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Information is Power

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Information is power.

Many years ago, I learned just how true that statement is.

In the mid-90s, I graduated law school and began working as a prosecutor in Chicago’s juvenile court. It was a job that was both rewarding and heartbreaking.

I witnessed many women having babies and struggling to raise them with no support, no training, and no help. They desperately wanted to be good mothers, but didn’t have the tools they needed to be successful.

They didn’t know what to feed a 6 month-old baby, or how often a diaper should be changed, or how to take care of themselves while pregnant.

They had no information. Without information, they were powerless.

As I became pregnant with my own children and became a mom, I’ve often thought back to those women. I’ve wondered how different their lives, and the lives of their children, might have been – if only they had been given the critical health information they needed at just the right time. Of the four million babies born annually in the United States, 500,000 infants are born prematurely and 28,000 die before their first birthday.

That’s where text4baby comes in.

text4baby is the largest mobile health offering of its kind. Expectant or new mothers use their cell phones to sign up for the service and enter their due date or baby’s birthday. Each week, the mothers receive free text messages with key health information that is customized for their stage of pregnancy or their baby’s age.

There are over 250 specific messages covering the topics that concern moms the most, such as breastfeeding, immunizations, prenatal care, substance abuse, car seat safety and oral health.

text4baby just celebrated its third anniversary with over 500,000 subscribers and over 67 million text messages delivered. This commitment to empowering moms with information seems to be having a profound impact. A recent evaluation of the service, conducted by George Washington University, showed that text4baby moms were nearly three times more likely to believe they were prepared to be mothers than the control group. A study by UC San Diego and the National Latino Research Center demonstrated that the service helped moms to remember appointments or immunizations, learn medical warning signs and link to resources.

That’s pretty powerful stuff.

But for as big as text4baby already is, it needs to continue to grow and reach new moms every day, so we can continue this amazing mobile chain of information and empowerment.

So think about where your life intersects with women who might be in need of vital prenatal and newborn care information: playgroups, church, school, or community programs you’re involved with – and share text4baby with them.

Visit text4baby’s website for more details about how the service works. Signing up is easy. Text “BABY” (or “BEBE en Espanol) to 511411.

You can also check out this video interview with a real-life mom for whom text4baby made a difference. Inform and empower another mom today!

Inform and empower another mom today!

Gigi Ross is a wife and mom of two kids (a 10 year-old boy and an 8 year-old girl) living in San Diego, CA. Gigi works as a content and community manager for Johnson & Johnson. A blogger and writer in her spare time, Gigi’s work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Babble, BlogHer and Mamapedia. She keeps her personal blog at KludgyMom.

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