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Let’s reimagine how we support the diverse challenges of all mothers, babies, and those who care for them.

How might we reimagine the new life experience by addressing the diverse challenges of all mothers, babies, and those who care for them?

Welcoming new life into the world is a miracle. It can also be incredibly complex, depending on each unique situation or walk of life, and complications can span from the decision to conceive all the way through to 12 months postpartum.  As we consider the challenges associated with this journey, we have the opportunity to design a better journey for all new/expecting mothers and babies -- including those who may need support the most, but receive it the least. Let’s reimagine how we care for those facing diverse challenges as they welcome new life.
Read the full brief for more information on the focus of this Challenge.

The Challenge We Hope to Solve

Globally, deaths from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth have dropped 45% since 1990. However, progress does not necessarily mean equity. Although improvements in the field of maternal health are clear, disparity amongst who receives quality health care and support throughout the new life experience is still a great challenge across the world. For these disadvantaged populations, the barriers to quality health care are complex and various: income disparity, lack of information and education, lack of access to quality care or insurance, chronic disease, language barriers or cultural stigma, for example. Consider these statistics as we analyze the scale and scope of this Challenge:

  • Only 60 percent of the poorest women in the world’s developing cities receive the recommended minimum number of prenatal care visits, compared to  90 percent of the wealthiest women.
  • An African American  mom in San Francisco is 6 times more likely than a caucasian mother  to lose her baby before its first birthday.
  • In Berlin, research shows lower utilization rates of prenatal health care among immigrant women. In Switzerland, large health disparities exist between the Swiss migrant and Swiss national populations- maternal mortality rates are 4 times higher for immigrant women in the country.
  • An estimated that 27% of pregnancies are affected by chronic illness, disproportionately influencing poor and minority women. In the US, over 30% of maternal deaths are caused by chronic disease. 
  • Indigenous (Mâori) infants in New Zealand face 2.5 times the infant mortality than any other ethnic group in the country.

The Opportunity

Disparity in care and quality of care, based on a variety of factors, is a clear global challenge. We believe there is immense opportunity to focus on designing solutions that can make a difference, for everyone.

The risks of childbearing for a mother and her baby can be greatly reduced in a variety of ways spanning from the decision to conceive all the way through to 12 months postpartum. Health and family planning before conception, regular maternity care by a trained health worker during the term of pregnancy, assistance during birth by a skilled attendant, effective strategies to provide free or subsidized quality health services for the under- resourced, access to specialized care given complications, and regular health care and community support during the 12 months after birth, are just a few illustrations of this.

Additionally, whereas the “new life” experience  has historically fallen entirely on the shoulders of new, future or expecting mothers, we now know it takes a village. Healthcare practitioners, partners, extended family members, social workers, policy specialists, community organizations -- whether intimately or systemically, they are all involved in and influence the journey of welcoming new life into this world. We’re curious: how might our innovations not only leverage, but also support and care for, the extended networks that influence new life?

As we consider the scope and depth of the problem, we are calling on you -- our global community of changemakers --  to help build innovative solutions that support access to quality maternal health care and support, not just for mothers and babies, but for everyone that touches the new life experience. Moreover, as we design solutions, let’s make sure they support moments throughout the entire new life journey, from the decision to conceive, all the way until 12 months postpartum.

The OpenIDEO Challenge Process

Throughout the Challenge, we’ll rely heavily on design research methods like interviewing, storytelling and empathy exercises that allow us to immerse into the experiences of others. Building on this research,  we’ll bring the Challenge Question to life and develop solutions that are centered around real, human experiences.

During our Inspiration phase, we're calling a global community to action – to share your stories and reflections, emotions, perspectives, and other personal contributions related to this topic. Then – collaboratively during our Ideas phase – we’ll create solutions that reimagine the new life experience for all mothers, babies, and those who care for them.

With help from our challenge sponsors and Advisory Panel, we’ll create a shortlist of submitted ideas that will move into our Refinement phase. During the Refinement phase all ideas are encouraged to continue progressing, while the shortlist represents the lightbulb and moonshot moments that are most active and aligned with our Evaluation Criteria.

After an iterative Refinement phase we’ll announce the Top Ideas - a set of solutions that represent innovation in the topic area. Together, we’ll look forward to understand how to transform these collaborative concepts into tangible real world solutions.

Evaluation Criteria

Our evaluation criterium come from themes that emerged during discussions with our challenge sponsors and Advisory Panel. We’re excited to see these themes represented in the ideas posted during the Ideas phase and ultimately in our Top Ideas. We’re looking for ideas that might…

  • Focus on Equity and Accessibility. Understanding the importance of inclusion, and considering access across a broad and diverse spectrum of patients will be critical in this Challenge. How might your idea consider multiple communities and populations (especially our user personas for this Challenge)? How might you think critically in this light and pull inspiration from those users who aren’t normally served?
  • Go Beyond Tradition. We're aiming to re-think the maternal health experience, for not only mothers, but their support networks too (health care providers, partners, extended and nuclear family, social workers). What solutions exist beyond the current structure of our healthcare  systems?  Does your idea bring something new to the work that’s already being done or ignite existing efforts in a new way? Will it engage new audiences in reimagining new life? Highlight what makes your idea unique.
  • Consider Scale and Partnerships.  Starting local can be really powerful – but how might your idea be transferable to a large number of patients or networks? This topic is a societal need – the healthcare system cannot solve it alone. As you form your idea, try to be mindful of the different structures and systems that surround the maternal health landscape and how your idea might interact or adapt.
  • Inspire Action (and are actionable!). We hope your ideas are inspired by true moonshots, but also keep in mind the importance of putting a concept into action. Ultimately, implementation leads to success --building ideas that can be prototyped, tested, and eventually applied to communities in need will be a significant part of actualizing real change.
  • Are Human Centered.  We want ideas that are centered around real, human experiences. This is at the heart of OpenIDEO’s approach. Lead with empathy by talking to potential end users, and then get to know your local community even better by building quick prototypes and gathering feedback. After a few iterations of this, think beyond your own backyard to how your idea might apply to other environments.

Goals for this Challenge

This innovation Challenge, in collaboration with Sutter Health and UCB, will support organizations and entrepreneurs working to design solutions that support the diverse challenges of all mothers,  babies, and those who care for them.

Together, we hope to create impact and yield tangible solutions that our sponsors and partners can support or integrate into their work long after the Challenge ends. Top ideas will receive $1- $5K in micro-grant funding and in person design innovation support from UCB. As always, we encourage everyone to take your ideas forward and implement them in your own communities. On OpenIDEO, we strive to be a place where good ideas gain momentum.

For more information check out our Guiding Principles  for tips on how our community collaborates.

About Our Sponsors


UCB is a global biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative medicines and solutions to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases of the immune system or of the central nervous system. We are Inspired by Patients. Driven by Science. For more information on UCB, visit: and follow us on Twitter: @UCB_news.

Sutter Health
Sutter Health was named one of the nation’s top five large health systems in 2016 thanks to its integrated network of physician, employee and volunteer pioneers—more than 60,000 people strong. Rooted in Sutter Health’s not-for-profit mission, these team members partner to deliver exceptional care that feels personal. From physician offices to hospitals to outpatient care centers and home services, they proudly support and learn from the more than 3 million people in their care—nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population, in Northern California—one of the most diverse and innovative regions in the world. Northern California is the birthplace to many creative minds—and many of those babies get their start at Sutter Health. More than 356,000 babies were born at our hospitals from 2007-2016. In addition, Sutter Health partners with and helps fund 51 community clinics to ensure that people in need have access to primary and mental health care services and that low-income women have access to prenatal care. For more information, visit: | | |

What Now?

Like all of our Challenges, we start off with empathy. We’ll look to our community to provide stories and analogous examples of research. Together, we’ll gather perspectives from mothers, healthcare providers, community members and organizations, entrepreneurs, policymakers, business and industry leaders,  and other diverse groups around the world. We encourage you to also share your own story about the new life experience.

We’re kicking off with our initial Research phase, and we need your brainpower! Get involved, share insights, and help us start the conversation here.

Want to help us start a movement around this topic? Email us at

Do you want to get involved in this challenge?

We follow a process with phases. Currently we are in the Impact phase. You can participate by adding stories on the impact of this challenge.
161 contributions
236 ideas
236 final ideas
31 final ideas
31 final ideas

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Photo of David Gibbson

The post allowed me to make a good idea about the various challenges that are faced by mothers and children. This post is a real eye-opener and I have bookmarked the same for future reference. Keep on sharing more and more posts like this.

Photo of Alex

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Photo of Alex

These statistics show us the need for improvement in the maternal care we have to make in different countries. I do admit that it is not possible to give the same facilities all across the world, there can be considerable improvements made.

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Photo of Monalisa Padhee

Dear Kate.
This is Monalisa from Barefoot College, I work with the women health team and we work in last mile area settings and we would love to pitch in our idea of working with with and women and children through empowering a community driven model. How can we enter this challenge?

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Monalisa!

The ideas phase is now open. You can submit your idea here -
More information on the challenge is available here -

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us via

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Is it possible to get contributions from older challenges into this one? I think there's one that is very relevant:

Photo of Kate Rushton

Yes, it is possible. Thank you for this, Arjan, and for your continuing presence in the challenge! Your contributions through submissions and comments have been invaluable. I will inform the ideator about this challenge.

Photo of Achenyo Idachaba

I live in the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria. With a population of over 170 million. The public healthcare system is one the crummiest you can imagine and the country at large has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. I am not a pessimist. I am simply telling it like it is. The "haves" hop on on the next available flight to deliver their babies in America or Europe. It is the rage and a bragging point among the elite. The "have nots" are left to what the local healthcare system has to offer. Which is not much. Unless you are able to afford private healthcare. Each time I hear or read of a mother dying at childbirth, which is quite frequent, I freeze. We are talking about the 21st century here. Kudos to at least one out of the 36 State Governors who in the last 10 years made the goal of reducing maternal mortality a priority. He also happened to be a medical doctor by training.

I am bitter about the inequalities and injustices in the provision and quality of maternal healthcare. And it is personal. A few years ago, I connected with vendor who supplied chemicals. She sold original products vs counterfeits so I decided to stick with her. She was pregnant when I met her. Several months later, I needed to replenish my stock and went to her shop. I met someone else. I was confused for a moment and asked the person if I was in Laolu's shop. She nodded. But looked subdued. Since I was meeting this person for the first time, i did not want to read meaning into the look. So I proceeded to ask for the items I needed. She brought out the quantities I needed. And just before she tallied my bill, she said to me "we lost her". I asked who? And she said "Laolu". My immediate response to make sure we were talking about the same person was to ask "are you referring to pregnant Laolu"? She said "yes, we lost her during childbirth". I froze, refusing to believe what she was telling me. She was Laolu's older sister. I was in a daze. The baby survived but lost her mother and the baby was Laolu's first child. For the record, Laolu lived in a big city, Ibadan. The 3rd largest city in Nigeria. If she could go just like that, what is the fate of many women who live in the rural areas without the facilities a large city has to "offer". Just like that Laolu became a maternal mortality statistic in Nigeria. Like many before her. And like many after her. And that's why when i saw this Challenge, I felt I needed to write. To tell a true life story. That's all I have to offer.

To Dr. Mimiko, the former Governor, who developed the Abiye program in Ondo State to stem the tide of maternal deaths during childbirth, I say well done. To Dr. Laura Stachel who stunned by the horrendous conditions in which Nigerian doctors were working created We Care Solar to offer hospitals “Solar Suitcases” to deliver babies safely in the midst of frequent blackouts, I say GOD bless you. To Prof. Ojengbede who along with his team created the Anti-Shock Garment at the University College Hospital Ibadan to prevent death from haemorraghing after childbirth, I say GOD bless you too. To all who are inspired to come up with life-giving solutions, I say kudos and may the works of your hands be blessed.