Pilot study reveals positive impact of digital support for pregnant women and new mums

MUTU System and Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust reveal results of lockdown pilot

The MUTU Solution helps pregnant women and new mums to deal with some common symptoms including bladder weakness and diastasis recti

A pilot study into the use of a digital support programme for pregnant women and new mothers during the Coronavirus lockdown has recorded significant improvements in health and wellbeing.

MUTU System has released the results from its partnership with Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust (NNUH) which saw 110 expectant and new mothers using an online exercise and support programme.

Running between April-July last year, the pilot assessed the efficiency and effectiveness of digital postpartum care during, and after, the pandemic.

We have been incredibly pleased with the results of the pilot study, which has clearly outlined the physical and mental benefits of medically recommended and clinically-proven digital services for over 100 mothers

It also ensured maternity patients received safe and credible pelvic health solutions and postnatal rehabilitation during the lockdown.

And the results show that:

  • 95% of women saw improvement in bladder weakness
  • 91% saw diastasis recti improvement
  • 95% felt better about their body function
  • 76% of women claimed to feel physically stronger
  • 59% felt more self-confident and 40% mentally stronger

The pilot was led by Lucy Eggleton, operational lead specialist physiotherapist for the pelvic and maternal health physiotherapy team at NNUH; and MUTU System founder, Wendy Powell, during the height of the initial lockdown period, with the objective of digitally supporting pregnant women and new mums who were unable to attend their face-to-face NHS consultations for pelvic health issues and discomfort.

The main referral for the programme was abdominal separation, otherwise referred to as diastasis of rectus abdominis muscles (DRAM), an extremely-common symptom for postpartum women.

The study was also designed to analyse the efficiency and effectiveness of enrolling maternity patients at a major UK NHS trust to a clinically-proven digital postpartum programme to assess potential future practice across several other NHS trusts.

For women unable to attend face-to-face women’s health consultations at NNUH due to safety precautions, we knew it was absolutely necessary to develop a partnership to contribute towards supporting them with crucial guidance during this period

MUTU System is a 12-module digital programme, officially assessed and approved by NHS Digital, which has supported over 75,000 women in more than 150 countries over the past decade.

It is proven to improve physical symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, painful sex, and diastasis recti, which can lead to embarrassment, anxiety, discomfort, and a lack of confidence.

Participants received a survey at the start of the project, then at the three, six, nine and 12-week mark, with questions based on clinical surveys including EPAQ PF, Female Sexual Function Index, urinary distress inventory, the Kings Health Questionnaire, and Pelvic Organ Prolapse Distress Inventory 6.

The clinical trial showed a 91% improvement in bladder weakness and improvements in mental and physical wellbeing

And the results focus on three key areas of women’s health – sexual wellbeing, urinary symptoms, and quality of life.

Commenting on the results, Powell said: “We have been incredibly pleased with the results of the pilot study, which has clearly outlined the physical and mental benefits of medically recommended and clinically-proven digital services for over 100 mothers.

“The pandemic has put an incredible mental strain on pregnant women and new mothers, who have had to face up to increased periods of anxiety and isolation in the midst of the unprecedented health challenges facing NHS trusts in the UK and around the world.

“For women unable to attend face-to-face women’s health consultations at NNUH due to safety precautions, we knew it was absolutely necessary to develop a partnership to contribute towards supporting them with crucial guidance during this period and we hope this can point towards the sustainable success of medically-assessed services working in tandem with the NHS.

“The MUTU System programme has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms, which can often be the source of anxiety and a lack of confidence for mothers who are unsure of how to deal with the changes that their body goes through pre and post childbirth.

“For example over 90% of participants reported improvements across bladder weakness and diastasis recti at the 12 week mark, with 95% saying they noticed a change in the way they felt about their bodies.”

It has been great to see that many women have found relief from these symptoms through participating in the MUTU programme alongside physiotherapy and moving forwards this will be a programme we are happy to support and refer our patients onto

Eggleton adds: “Having made contact with Wendy in 2019 after hearing about the MUTU System, we were really pleased to have a digital service to offer women alongside postnatal physiotherapy in the acute hospital setting.

“The hope was that this would help women to engage with their post-natal recovery in a way that fitted around their daily routine with a newborn.

“But then the pandemic made it impossible for us to see our patients face to face, so it was brilliant to be able to team up with Wendy and the MUTU System to be able to run a clinical trial.

“This enabled us to offer a digital treatment option alongside physiotherapy to women who presented to the team in pregnancy, or postnatally, particularly those with diastasis of the rectus abdominus muscles (DRAM).

“We were able to see patients on the postnatal ward following delivery of their babies and offered the trial to those who would benefit from guided post-natal rehabilitation; in particular patients with a significant diastasis.”

On the results, she said: “It has been great to see that many women have found relief from these symptoms through participating in the MUTU programme alongside physiotherapy and moving forwards this will be a programme we are happy to support and refer our patients onto.”

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