As a Black registered nurse, Layo George has worked ambitiously to tackle the systemic issue that has single-handedly created a disparity in the healthcare experiences of Black mothers compared to white mothers.
She created an app to not only help women thrive in the joy of pregnancy but to drive better maternal outcomes for both the mothers and their babies.
Based and trained in the DC area, George noticed the stark differences in treatment and care between Black mothers and their white counterparts. The inequalities she witnessed led her to dive deeper into the nationwide maternal health crisis facing Black women, per Johnson & Johnson.
George most importantly wanted to ensure that her experience giving birth was to be a safe and peaceful experience. She didn’t want to become a statistic for the significantly higher rate of maternal mortality and infant mortality faced by Black women.
“I was able to find the OB that I wanted who was OK with the kind of things that I wanted,” she told Essence.
“I would go to prenatal yoga on Thursdays. I just really created my journey, because I wanted it to be special. I found the doula that I wanted. I created a package for myself.”
Now the mother of a healthy 4-year-old, George realized that her special birthing experience isn’t always the reality for other Black mothers. She became determined to create a space that would enable mothers to take charge of their journey without accepting poor care and discrimination in the healthcare system.
“That’s how I ended up with Wolomi, and really wanting to bring the joy back in our birthing experience,” she said. “Wolomi is from a Yoruba word, from Nigeria. When you greet a mom, it’s an older Yoruba word, meaning ‘happy dipping hands in water.’ It’s the community aspect of things. Just the idea that this thing, the birthing process, our birth journey is a happy thing. Unfortunately, it’s turning into this scary thing.”
Wolomi, which began as a nonprofit organization, is a digital community of women of color that offers clinical support in the form of online courses, virtual group coaching, and one-on-one tutorials for women of color during pre-pregnancy planning, pregnancy, and postpartum. These are all led by a registered nurse.
The Wolomi: Pregnancy Companion App is a free platform that provides members with access to maternal health experts, midwives, pediatricians; events such as mental health screenings; and more.
“This is a joyful moment. You can have joy with the right information. Now, birthing in itself can be unpredictable, but you can own it,” she said.
“A lot of times, we get pregnant and the healthcare system just takes over. And then when we have the baby, it’s like, ‘That was nuts. For the past nine months or so, I don’t know what the hell happened.’ And then, you’re just thrown into motherhood. We don’t have to have that kind of experience. So when you’re coming to Wolomi, our hope is that you find a partner and a companion and that you are joyful. It’s a joyful experience because you have the knowledge to go through the experience boldly and joyfully.”