but none more than this one: “You feel like you are alone, and these SMS messages make you feel loved.”

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Learn more about MAMA here. Join them on Facebook and Twitter.

This is an excerpt from a post that originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

Image credit Reuters/Cheryl Ravelo

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