Tennis superstar and mom to a 22-month-old, Serena Williams has joined Mark Cuban to invest $3 million seed funding in Mahmee, a startup working toward filling the critical care gap in postpartum care.
For those who’ve never given birth or who (count your blessings!) never had any mishaps in the hospital or afterwards, the weeks and months following childbirth can be extremely hard on the new mom, with estimates as high as one in five women suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety and about 9% of women experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childbirth — and those are just the mood and mental health disorders.
Physical recovery, even for those with a healthy, run-of-the-mill birth, takes at least six weeks — eight weeks if you’ve had a C-section. And then there are all the medical complications. Williams, who has a history of blood clots, ended up basically shouting at the doctors to give her a CT scan that saved her life.
The real issue, at the heart of all this, according to Mahmee co-founder Melissa Hanna, is that “the data is fragmented.” She says this is why she built a network to get new moms the support they need — from their community, other moms and medical providers.
Mahmee provides not only online group discussions with other moms going through the same thing and at the same stage but also connection to your medical provider. On top of that, it adds support from a trained “maternity coach” who can flag if something is wrong.
One example Hanna used was a new mom who was exhibiting symptoms of septic shock. The co-founder says a coach was able to call this mom on the spot and get her to contact her OB-GYN right away.
There are other online services like Postpartum Support International (PSI) and the Bloom Foundation, which both provide a sort of digital network and resources for new moms, but Hanna believes it is that missing link to medical professionals after mom has gone home from the hospital that really makes a difference.
“We’re so focused on delivering a healthy baby that mom gets side-lined,” she told TechCrunch. Adding in a statement, “And this industry is lacking the IT infrastructure needed to connect these professionals from different organizations to each other, and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems. This missing element creates gaps in care. Mahmee is the glue that connects the care ecosystem and closes the gaps.”
While other sites mentioned above are free to use, Mahmee, which goes beyond social support to providing engagement and patient monitoring, makes money through group and individual video calls (the introductory session with a coach is free) and various support groups. There are also different payment tiers starting at $20 a month and up toward $200 per month where new parents can ask unlimited questions through a HIPAA-secure, online dashboard connecting them with their medical providers and Mahmee coaches.
Do new moms need to pay someone to help them out and monitor them medically after they get home from the hospital? Possibly. Some local hospitals and medical networks also provide various types of help — both through counseling and new parent support groups. But often it can take weeks to get a counseling session at a busy hospital and your OB may have too many patients to call and check up on you. Having this type of support could just save your life — and, if anything else, checking in with a group of moms going through the same thing could be the key to saving your sanity.
Hanna admits it’s early days for her startup, but tells TechCrunch there are more than 1,000 providers in the Mahmee network so far. She plans to use the $3 million to grow her team, including engineers, clinicians and sales staff, and hints she’s working on several partnerships within the healthcare industry right now.