Pregnancy is a far from easy feat for anyone to handle. Outside of the physical symptoms pregnant people experience as they carry a child to term, the mental and emotional aftereffects of giving birth can take a heavy toll on birth parents. Jade Kearney, CEO of She Matters, a mental health and wellness app for people during postpartum, knows this first hand.
After having her daughter in 2019, Kearney experienced postpartum depression and anxiety. As she navigated the mental and emotional tolls, Kearney said as a Black woman, it was particularly difficult to find a community and culturally relevant spaces to turn to as she sought out healing.
This feeling is backed by the fact that Black women are over 3x more likely to die during pregnancy and postpartum in comparison to their white counterparts.
“I was so afraid to die during birth that it was all I thought about,” Kearney told Built In. “I never thought about postpartum and nobody had talked to me about experiences with mental illness. … I was suffering so bad.”
When she couldn’t find support, she built She Matters, an online and offline community app that originally served as a space for Black women to relate, connect and inform each other about their mental health after pregnancy. On Tuesday, She Matters pulled in $1.5 million in funding from Oxeon Partners, Chingona Ventures, The Fund and Emmeline Ventures.
I was so afraid to die during birth that it was all I thought about.”
With its new capital, She Matters will rebrand to We Matter and include other marginalized communities that also experience medical neglect such as Asian American, Indigenous and Hispanic women along with members of the LGBTQIA+ community. The company will also be hiring to grow its six-person team to a staff of 10.
“Although Black women experience the worst maternal health outcomes, if we can help change that for other communities of color and other communities in general, we need to do that,” Kearney said.
On the platform, birthing parents can connect with each other and build a community to discuss their postpartum experiences. The app also connects users to therapists, doctors and doulas they can work with. Each medical provider on the app goes through a six-week cultural competency certification to ensure that their services are in the best interest of marginalized communities.
What is a doula?
- A professional labor assistant who provides physical and emotional support to parents during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period
- For instance, a doula might offer physical comfort through techniques such as touch and massage, and assistance with breathing.
- Source: Oxford Dictionary
On the healthcare side, We Matter partners with hospitals who foot the bill for patients interested in accessing the platform. Additional features on the app include free initial sessions with doulas who volunteer their services. After the free sessions, users can work with doulas who accept their insurance.
“We work with child-birthing parents to figure out how we can make this affordable [for them],” Kearney said. “We do not turn anyone away.”
As the platform grows, Kearney expects it to expand beyond its postpartum focus and become a mental health and wellness resource for marginalized communities who struggle with receiving fair treatment for health issues like diabetes and more.