Bonnie Roupé, Founder and CEO of Bonzun, the company that creates tools designed to support women and their families during pregnancy, comments:

Something we don’t always realise is  that pregnancy is something that affects every single person on this planet – many of us give birth, and all of us are born. However, despite the monumental leaps that have taken place in the world of medicine, the actual process of pregnancy has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Mothers-to-be are still treated like children, not adults – the information shared with them is doled out in small portions, the dangers downplayed; the stereotypes of a joyous and glowing pregnant woman still prevail, putting unnecessary pressure on pregnant people to portray an image they might be far from feeling. Pregnancy tech aims to change all of this and give the power back to the mothers-to-be, arming them with the necessary tools and knowledge to ensure a calm, and most importantly, safe, pregnancy.

I founded Bonzun, the company dedicated to building tools to support women throughout pregnancy, as a direct result of my own experience. When I was pregnant with my second child, I developed pre-eclampsia, a potentially life-threatening condition that endangered both me and my unborn child. I didn’t know the danger we were in, because I didn’t know what symptoms I should be looking out for, or what words I should be using to look up my symptoms online. I was fortunate and received timely help, so that both me and my child were safe and healthy. However, further research indicated that my experience was far from unique – a 2018 World Health Organization report found that an estimated 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day. The same report also states that the vast majority of maternal deaths are preventable, which suggests that the main cause of these deaths is a lack of information and knowledge.

Addressing this knowledge gap is one of the main reasons for the existence of pregnancy tech – as innovators, we want to provide accurate, reliable and up-to-date information to pregnant women. In Bonzun’s case, the My Pregnancy app provides  information about the baby’s development week-by-week, as well as outlining the bodily changes the mother can expect while the pregnancy progresses. Users are also able to consult a virtual midwife about any unusual symptoms they experience and see which conditions these correspond to. I firmly believe that women should be armed with as much information as possible, and the go-to advice shouldn’t always be ‘consult your doctor’, as this can lead expectant mothers to downplay their symptoms or ignore them for longer than is wise. The other benefit of knowing and understanding your symptoms is of course the fact that is financially beneficial – after all, preventing and treating complications at an earlier stage is much more efficient. Similarly, having access to reliable information from the comfort of their own home, means that healthy women don’t need to book doctor’s appointments as often, freeing up valuable medical time.

The second component of pregnancy tech is to alleviate some of the pressures faced by pregnant women as their pregnancy progresses, specifically about their emotions and their appearance. There is a certain expectation for women to feel happy all the time while they are pregnant, which is not only unrealistic, but also completely impossible – pregnancy causes hormone levels to fluctuate continuously, while the birth of a child is both terrifying and exciting. Pregnant women do feel happy, but they can also feel tired, moody, irritated and annoyed. Similarly, the media has a tendency to glamorise pregnancy – one only has to look at Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle to see the ‘expectations’ – a ‘glowing’, beautiful woman, always smiling, and wearing high heels. It is important that we remember that these women are in the public eye for a relatively short amount of time, that they have teams who help them curate their look and that we, as the public, are not privy to the day-to-day realities of their pregnancies. Pregnant women are beautiful, but they can also be tired, sick, swollen and uncomfortable.

Ensuring the health and safety of both mother and child is at the core of pregnancy tech. I feel that given the right tools, as well as reliable and scientifically accurate information, we can reduce maternal mortality rates, as well as the number of stillbirths worldwide. And if we can make every pregnant person feel like their experience is wonderful and completely normal, regardless of what they look like or what they are wearing, then that’s just a fantastic bonus.