“Congratulations on your new baby!” – they said. Yet, there I was crying over diaper disasters, snapping at my partner, and wishing for a moment of escape somewhere, anywhere — without worrying about my next breastfeeding session. Having a baby is a joyful experience, but not everyone gets there right away. In fact, for many mothers, bringing home a new baby means stress, exhaustion, and pain, as well as coping with a serious set of raging postpartum hormones throwing off all of your emotions. The famous “baby blues”.

About 80 percent of postpartum mothers have the baby blues, which refer to a short period after giving birth filled with bouts of sadness, anxiety, stress, and mood swings. That means 4 out of 5 new moms will experience them — so chances are you will, too. Most of the time, the baby blues go away on their own soon after birth — usually within 10 days but sometimes up to 14 days postpartum. There are two major indicators that the sadness you are feeling postpartum is more than the baby blues: the timeline and intensity of your feelings. Time is of essence when it comes to identifying these indicators and that’s why mila is here to help give color to your authentic voice!

What it does

mila is a device you keep close throughout the day. When enabled, mila picks up on realtime audio input from your conversations, paying attention to speech patterns, tone, and emotional cues in order to analyze how you’re feeling. Then, mila displays those feelings as colors. mila comes with a companion app for both women and their healthcare team to gain insights on trends over time, emotional fluctuations, and most importantly, flags indicators of PPD beyond the baby blues window.

We created mila to support moms during their postpartum journey, and help them give color to their authentic voices. By using AI technology, we have developed a platform and device that goes beyond explicit questioning and biases, instead sensing emotions in a more natural environment. Our platform enables healthcare providers to gain insights into the emotional well-being of their patients without relying solely on verbal communication in a clinical setting, creating a space where mothers can be heard and understood without explicit questioning.

As a multidisciplinary team, passionate about women’s health, our project is driven by the core belief of amplifying the voices of women and supporting their mental well-being during the transformative journey of motherhood. We recognize the vulnerability women experience during the postpartum period and aim to provide a tool that enables healthcare providers to identify early signs and emotional cues related to mental health beyond the baby blues period. Our tool serves as a bridge between healthcare providers and patients, facilitating early interventions, personalized follow-ups, and comprehensive mental health care. By intervening and following up with patients in a timely manner, we can ensure that every woman receives the support she deserves precisely when she needs it the most.

How we built it

mila hardware device was built with a RaspberryPi computer connected to a microphone that receives audio input. The software is written in Python and implements Hume’s API to translate audio clips into sentiment data.

Challenges we ran into

Privacy and data security were paramount throughout the entire hackathon. We strive to develop a platform that complies with regulations such as HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and guidelines regarding data protection and confidentiality. User consent and transparency in data usage will be prioritized, and the tool will adhere to ethical considerations surrounding mental health monitoring. After conducting extensive research, to address this challenge, we plan to focus on: data minimization, informed consent, anonymization and encryption, secure data storage, access controls, and more.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We defined a concrete, extendable solution within a problem space that we all care deeply about: women’s health. We built mila to the prototype stage with a small device that receives realtime audio input and using Hume’s sentiment data analysis, translates that to a light color. We also created robust UI designs for our companion app to surface key insights about your mood. Mostly, we’re proud of the team we built. We were able to hone the strengths within our diverse, eclectic skillset to execute efficiently while having a great time.

What we learned

On the technical front, we learned how to apply AI models to real world problems by implementing existing APIs.

Moreover, as we were poring over articles and statistics on postpartum depression, we learned that supporting women with postpartum depression is one of many significant gaps in women’s healthcare that present dire consequences. The pain points are both personal and widespread.

Throughout our journey, we have learned and understood the significance of early identification in mental health and its potential to make a lasting impact on the lives of parents and communities overall.

What's next for mila

  1. User Testing and Feedback: Conduct extensive user testing with new mothers, healthcare providers, and other relevant stakeholders to gather feedback on the platform's usability, effectiveness, and overall user experience.

  2. Partnerships with Healthcare Providers: Collaborate with healthcare providers, clinics, and hospitals to integrate the platform into their existing postpartum groups. This collaboration can help ensure that the platform reaches a wider audience and becomes an integral part of comprehensive postpartum support.

  3. Data Analysis and Research: Partner with research groups to analyze the data collected through the platform to gain insights into postpartum emotional well-being, identify trends, and contribute to research in the field. This data analysis can help refine the platform's algorithms and improve its ability to detect early signs of postpartum challenges.

  4. Collaboration with Mental Health Professionals: Establish partnerships with mental health professionals, therapists, and counselors who specialize in postpartum mental health. This collaboration can provide additional expertise and resources to offer personalized support and interventions for women using the platform.

  5. Expansion of Features and Services: Continuously innovate and expand the platform's features and services based on user feedback and emerging research. This could include adding additional tools, resources, and even targeting women more broadly and enhance the overall user experience.

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