OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Postpartum Pay-It-Forward Project

Expectant moms help new moms with postpartum support, and receive support after they deliver.

Photo of Olivia Hinebaugh
9 14

Written by

In no more than 3 sentences, please tell us who your idea is designed for and how it reimagines the new life experience.

All women deserve support and education through the postpartum period. This project would greatly benefit mothers who may not have local support or who may not have access to supplementary birth care such as childbirth classes, doulas, or breastfeeding classes. This program aims to create a network of new and expectant mothers who will tackle new motherhood together.

New moms need support. They will benefit from meeting other new moms and experiencing and observing life with a newborn. The first few days postpartum, particularly for the first-time-mom, can be isolating and lonely. The emotional strain of this can be lessened in many ways. 

The first is by better understanding what to expect prior to delivery. When an expectant mom visits with a new mom, gets to hold a newborn, watches a mom breastfeed and change diapers, she gets a fuller picture of what her postpartum period will look like. 

The second is by receiving household and other postpartum help. Some new moms don't have family close by, or the financial resources to hire postpartum help. By having expectant moms providing the hours of support, new moms can receive help with laundry, dishes, cooking, childcare, or any other reasonable and expected task at no cost.

The third is by building a support network of other local moms in the same phase of parenthood. By volunteering and meeting other volunteers, new moms have a chance to make mom friends, to create their village.

Each mom who wishes to participate will receive very basic training (in the form of an easy-to-complete online lesson or by reviewing printed materials.) This educational component will aid in their ability to provide postpartum help, but also provide knowledge about what to expect in their own postpartum experience.

At what stage is your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

By contacting my local network of birth and postpartum workers and women's health advocates, I'd love to find a beta group of 6-12 local moms to try volunteering with each other. I would want their honest feedback about what is most helpful, about what support they need, and about any concerns or issues arise. From there, I'm hoping to develop a lightweight app, that would allow anyone to start this project in their community.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I need support in creating the educational materials and in asking experts what topics of postpartum life are the most under-addressed. I also want to create an app that any community leader or healthcare provider can use to start their own local network. I've been focusing on a grassroots approach, but am interested in partnering with established companies or projects that may provide support and guidance as we grow.

Tell us about your work experience:

I'm a mom who has always felt a call to birthwork. I trained as a doula, but have focused recently on supporting children transition to siblinghood. I'm also a writer of children's literature as well as parenting articles.

This idea emerged from...

  • An Individual

Are you an expecting, new, or experienced mom?

  • yes

Are you a healthcare practitioner?

  • no

Are you a current employee of UCB Pharmaceuticals or Sutter Health?

  • no

How would you describe this idea (in 2-3 sentences) while in an elevator with someone?

This is a peer support network that connects local moms in the same or similar phase of motherhood. Expectant moms will receive training on what to expect in the postpartum period and then use their new skills by providing postpartum support to local moms. Once a mom in the program delivers, she will receive the same kind of help.

What is the specific problem your idea is trying to solve? 1 sentence.

I talk to a lot of moms that felt very underprepared for the early days of motherhood; aside from healthcare workers and clinical support, what other ways can we help these mothers feel supported, less alone, and cared for?

How has your idea improved or evolved throughout the Refinement Phase?

With the help of my prototyping mentor, Valentina Sierra, we began to detail the user's journey. We discussed the best ways to prototype. With the user journey in hand, we came up with the scope of the app, determining which tasks new moms would mostly like help with. We talked to and surveyed new and expectant moms to hear their thoughts on the project. We also talked to healthcare providers, birth workers, public health workers and community leaders who may serve as an administrator for a local network once an app is developed. We also created fictitious personas to show the benefits this project could have. All of these steps are illustrated in the visuals above. Lastly, we did a prototyping interview with a new mom who faced challenges in her motherhood journey. It can be viewed here:

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

We want to continue to talk to caregivers, particularly those outside of my own community and focusing on caregivers that serve underserved women. In collecting anecdotes, we've seen that women without a community of other mothers often feel totally overwhelmed in the newborn period. We'd like to hear from mothers who receive postpartum help (through an app prototype) about what was most helpful, and what help they still feel they need.

What are your immediate next steps after the challenge?

We want to start creating the app/website where mothers could sign up for the project and could receive training on the postpartum period. We'd like to partner with postpartum doulas, midwives, obstetricians, pediatricians and lactation consultants on how to make the educational component of this project the most impactful.

How is your idea different or unique from what is currently on the market?

There is overwhelming information that new moms need more support, especially when looking at the prevalence of postpartum mood disorders. While these women could benefit from clinical help, that type of help isn't always accessible. Our idea puts a human face on the issue. We want to as many new mothers to receive help as possible. Instead of experienced clinicians being the only ones qualified to help, we want to acknowledge that anyone can help and learn and provide comfort and support.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Kendra

I wonder if there is a way to combine with the new mom to mom social app that's also participating in the challenge, Mush. Could your experience be somehow linked as a way to recruit or match volunteers? It seems like after being on an app to connect with other local women, they may also be inspired to connect with local women who are under-resourced for support and friendship. Just a thought! You should check Mush out in the challenge.

Photo of Olivia Hinebaugh

Thank you for this thought! I will definitely check it out. The idea of making it an app is a new one for this project, so that is especially helpful. Thank you!

Photo of Isabel Vega

Hello Olivia, congratulations for your idea!! I really wish it becomes a reality.
So, in order to contribute with you to do that, I would like to share with you some ideas that could complement yours:

* Strategic Alliances: Contact with public or private entities that may give you some funding to build the app, or to even hold virtual or real events once a week where the expecting moms attend to learn about some newly born care and use that knowledge when they volunteer. So that, first theory, then practice. Maybe they could get virtual certificates both for atrending to these learning events and/or for volunteering.

* Recognition to Specialists that contribute: You can have a section in a website or post to name (asking for permission) the specialists that are volunteering to provide info or answering questions moms have. There could even be statistics, graphics, or other symbols to show how active is that contributor. You could get inspired with to the OpenIDEO Profile features.

* Digital Marketing: You could use social networks such as Facebook or Twitter in order to keep the community united in one place and know about news. You could pay a small amount to promote a post or tweet taking advantage of the segmentation options they have. You could create one to get in touch with new moms, other to get in touch with expectant moms, other to get in touch with specialists like the ones you are intending to get in touch as a next step.

Finally, since I work in the software development field, I volunteer to give you technical advise or get you in touch with some colleages if you need any help or have questions on what to do next to build a website or app. I am also learning about design thinking and UX, so I would really love to help and give you feedback as a volunteer.

I love your idea! Please go forward!

Photo of Olivia Hinebaugh

Hi! And thanks so much for your comment. I love your ideas, especially about building partnerships. I would love to be in touch moving forward. Feel free to email me at oliviahinebaugh @ gmail . com (no spaces, obviously) :D

View all comments