Internship Reflection: Ijeoma Uche at Birth By Us: Empowering Black Women Throughout Pregnancy and Postpartum

October 17, 2022

This summer, I had the pleasure of partnering with the Wallace Center for Maternal Child and Adolescent Health to work on an app I co-founded, Birth By Us, to empower Black women throughout pregnancy and postpartum. Throughout this partnership, I built and led a team of three MIT and UC Berkeley interns to prepare for our Winter 2022 pilot for Black Medicaid patients.  

Birth By Us (BBU) is a Black-owned and founded app that empowers Black mothers and birthing people to shape their birthing experience while giving providers and hospital systems the necessary insights to best support their birth. BBU aims to be the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum app for Black people through tailored, culturally competent patient education and resources, comprehensive check-in questionnaires, and integrated services for Black birthing people, their partners, and their providers. We hope to be utilized by every Black birthing person between their pregnancy beginning through a year postpartum in order to help guide them towards their best perinatal outcome and experience.

In June 2022,  we conducted over 80 stakeholder interviews with Black and Brown birthing people, partners, OB/GYN generalists, MFM specialists, midwives, maternity nurses, and hospital administrators to understand how our application can address the gaps within perinatal care specifically affecting minorities. Through these interviews, we gained insight into how to bridge the gap between providers’ care and patients’ reality by effectively incorporating the impact of a patient’s social determinants of health into providers’ clinical workflow and ultimately improved our app. Throughout this process, we received astonishing guidance and support from our mentors, Dr. Lindsay Parham and Professor Jaspal Sandhu. With their help, we were able to conduct a comprehensive market analysis, identify areas of product uniqueness, complete legal requirements, create a two-year business plan, meet with mission-driven Venture Capital Firms (ie. Rhia Ventures), and gain partnerships with maternal health equity-focused institutions and organizations (ie. UCSF and the National Birth Equity Collaborative). 

This summer has been the most rewarding experience I have ever had as a student! Birth By Us went from a strong idea and wireframes to an executed plan for a viable product that addresses the specific needs of Black women and providers along with a strategy for funding, monetization, and business survival. Dr. Parham and Professor Sandhu created and facilitated an environment filled with problem-solving and creativity which led to a more concise product in the end. The support I received from the Wallace Center has allowed me to grow into a better leader, researcher, entrepreneur, communicator, and public health professional. I was able to apply my MPH training in the most abstract ways which emphasized the flexibility and significance of my public health coursework. I am very thankful for this opportunity and their support. I would not have been able to make it this far without them. I hope future students can have the same opportunity to expand their training in non-traditional ways to achieve an array of innovations. I am excited to see more MPH entrepreneurs in the near future!