Our research was done in the Gynaecology & Maternity Department of Hillerød Hospital. The design concept, Baby Book, is a guide to – and a record of – the pregnancy journey, pulling together many of the different experiences of both pregnancy and delivery into one coherent process. The mother can gather all documents, both medical and personal, from the pregnancy period in one place, whilst staying informed about specific stages within the process. At the delivery stage, this information also gives the midwife an overview of the mother’s medical and emotional journey to date. This personal guide serves as a memoir of the experience for mother, child and family, both in immediate reflection and many years down the line.

The Context
As a team we explored the patient experience within the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Unit at Hillerod Hospital, outside Copenhagen. We were initially struck by the generally positive relations within the department and the levels of familiarity between staff and patients. There were clear opportunities with the spatial organisation and environment of the department, as well as the distribution of information between staff. After initial general research across different areas of the department we decided to focus our findings and design work on the delivery ward. As a sensitive, yet extremely positive and uplifting area of childbirth, this balance of familiarity with professional behaviour was an important and complex patient/staff relationship that we wanted to explore further.

Gathering User Insight
Through observation and interviews with both midwifes and patients, we identified several areas as potential design challenges. Utilisation of space, communication within the department, and patient familiarity with the hospital and the pregnancy process emerged as key areas to focus on. To delve deeper into the patient’s holistic experience however, we wanted to explore the way in which midwives in particular interacted with both patient and her partner beyond the hospital’s immediate role. Through the use of research tools, exercises, and games carried out with several midwives, we explored the flexible boundary between the medical and the emotional role of health practitioners, how the patient was reassured throughout the pregnancy, the delivery process, and how information, both good and bad, was communicated.

Design Challenges
We identified an opportunity in supporting the midwives’ role in reinforcing familiarity and understanding across the entire experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and beyond. Parents engage with the health system at various points throughout the pregancy process, without an explicit thread between them. At all these stages, doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals dispense advice, information, and test results, both verbally and in printed form. This is often misplaced or not easily found months later when needed. We saw this as a challenge which could be approached in a low-cost, high-impact way, radically improving the patient experience without creating an additional drain on hospital resources or adding to the already high staff workload.

Exploring the User Experience – Experience Prototyping
The Baby Book prototype was a series of paper elements used to prompt discussion between us as designers and the mother of a 4-week old baby. By discussing these elements with the mother, we gained a strong understanding of what was important to them within the hospital and the pregnancy experience. Additionally we could start to gain insight on what exactly was missing from the experience and where the Baby Book could be of help and what selection of content would be effective. Based on feedback from this session, we created a higher fidelity prototype which we presented to hospital management and representatives from the department.