Hi Reddit! I am Kaitlin McGreyes, mom of 3, doula, and founder of BeHerVillage.com. My business is revolutionizing the baby shower and taking on the $12 billion baby gift industry. We were just selected for the prestigious NPR How I Built This Fellowship and I'll be interviewed by Guy Raz and pitch for the chance to win $50k.

Did you know that we are the only developed country that has a CLIMBING maternal mortality rate? That's right, even though we spend more money on healthcare than any other developed country we are losing more women in childbirth each year and our rates continue to go up. Black women are 4 times more likely to die than white women in the US and 12 times more likely to die than white women in NYC. We have a maternal healthcare crisis in our country.

At the same time, new parents get inundated with a bunch of baby gear and clothes that are completely useless at their baby shower. And then they struggle to figure out how to care for their tiny human when they get home and everyone goes away. We know that community care, doulas, lactation consultants, mental health support, and other services are what improve health outcomes. But most of these services are not covered by insurance and parents don't have the money to pay out of pocket.

So we created BeHerVillage.com. It's a game-changing platform that bridges the gap between the communities of mothers that need support and the professionals that care for them. We help parents find and FUND the support they need to improve their health outcomes.

Also, our gifts are AWESOME. I know I would take someone cooking for me and cleaning my house over a baby bouncer any day of the week.

A little about me: I have given birth all the ways: baby 1 via cesarean, baby 2 VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) without an epidural, and baby 3 in a pool in my living room! I don't have a business background, just a lot of passion, a little anger at my own experience with the maternal healthcare system and its failures, and a lot of energy and drive to make sure that we divert money into the hands of mothers.

Ask me anything about Be Her Village, NPR's How I Built This Fellowship, birth, doula work, giving birth in my living room and how I'm changing the way we celebrate mothers!

Check out our site [here](www.behervillage.com) and NPR's press release here

And watch our submission video here

Proof: https://twitter.com/behervillage/status/1384535146657943554?s=21

Edit: thanks for a great dialogue everyone! I appreciate it all and am grateful for the chance to share this work with you! Happy to continue the conversation in DM or on our other social channels (IG and FB mostly).

Comments: 354 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

literatelush704 karma

You open by discussing the alarming fact that the U.S. is the only developed country that has a climbing maternal mortality rate, which is absolutely true and as an expecting mother in America I find that especially troubling. Then you say:

We know that community care, doulas, lactation consultants, mental health support, and other services are what improve health outcomes.

How do these things relate to increasing maternal mortality? You seem to suggest that insufficient investment in these services is related to or driving the maternal mortality crisis. Are there peer-reviewed studies or resources available that shed light on that relationship, whether it’s causal or correlational? If not, what do you think is actually driving the maternal mortality crisis and how do you think it should be addressed, ideally?

On a personal note, I find that I am quite inundated with unofficial resources of the “wellness” variety that often run counter to what modern medicine says is best for my and my baby’s survival and wellbeing — for example, giving birth outside of a hospital. There’s been a growing culture of shame surrounding “non-natural” birth plans rooted in scientific and medical fact for quite some time (most prevalent on social media). This has coincided with explosions in popularity of other “wellness” trends such as essential oils, alkaline water, healing crystals, and so on — it’s a whole subcultural groundswell. This flurry of unscientific information has made it more difficult for well-meaning people, including expecting mothers, to separate fact from fiction and make choices that actually maximize their chances of a successful health outcome. Taking my earlier example, it seems like opting for a non-hospital birth plan would actually promote increased maternal mortality rather than help it. Thoughts?

Thanks for your time and best of luck with the website.

fckingmiracles183 karma

Women that have no advocates or a lack of knowledge prior to going into labor might have a worse outcome while in the hospital, while speaking up for themselves etc.

SunnysideKun-14 karma

Yeah here's the thing - there's actually no clinical evidence that doulas improve health outcomes.... (I cited some literature indicating this in another response to this post)

poppyseeded27 karma

There are tons of studies showing that doulas improve outcomes. They reduce inductions, reduce epidural use, reduce laboring time, reduce pushing time (I would hire one just for that lol), increase APGAR (immediate measure of baby's health), and improve the mother's reflection of her experience.

poppyseeded132 karma

I love your questions an would like to answer thoughtfully.

Maternal mortality happens on a spectrum. When women die it is often after an array of failures at many levels. Be Her Village is NOT the answer to completely solving the maternal mortality crisis. This crisis is rooted in racism, inequity, and a healthcare system that emphasizes reducing liability over improving maternal health. Our platform is designed to increase access to many of the services that we see in other countries that have falling maternal mortality rates. Where in those countries women are routinely provided with a postpartum in-home doula or nurse, seen by pelvic floor therapists, and receiving midwifery care, we have a system here in the US that does not provide or reimburse for many of these services. Paired with a non-midwifery friendly hospital culture and you have a recipe for women struggling for basic support plus facing a system that is intervening with dangerous procedures more often than needed. There is not enough research done here on how the services on Be Her Village impact outcomes, and that is part of the work we hope to do with our sister non-profit Maternal Spotlight.

As far as the toxic wellness culture---I'm right there with you. I actually just spoke about this yesterday in a Facebook live recording with a mental health provider about birth trauma (you can find this on our fb page if you have any interest). Basically we have two things happening: a "natural" birth community who sees the systemic issues, the interventions, the climbing mortality rates, and there is a huge amount of calling that out, pushing back, arming women with information, and pointing out that much of the death and bad outcomes for women is actually caused by the current practices in the OB community. It's a fine line to walk though because while we need to raise awareness it should NEVER be at the judgement of someone's individual choice. Do I think that doctor's need to do less cesareans, absolutely. Do I think that a woman who chooses to give birth with an epidural, or an ob, or at a hospital, or via cesarean should get flack or feel judged by anyone else? Of course not. And perhaps there needs to be more consciousness about talking about systemic causes versus attacking women who are opting into the birth that feels right for them.

I want to specifically address the question about home birth increasing your maternal mortality rates. There is a lot of information that supports the idea that home birth has equal or less risk for babies and less risk for mothers when compared to hospital births. Part of home birth or out of hospital care is about assessing risk along the way and transferring to a higher level of care during pregnancy, birth, or postpartum as needed. The way that home birth works best is when it is done in collaboration with local doctors and hospitals. When we think about how as a country we can reduce maternal mortality midwives are the obvious answer that almost every other country is using with wonderful results. Home birth will never be for everyone. And actually I was "against" it as a concept until a few months before I chose it for myself. I think above all else we need to be careful about supporting individuals without judgment so that people are not feeling shamed or attacked by the natural birth community. It's one of the reasons I don't actually consider myself a member of that community and I'm careful to always let people know that my goal is to have people feel empowered in their choices, not to have a certain type of birth or experience.

glasnot19 karma

What's your take on vaccinations?

I mean no snark, I honestly would like to know. I think you have a great idea but the push towards the unscientific 'natural' fallacy and the super gendered language makes me wonder if this is something I should be telling all my friends about, or to avoid.

poppyseeded68 karma

I am fully vaccinated, my kids are as fully vaccinated as I could get them. I was first in line for the covid vaccine. And I find it difficult to find my own peers (not in business but as a mother) who care about their kids, want to be conscious parents, don't want to feed my kids junk, but also fully believe in science.

I appreciate the question minus the snark and find myself often walking the line between addressing the "natural" crowd who are tuned into these supports and seeking them out and also wanting to very much bring these sorts of things into the mainstream with the evidence to back them.

7imeout_145 karma

Hi. Thanks for the IAMA. This certainly seems to be a meritorious idea with all the right intentions at heart.

I’ve checked out your site and the list of local resources on there for the users to be able to add to the registry, but I didn’t see any links to find out more about the providers (e.g. website, reviews, licenses, credentials).

How does your site handle the accountability for these providers? More specifically, do you have a safeguard and liability structures in place to appropriately filter out legitimate and reputable providers from potentially harmful, purely pseudoscience-based providers?

EDIT typos

poppyseeded87 karma

Great question! Thanks so much for checking out our site. Right now our team and platform is small enough that we are meeting with each business that signs on and ensuring they are an active and upstanding member of their communities. As we grow we are exploring ways to make sure that this sort of high-contact interaction are happening. One of the ways we have been thinking about is engaging community by community to have leaders/connectors in each area to help us grow responsibly and ethically.

7imeout_58 karma

Thanks for the response and I appreciate your team having a plan in place for now and in the future.

Does your team include a licensed medical professional (e.g. MD, DNP, etc.) to be able to provide credible feedback when evaluating the businesses?

Also, if I am signing up to put together a registry, a high degree of transparency in this review/evaluation process would really add a lot to my confidence as a potential customer to all of the listed businesses. I would like to get your thoughts on this too, if possible.

Thanks again for the great IAMA!

poppyseeded50 karma

Right now it does not, but I think your feedback is really valuable and definitely something we would consider. I don't mean to sound vague but I really don't want to promise something until I know we can implement it. One of the updates that is coming by the end of the month is a more in-depth business profile so that people can leave reviews, testimonials, and learn more about the businesses that we have on our platform. Thanks so much for your comments!

SunnysideKun142 karma

Actually you haven't given birth all the ways. How about with an epidural? (I don't like the digs people in the home birth community make trying to impugn pain medication....)

I would say your website looks like it is mostly a doula marketing website.

Can you clarify what you are doing for women who don't have well off friends to give them money? Also, what the heck does your website have to do with maternal mortality? That's totally unclear in your marking materials. Seems like some sort of intentional misdirection here...

Basically seems like you're throwing in all the buzz words associated with a certain, very white, very middle class notion of what ideal motherhood looks like in 2021....

poppyseeded38 karma

I appreciate your comments and I'll take them one at a time.

I certainly haven't given birth all the ways, every birth is unique and that was said more tongue in cheek. I did have an epidural during my first labor before my baby went into distress. I am all for epidurals and think they are an incredible tool when used properly and when we understand that they aren't a panacea and don't work perfectly all of the time.

My website is a doula marketing site. And a marketing site for all of the services that serve parents in their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time. We are connecting the people who need the support with the people who are giving the support and offering a tool to raise funds for these services that are largely not covered by insurance.

We don't talk about maternal mortality as our major headline because we don't want to scare the shit out of women. There is a fine line between being supportive and fear-mongering and it's one that we walk imperfectly a lot of the time. In a forum like this and when we are speaking to birth workers there is absolutely room for discussion our overarching goals to improve access to services that reduce morbidities and mortality. When people engage with our platform I don't want to be like, oh, hey, you might die unless you use this service. That's not who we are and it's not the message we want to send to pregnant people and their families.

As far as what we are doing for people who don't have well-off friends that was a really important thing for us to address. We didn't want to only serve the people who have access and be another organization leaving behind the under-resourced. The registry is always free for the birthing people and gift registrants. They can add services, find providers, raise funds, transfer those funds into their bank accounts for free, always. The gift buyers pay a small fee to cover our credit processing and platform fee. We don't make money on this. A small portion of that fee is donated to a local non-profit that is working on the ground with women to provide services like those on Be Her Village. Our non-profit in NY is Maternal Spotlight and in Detroit we will be making a quarterly donation to Birth Detroit. We want to make sure that as we help our registrants get funds for their care we are also uplifting women in their local area.

justgrowingchesthair55 karma

Hi Kaitlyn!

This idea seems awesome. You mention that the United States continues to have a climbing maternal mortality rate.

Your business focuses on improving health outcomes, are you partnering with any medical organizations to investigate and remediate the mortality rate?

poppyseeded31 karma

Hi there, this is a great question! We think there is so much work to be done with decreasing our maternal mortality rate. The causes are varied and complicated, such as providers who are incentivized incorrectly to perform more invasive and dangerous prodecures, a litigious culture with no social safety nets that puts doctors on edge and fearful of their patients, and systemic racism that results in 4 times as many Black women dying during their childbearing year than white women.

There are many organizations working on this and it's really important work. We absolutely are seeking out partnerships with those that are doing the work on the ground to improve access to care. With each gift funded on Be Her Village we donate a to a local maternal health organization with this mission. In NY the organization is one we helped co-found called Maternal Spotlight. In Detroit we are going to be donating to Birth Detroit, a wonderful organization founded by Black Midwives who are offering free services to their community and working on launching a birth center.

One of the areas that is severely lacking research is maternal co-morbidities. This is basically anything before mortality. We don't typically have women just dying in care. These deaths are a result of many failures along their entire journey. We know how to reduce comorbidities and mortaliity: Community care. We need high quality education, doula support, mental health support, lactation support, and an array of services aimed at caring for mothers throughout their childbearing years. Be Her Village is part of how we are going to make these services accessible to the masses. Right now insurance doesn't pay for most of them. Our platform allows communities to keep the funds they are spending on baby shower gifts in the hands of mothers and local businesses.

justgrowingchesthair6 karma

Thank you for the comprehensive and informative reply.

I think awareness is definitely part of the equation and it seems you're educating yourself and your organization in order to provide the best response to this issue.

I'm looking forward to seeing what work your organization can do in the future. What's the best way to further your organizations goals in that area? For example, would donating to a local research organization be of assistance? Or perhaps lobbying lawmakers to look at this as a health crisis and have insurance companies begin to fund solutions instead of avoid paying for procedures?

marry_me_tina_b30 karma

I mean, OP didn't list a single healthcare or medical organizations or service provider partner. They shared some places they donate and that's it. I would ask about how this service engages with a mom's existing providers and healthcare team when they are planning support as it looks like this service is completely separate. Continuity of care and a collaborative approach between the patient and all the team members involved in their care is really important for health outcomes and stability for the patient - where they don't have to manage all the communication from multiple service providers in the midst of receiving care and planning goals for themselves.

poppyseeded9 karma

We haven't solidified partnerships with any large medical organizations yet. We are just starting out and we're a group of moms with a TON of young kids between us (you should see our zoom calls lol). It's absolutely something we want to do and if you have suggestions for where to start I'm all ears. Thanks so much!

marry_me_tina_b8 karma

Thanks for the more direct response to my comment - I can appreciate that you're new and my be working on establishing those partnerships, that doesn't sound unusual at all. I read the original response and didn't see a direct answer but appreciate you clarifying here.

I really like the way you describe the community of support you are building - my wife is pregnant and we observe that currently with the pandemic it has been hard to find others to talk to as mommy groups and other support groups are not running. I work in healthcare in Canada and it sounds like you're in the USA so my direct experience with establishing partnerships might not be that meaningful as I am not familiar with the USA healthcare system in the same way I know and understand mine. I'd just highlight that building in continuity and communication with a person's existing healthcare providers and teams is vital. If your program is providing some healthcare services then I'd say it's really important that the broader team is informed and able to share information for the benefit of mom. Forgive my ignorance as well, as I do not know how doula's practice in the USA, but engaging with physicians and specialists can be a bit of an art form.I have consistently found you really do want that partnership with providers involved in the care instead of butting heads with a service they view as competing or dismissing their work (speaking from personal experience there)

poppyseeded8 karma

Thanks for this. Our platform isn't actually coordinating healthcare, we are helping families raise funds for services that are mostly out-of-pocket in the US. That said, continuity of care and coordination between all team members is really important and something I hope that with more mainstream attention many of these professions will be able to continue to foster and engage in.

poppyseeded9 karma

The best way to help our organization is to tell someone about us. We aren't funded, completely bootstrapped, and every time someone talks about us it gets us one step closer.

Donating to our sister non-profit maternalspotlight.org would be a great place to start. And we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign for our company in early May.

Advocacy work and lobbying is dear to my heart! I actually came up with the idea for this platform on the drive up to Albany for lobby day with NY Midwives. With Be Her Village we have worked to get partners back into prenatal appointments, and are always looking for ways to use our platform to engage local leaders and amplify the voices of our community.

birdsdaword54 karma

Does this include mental health?

poppyseeded77 karma

Absolutely! We have licensed mental health providers, support groups, and other mental health services. It's so important to consider mental health when we are thinking about moms.

We also know that one of the reasons that moms struggle with Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMAD) is because of a lack of support. Our aim is to help reduce mental health struggles through access to the types of services on our platform.

poppyseeded19 karma

Just adding a correction here I meant Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.

sshan51 karma

Why should all births not happen in the hospital? A friend of mines wife lost a critical amount of blood during a low-risk birth in the hospital. She was lucky to be alive and almost certainly would have died without immediate emergency surgery.

Not arguing against mid-wives or doulas here. Just wondering why people don't want to have births in a hospital?

poppyseeded10 karma

Hey there! Love this question. I am not suggesting home birth is for anyone or everyone. Or that it’s part of any solution. I mentioned it mostly because it’s still quite rare and thought I could answer questions about it for anyone curious. I was actually fairly anti-home birth until a few months before I chose it for myself. The one thing I have to say about why all births shouldn’t happen in the hospital is because some women don’t want to birth in a hospital and they should always have the right to choose where they give birth.

Money_Calm49 karma

What is causing the climbing maternal mortality rate to rise?

poppyseeded130 karma

Great question! It's not just one thing.

some aspects of the problem:

  1. Lack of midwives and non-high risk providers. In other countries with lower maternal mortality rates everyone sees a midwife or births in birth centers or low risk settings and only sees an OB if they have a medical need to see a surgeon.
  2. Lack of postpartum care. In the US women are monitored so closely at the end of pregnancy and then during labor. Once they go home they are on their own. Many of the deaths are postpartum due to clots, pre-eclamsia, bleeding, or other preventable health issues that could be caught by earlier intervention. For reference I just found out that in Switzerland you see a midwife 16 times between birth and your 6 weeks visit. Many of those visits are in the home.
  3. Litigious culture: Because we don't have a social safety net we must sue if we are injured or incur damages to ensure our financial well-being. Doctors and hospitals are terrified of being told they didn't do enough, so they almost always opt into the highest level of intervention (cesarean, typically) and that is very dangerous for the mother compared to a vaginal delivery. 1 in 3 women are having cesareans in our country.

literatelush47 karma

To clarify, are you saying that obstetricians are high-risk providers compared to midwives? Do you have proof of that?

How are midwives better equipped to identify “clots, pre-eclampsia, bleeding, or other preventable health issues that could be caught by earlier intervention” than doctors?

poppyseeded27 karma

Great question!

OBs are trained surgeons that can care for women in all risk categories. Midwives are trained in vaginal birth and care for low and normal risk women. Most midwives in our country work in hospitals. In countries that have lower rates of maternal mortality there are more midwives and they are typically the first level of care accessed for pregnancy.

For the second part, I'm not suggesting that midwives or doctors or more or less trained in catching these things, I'm suggesting that we need women to have access to postpartum care before the 6 week visit. Many of the deaths in our country are happening in that postpartum time and could likely be prevented (as it is in other countries) by more care. The thought about doctors and midwives was separate from the idea that we need more eyes on women during the postpartum time.

hsm354 karma

I think there is a nuance that you’re not addressing: the US does not have a national standard for what a “midwife” is. Nurse midwives are highly trained professionals. Some states allow midwives to just have some post-high school certification. There is a wide gap in outcomes between the latter group and the former. Nurse midwives are more similar to how other developed countries train their midwives.

poppyseeded6 karma

Yes, I didn’t address that and I’m glad you brought it up. There is a lot of debate even within the midwifery community about whether there should be a universal definition. There are CNM, CPM, and LM. And it shouldn’t be up to the consumer/patient to figure out what the differences are and which is safer than the other.

SunnysideKun33 karma

Actually maybe you should just cite some literature and admit that you are in the business of marketing doulas and that you are not an expert in public health equipped to provide an answer to this question?

Why are you implying that OBs are causing rising maternal mortality and that if we all just saw midwives that maternal mortality would go down?

poppyseeded19 karma

Hey I think I’ve answered this in other responses, but I’ll give it another go. I’m not suggesting that our platform will solve maternal mortality. I wanted to paint a picture of the problems facing birthing people. I think there are countries that have lower and falling maternal mortality rates and it makes sense to see what they are doing. Midwifery care is a huge part of many of these places whose outcomes are better than ours.

Our platform puts funds in the hands of women and growing families to spend on their transition into parenthood (or however else they see fit). We’re tired of seeing parents struggling and being gifted a bunch of baby stuff that doesn’t actually help them in any meaningful way. There are a lot of people who want to buy impactful, meaningful gifts and we’re offering them a way to do that.

breeriv10 karma

The US is also one of only four countries on Earth that doesn’t guarantee some kind of parental leave.

poppyseeded2 karma

It’s awful, truly.

roundbout4 karma

Hasn't there been a catastrophic loss of rural hospitals?

poppyseeded3 karma

I don't know anything about this specifically, but I do know that in NYS there are entire counties that don't even have an OB or a midwife. Thanks for bringing it up.

dindunuffinmuffin20 karma

What is your background/qualification in health care research? What research methodologies do you use?

poppyseeded14 karma

I don't have any background in health care research. I don't conduct research. I have become aware of the crisis that is unfolding for American mothers through both my experience as a mother and as a doula servicing families in NY and I think we need a huge, big, federal solution from the government to solve many of our issues. In the absence of that I think a gift registry that focuses on support services and diverting money from big box retailers into communities is a great start.

apoliticalinactivist18 karma

I just want to say you're doing a great job answering with detail and context, while being very careful not to misrepresent yourself.

The fact that so many people are projecting their narratives and implications onto you & your answers just shows how pervasive & subtle the societal baggage around pregnancy is.
Actual change is tedious and thankless work, but at least one random person on the internet sees you.

poppyseeded11 karma

I feel seen. Thank you!

sunfloweronmars28 karma

I really love what you’re doing. I’m a black woman and I want to be a mom so bad, but I’m incredibly concerned about maternal mortality rates within my demographic, and how to advocate for myself when the time comes. I’ve experienced medical racism from doctors and nurses and it’s already convinced me to budget for a doula when the time comes, so I know I have someone focused on me and my wellbeing while the doctors and staff can focus on the babe. I’m just rambling at this point, but thank you for doing this work, providing this service, and raising awareness about something many aren’t aware of. We are literally dying out here.

My last comment got deleted because it didn’t contain a question, oops. How is your day going? How do you find balance being a mom, a doula and a business woman?

poppyseeded9 karma

Thanks so much for your words of support. It really means a lot. My day is wonderful! And balancing being a mom and a doula and a business woman is not easy and im convinced im failing at one or all on the regular. But this work is all really heart-led for me and it feels important and good to be working on it which makes up for the late night calls and time away from my kids.

mousewithacookie26 karma

Kaitlin, I am currently pregnant and checking out your site myself. I would have thought putting in my address would narrow my registry choices down to local and remote options only, but I’m getting registry guide suggestions that are in-person and not remotely local. Is this a feature you expect to update?

poppyseeded14 karma

Yes, one of the things we will be implementing based on feedback like this is changing the way services appear if there aren't local providers in your area. I'm glad you checked us out and be sure to utilize the custom registry feature to craft the services you'd like to use.

lil-lahey-show24 karma

I could’ve really used something like this, I don’t have a lot of support and have felt very overwhelmed with my second. Just wondering, would there be something similar in Canada you are familiar with? Despite the rumors, not everything here is free, ESPECIALLY services/supports for moms who may not qualify for additional assistance. This is an incredible idea and you are an incredible woman. Thank you ❤️

poppyseeded7 karma

I don’t know if anything in Canada, but we are constantly surprised by how much international Interest there is in our platform. We are exploring an expansion into Switzerland in the coming weeks and would be happy to connect with you once we work out the bumps.

welmoed21 karma

This is a fantastic idea. Is there a way to offer support to new moms without knowing a particular registry, like a resource section by location? I would love to register as a resource for moms in my area.

poppyseeded9 karma

Thanks! We do have businesses in 16 states right now and are always happy to have more join our community. We are looking for people who believe in our mission and want to change the way we celebrate moms. If this is you please send me a DM and I'll give you details!

dejohan12314 karma

I think is is a genius idea.

I coincidentally happened to have researched the topic a few months ago and I learned that millennial dads are very eager to be involved in the pregnancy (much more than previous generations) but cultural norms and habit tend to sidetrack them. I suspect it could be beneficial for family life if dads are given a more active role during pregnancy and early months, so they could build more emotional involvement and have more opportunities to bond with the baby.

Do you think it might be an interesting thought experiment to see how you could bring relevancy for fathers in your offering and story?

poppyseeded9 karma

Yes, I love this. It's one of the areas we plan to expand into... offering things specifically for partners/dads. I would love to do it ALL but with limited time and funds we had to start somewhere! Thanks so much for your suggestion!

Watchingpornwithcas11 karma

Wow, people are being so harsh in here! I studied as a home birth midwife but ended up not going into the career. There were a lot of vocal people in that community, both midwives and patients, who give the whole philosophy a bad name. It's simple common sense that the more care and attention a woman has during her pregnancy and postpartum period, the better her outcomes will be. Whether that's a doula or a midwife or an OB, having more attention on Mom by trained providers can catch things earlier. My daughter's pediatrician screened me for PPD/PPA at every visit and they caught it starting at 3 weeks postpartum, whereas I didn't see my OB until 6 weeks postpartum and I had a C-section! If it had gotten infected or wasn't healing right, would I have known? Would it have healed better or faster if I'd had someone cleaning and providing meals? (Okay, I did have this but so many women don't).

What people don't seem to realize is our mortality rates are ridiculous when compared to countries similar to ours (even when looking at average health and weight of adults). Maternity care is expensive and we aren't getting enough of it, period.

Edit to add: https://behervillage.com/articles/top-ten-registry-essentials

This would have been LEAGUES more helpful than the piles of hand-me-down baby gear that was discontinued 15 years ago and not up to safety standards. If there's a baby #2 in my future, I'm absolutely signing up.

poppyseeded7 karma

Thanks so much for sharing this. It's really appreciated. What did you end up doing when you left home birth midwifery?

blopez8610 karma

I just stumbled across this, and I think this is great! My wife is a doula and I’ve heard all those statistics about maternal mortality rate and think this is a great idea as she does post partum too!

Coming off the questions off the top of my head: Why did you become a doula? Was it before or after your first birth? Do you see yourself in the near or distant future moving on to midwifery school? What is your favorite aspect of post-partum work?

I wish you the best of luck and hope you keep gaining more traction and attention for a great cause!

poppyseeded16 karma

Thanks so much! I really appreciate your comments and questions.

I became a doula after my second birth when I had a 2 year old and a 5 month old. I was just floored at the difference in my two experiences. My first I had felt completely powerless, discarded by the staff, and like an inconvenience to them. With my second birth I felt powerful, considered, and like a member of the decision-making team. I entered doula work admittedly to "save" women from their mean doctors and help them have an amazing birth. But a few births in I quickly started to understand that it wasn't my place to save anyone from their choices or their care team, but to help them navigate their pregnancy and birth and postpartum journey in a way that would leave them feeling powerful, whole, and sitting in the driver's seat. I have worked hard on being non-judgmental. I'm not the "home birth is for everyone" or "epidurals are evil" kind of a person. I am often hired by people planning an epidural or a cesarean, and I help families engage with their care team and plan their births to be what feels really good for them.

I have the MOST respect for midwives, doctors, and L+D nurses. But absolutely no desire to become a medical provider. I don't think I have the guts I would need to do the job right. I've been in some pretty tense situations throughout my doula career and I'm almost always blown away by the skill, training, and calm that these amazing professionals display in tough, emergent situations.

I don't actually provide services as a postpartum provider, I'm working full-time now on Be Her Village and taking the occasional repeat doula client. If I had to do it all over again I would hire a postpartum doula in a heartbeat though! They are like the fairy godmothers of the birth world!

blopez864 karma

Thank you so much for sharing!

I agree with so much of what you said, although it is my wife’s passion, I talk to her a lot about her job, her doula experiences, and though she did not join because of her own experience (we have no children yet!) she was also very adamant about the way hospitals would treat mothers. She has been in this long enough to realize what you have too, that it’s about giving the birthing person their own space to make whatever decisions feel best to them! Literally every thing about home birth and epidurals reflect my wife’s mentality after being a doula for years.

It’s great that even though you’re mostly with repeat clients and not as active as a doula (I assume sorry if that comes off incorrect) I know for a fact this initiative will help push more people to take care of themselves physically, emotionally and even spiritually through interaction with post-partum help! I appreciate you letting me just spill and have conversation, it’s not often as a guy I find others to talk to about my wife’s passions!

Best of luck with everything and I hope the business blows up as it should!!

poppyseeded5 karma

Thanks so much!! I hope so too! And if your wife wants to connect I'm happy to talk to her!

FredMist6 karma

The increase in maternal mortality rate is likely linked to the increase in maternal obesity rate. Obese mothers are 4x as likely to die than non obese mothers. Due to the current trend of fat acceptance a lot of larger pregnant women are telling each other that it’s ok to gain 50 lbs during pregnancy. How is this addressed in your support program when so many woman are adamantly against perceived body shaming even if it’s statistically harmful to be obese during pregnancy? How do you with mental health (fat shaming) with physical health?

poppyseeded8 karma

Hey there, so we don’t have a support program. We are a platform that connects growing families with funds to get the support they need. We have a community of local providers for people to work with but also encourage our registrants to customize their registry with the types of support they want.

AcousticDeskRefer4 karma

What is the advantage of using your platform over giving direct cash gifts to the expecting mother with which she can choose a service provider?

poppyseeded4 karma

Great question! So I think direct cash gifts are wonderful and super beneficial. The benefit to our platform is essentially meeting the norm and shifting it. Right now most people make a baby registry. Handing someone a wad of cash feels weird and tacky. But being able to create a registry and show people what sorts of things you are purchasing and fundraising for but without it feeling like charity is useful and can sort of bridge the gap between a purely cash gift and a traditional baby registry with baby gifts.

MaximusGrande4 karma

I am currently pregnant and pretty clueless to the whole birthing process. I am very concerned about being pressured into a C-section unnecessarily. In fact, my OB brought up leaning towards a C-section at my first appointment because I mentioned that I might have a bicornuate uterus according to a sports medicine doctor who reviewed an MRI I had due to a hip injury ten years ago. My OB hadn’t even seen the MRI or any ultrasound images at that point and has not confirmed whether or not I do indeed have a bicornuate uterus.

Could you please explain what a doula is? Could having a doula help me during the birthing process to avoid having an unnecessary C-section?

squishykins10 karma

I'll jump in here. A doula is a non-medical provider who can assist with advocating for mother's wishes and interests during any kind of birth experience (home birth, birth center, hospital, etc.) They can also provide support during labor in terms of non-medication pain management techniques and mental/emotional support. Some also provide post-partum care for mom and/or baby!

poppyseeded3 karma

Thanks for fielding this one for me! you nailed it.

karl7224 karma

This is a great idea! Could the branding be more inclusive of birthing parents who do not identify with the female gender, and non-birthing parents who are parenting without the presence of the birthing parent?

poppyseeded5 karma

Great question, and thanks for putting it so thoughtfully. It's something we have heard from those in our community. As far as non-birthing parents we have some changes to our site coming up to be more inclusive to that experience, including the images on the site as well as the words and the sign-up process for our registry. We sat with parents going though the adoptive process and were lucky enough to get their feedback and are working with them to make that feel more inclusive of their experience.

As far as the gender question I'll say this. We welcome anyone and everyone who wants to line up support. If you visit our values page you can see we are aiming to be inclusive. I hesitate to take out all mention of gender as I think that women and mothers face specific challenges, but I do think we can improve our inclusivity in language on the site. We are constantly taking into consideration the feedback we get from our users and if you'd like to talk about it more I'm happy to hop over to dm. thanks!

kadify2 karma


poppyseeded5 karma

nope! My husband and I combined our last names when we got married :)

MagnusBrickson2 karma

Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle?

poppyseeded6 karma

squirtle. obviously.

timelighter1 karma

how much for a baby?

poppyseeded2 karma

depending on the day 1-3 of mine are totally free for the taking

Dewey_Cheatham1 karma

Can you eliminate gender reveal ceremonies?

poppyseeded39 karma

I don't think I'm in charge of that.

Dysttance1 karma

Hi Kaitlyn, son of a mother of three here, I was wondering..

What percentage of the “support” sold on your site are online courses?

poppyseeded4 karma

Hey! So we don’t actually sell anything. We are a site that helps parents fundraise for the support they need and want. All the funds go directly into the hands of the gift recipient, nothing goes to us or to the providers. We are bridging the gap between the communities that need care the the people providing the care. As far as virtual versus online I don’t have data on that offhand. I’ll say this though: 1. Anyone can make a registry and customize it completely, they don’t have to engage with our providers. And 2. Gift registrants are shown providers local to them regardless of whether the services are virtual or not. We want to connect communities.

jupiter_sunstone1 karma

Wow, first off I just want to say I’m sorry for some of the condescending and negative comments here. Honestly, wtf? You made several valid points in your intro and come across as compassionate and empathetic without being patronizing or condescending.

Women are often treated like little cattle by the medical industry and there’s a lot of judgement and backlash towards women wanting to take their pregnancies in their own control. I’ve been following a lot of women of all colors on social media who are passionate about changing the birth narrative- it’s incredibly empowering to witness.

How have you been dealing with the support and the backlash you’ve been facing? Are you at times surprised by either?

poppyseeded14 karma

Thanks so much. The backlash and unsupportive comments I take into consideration. It's actually a really helpful exercise to talk to an audience that is not my birth worker colleagues or mothers that have already come into contact with me or found my website. It helps me learn and change and improve the way that we communicate this big idea. There's also the whole rando on the internet thing lol... some of the people who are most upset by this probably have really different backgrounds and experiences from me and honestly the nastier the tone the more it reflects on them than on me. Creating something like this is going to ruffle more than a few feathers along the way and I can't take every criticism as personal or a reason to stop. We're doing something really important and brand new and trying to do it in a thoughtful way that impacts real people.

nashamagirl998 karma

You have a good response to criticism. Some things you wrote about things like home births I don’t really agree with (I think it should be an option, but I don’t think it should be painted as the safer one). I admire the way you’ve answered questions though and you seem to be trying to make the world a better place.

poppyseeded6 karma

Thanks so much! I really appreciate that. To be honest home birth is not the hill I want to die on. I wasn't sure how much attention this AMA would get (ha! what a funny concern) and thought the home birth experience being shared would get some interesting questions. Little did I know haha!

aestival-2 karma

If you are trying to reach an under-served population that is experiencing increased mortality, why is English the only language on your website?

poppyseeded4 karma

We had to start somewhere. We aren't a well-funded, VC backed org. We're a bunch of mothers that wanted to make a change. It DID actually come up at a meeting this week and is on our list of things to look into, and we are finding that providing other languages, specifically Spanish, on the site shouldn't be terribly hard!