Following the recent release of their new app for mothers, Drs. Barry Zuckerman and Cyndie Hatcher spoke with HOPE Research Assistant, Loren McCullough about how the questions, information, and parent videos provided in Small Moments: Big Impacts (SMBI) can brighten the outcomes of parents and children. Dr. Cyndie Hatcher also discussed her experiences working with parents in primary care settings, and her use of SMBI’s resources to encourage growth of the 4 Building Blocks of HOPE for families.
Dr. Hatcher – Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your work on Small Moments: Big Impacts?
Dr. Cyndie Hatcher (CH): My interest in Small Moments has been truly captured by my entry into motherhood. I noticed my interactions with my patients changed tremendously because I was able to have that first-hand experience of the challenges that every mom has… Not just the challenges of taking care of a child, but [also] taking care of yourself, and the loneliness and the exhaustion on a day to day basis! And I did not understand that at all before I became a mother.
And so after experiencing it for myself, [I saw] that there is this huge opportunity for providers to meet families where they are post-partum! I now understood that we can be engaging them and actually normalizing these experiences. Instead of just weighing the baby, and [say something] like, “Oh, the baby’s growing!”, we can relate with families more about their home supports for baby, trusted individuals for the family, and their goals, among other things. The visit could be so much more uplifting for mothers!
That really is what drew me to Small Moments – it’s filling an unmet need, and reaching the heart of [the supportive] physician to family relationship we want.
Could you address how you think Small Moments: Big Impacts supports the Four Building Blocks of HOPE?
Dr. Barry Zuckerman (BZ): One of my goals in doing this [was that] I really wanted to create something scalable that all parents could get. I’ve started [similar] programs, and they spread because they met an unmet need, but the limitation was always cost. So I did not want money to be a barrier to this critical information.
CH: The app is completely free. This is a resource that we want every family to be able to access – not just those who can afford it.
SMBI truly is getting at the emotions that a mom deals with [having] a baby that is less than six months, and the challenges that exist – it doesn’t provide answers to typical health questions that people assume you get from a medical app. But it does provide some information about how to promote wellbeing, mindfulness, and reflection. So [SMBI provides] an opportunity to reflect on things. It prompts you to reach out to your social networks, and to the people you love and care for. In a way I think it does bridge that gap for families who have [limited] access to these resources. I think there’s so much bundled [together] that families who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to access these things are getting it in our app.
BZ: In my experience, most of the [medical health apps] have good or even great information but are not really engaging – so the goal was engagement. We went really to the heart of a mother’s emotions, both positive and negative, because that’s just part of the real world. And in the videos, the mothers talk about their stresses and past history, which includes adversity, but also their hope and aspirations.
There’s one section in text about baby science – it’s a small bit of developmental information about sleep durations, crying durations, and other things. There’s [another] one called the “Mood Meter,” and it has about six different moods that are positive and negative. We tell a mother they can pick [multiple moods], because everyone has more than one per day! And there are all these reflection questions after that, with the hope that they will either speak to their provider or their support system. There is a section “About You,” which provides information about mothers’ health and well-being…
The other thing that was interesting that the mothers [who assisted with development] actually wanted – they told us music and humor were important! So each week starts with a catchy tune and a cartoon.