Imagine this situation: Marisa and Leo, who live just outside DC, have just found out they’re expecting their first child. Marisa works as a waitress 5 days/week in DC and has aspirations of starting her own bakery soon. Leo is a salesman at a local retail store 6 days/week. Both have daily 1-hour commutes to their work using public transit.
Marisa and Leo are thrilled after finding out about their pregnancy but also apprehensive given they have no idea what to do next, their schedules allow little time to research/prepare, and they have no family support system nearby given their parents and extended families live in California and Mexico. On top of it all, Marisa knows she will have a C-section birth given a previous uterine surgery.
Marisa is not sure where to start in preparing for her baby. She reads several maternity magazines that show pictures of exuberant mothers and their babies along with numerous articles about the joys of vaginal birth and top of the line baby gear (none of which she can afford). Marisa spends all her nights and rare, free time “Googling” for information for her specific needs. She’s downloaded 12 apps to track her pregnancy and nutrition in-take. She’s fascinated, overwhelmed, and scared as she realizes that her body and life will change soon. She starts to have anxiety attacks but doesn’t tell anyone since she feels her family would think it’s silly. After all, she should be happy, not upset during this time.
During the day, Leo browses pregnancy websites but doesn’t really know what he needs to be looking for. The majority of sites include jargon he’s unfamiliar with and shows pictures of women and babies. It doesn’t resonate with him and he usually gives up. He’s noticed Marisa sleeping less but figures she’s just finding extra time to do research. He’s not quite sure how to best support Marisa but recognizes she’s a strong, independent woman and is confident she will find out the information needed or ask him for help.
The problem and outcomes
Navigating the complexity of parenthood can be overwhelming, particularly for low-resourced, first-time parents who have less resources (whether finances, time, etc.) available. Utilizing a human-centered design approach in our research, we’ve conducted field research stakeholders across a mother’s ecosystem (including fathers, psychotherapists, lactational consultants, maternal advocates, etc.) to identify 3 main root causes to the challenges in the new life journey:
Problem: Societal pressure
- Society portrays the new life journey as “a woman’s journey” (vs. other actors like fathers, family, friends, etc. )
- An exclusive and unrealistic portrayal of the new life journey that increases a societal misconception and emotional pressure for women
Problem: Disaggregated knowledge
- Millions of siloed online resources
- Parents don’t know “what they don’t know”, much less where to start
- Parents spend limited time navigating resources
- Parents are confused and overwhelmed and become misinformed or not informed at all
- Parents don’t have time for other preparatory tasks (e.g. self-care)
Problem: Lack of self care
- New life resources focus more on how to care for babies vs. for self/care givers
- Parents do not prioritize self-care impacting their ability to care for their newborn
In response to the above challenges, the New Life Hub sill serve as an online “one stop shop” website that aggregates existing resources and curates them, utilizing a human centered approach, given specific needs/context of the users (whether you’re a mother, father or other actor in the mother’s ecosystem). This centralized platform will provide both on “technical” information (e.g. infant care, choosing doctors, etc.) and resources to address self-care (e.g. emotional support such as support groups, psychotherapists, etc.)
This centralized platform will particularly serve low-resourced, U.S.-based parents where needed information can be more challenging to obtain (but the idea can be scaled to a broader audience and geography).
Users create a profile on The Hub and allows them to input information regarding their specific needs and context (e.g. their role in the new life journey, birth preferences, date of birth, financial constraints, emotional support needs, etc.). This input enables the Hub to specifically offer information in a digestible way given the user’s needs. The Hub also utilizes user inputs to produce a “New Life Plan” that serves as a “to-do” list to help parents understand and prioritize suggested activities/tasks to complete both before and after birth (i.e. 0-15 months). Additionally, user/parent profiles can be accessible to their support networks (e.g. family, friends) to show them where they are in their journey and how they might help parents with certain to-do’s/tasks during that process.