Wolomi is the first online pregnancy community created by a Black nurse for women of color. The app connects women of color on their pregnancy journey to information and mental health screening.
In recognition of Maternal Mental health month, we spoke to Wolomi founder, Layo George to learm more about her business and her mission to improve the pregnancy journey by connecting women of color to clinically accessible information, culturally sensitive health experts, mental health screenings, midwifery philosophy, & a supportive community!
What inspired you to start Wolomi?
While working as a delivery nurse in the Midwest. I saw firsthand the differences in the level of health care between white women and women of color.
Care gaps for women of color are an overwhelming reality, as they are three times more likely to die in pregnancy and postpartum depression. When I was pregnant with my child, I didn’t want to die, I wanted a safe and positive experience.
My experience was very positive because I created it myself, however, this is not a reality for all women of color. I wanted to help women navigate the system so they would have better pregnancy outcomes, joy and better care.
What are some of the effects of not addressing maternal health?
We have seen during the pandemic that women of color, especially Black women fare worse in the health system during their pregnancy period. We are basically not getting better at this.
The issue is more of the effects of not addressing it properly. Just because a solution is digital does not necessarily make it culturally competent and relevant for women of color.
The side effect of us not addressing maternal health appropriately means women of color are more likely to experience stress, suffer and die during a time that is supposed to be a joyful time.
What are some strategies mothers and mothers-to-be can use to combat maternal health challenges?
- Make sure that you pick the right provider (doctor, midwife) that understands you, and that you trust.
- Realize that you are a customer in the healthcare system, always ask questions, amplify the things you like and reject what you don’t.
- Use tools like the Wolomi App to help you prep and find the words you need when going to your provider (doctor or midwife)
- Trust your gut and yourself
- Create a community around you. You can’t do it alone, and it is ok. There are great platforms like the Wolomi App where you can find moms like you on the journey.
- Don’t be afraid to use a professional therapist especially when things get rough.
Do you feel that the pandemic has had an effect on maternal mental health?
Oh yes. At the beginning of the pandemic, we got a lot of messages from moms scared, especially with some of the restrictions that were placed in the birthing places.
Things constantly change and that can be hard for aspiring moms, moms-to-be, and new moms. Not only do they have to navigate constant changes, at times they have to do it in isolation.
Birthing people are being asked to shoulder a lot mentally.
What are some maternal health-related solutions that you would like to see implemented in the healthcare industry?
We have a real shortage of culturally competent maternal health providers. The waitlist can be very long and sometimes it can be very expensive (if your insurance doesn’t cover the therapist you like, etc).
I would like to see more platforms that address the recruitment and training of culturally competent mental health providers.