Black maternal deaths have been the topic of conversation after the stories of several black women, some even public figures, expressed their experience with nearly fatal incidents during their pregnancies or postpartum, with many of these incidents attributed to a racist history within the medical field in the U.S.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 60% of pregnancy-related deaths are preventable and 44% of those deaths occurred within 42 days after delivery. The same study found that between 2011-2015, non-Hispanic Black and Indigenous women die between 3x to 4x the rate of non-Hispanic white women.
After dealing with her own bad experiences during her pregnancy, one woman decided to create an innovative service to help mothers, especially those from marginalized groups navigate postpartum.
Mandy Major is the founder and CEO of Major Care, a virtual postpartum doula agency to connect mothers with doulas all over the country to provide accessible and affordable care for mothers after they give birth. Major says a service like this is greatly needed with the U.S., which has one of the highest rates of maternal deaths in the developed world.
“It was a personal experience that quickly became a professional mission. Having my daughter changed my life. It opened my eyes to how, in America, we are hyper-focused on pregnancy but do the bare minimum for postpartum,” she said in an email interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“We are treated like disposable husks, yet we have our own physical and emotional needs that require care. It’s all on the birth person to be your own advocate and self-source information, services, and support. We’re the only developed country without some form of standard postpartum care, and it shows: We have the highest maternal mortality rate of all developed countries, an increasing postpartum suicide rate, and an increasing rate of postpartum depression and anxiety.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S, Major says her service saw a boost in interest with virtual services now becoming the new normal for a variety of services.
“We were working on this concept and business long before COVID-19 hit, but its presence has changed everything,” she explained. “While our virtual service model is the same, we’re fielding more questions from pregnant persons who want virtual resources for everything and are trying to figure out how to have a baby in this new paradigm.”
The consumer can go on the website and take a short quiz to be matched up with a doula and book a complimentary session to make sure it is the right fit. From there, mothers can schedule regular weekly video sessions with their doula.
“We offer what we call “relationship-based care,” she says. “It’s personal, intimate work. I left the industry I had been in for nearly a decade, became a certified postpartum doula, and started a local practice. But I knew the need was so much greater.”
“I thought about how to reach the most people and how to do it for less than in-person doula-ing, which can be costly. Given my background as a digital director, a virtual business was the natural answer. Technology isn’t a barrier anymore, it’s a benefit. It’s how people connect.”