About us

“I am on a mission to equalize the experience of giving birth in this country for every person.”

- Kimberly Seals Allers

Creator, IRTH App

i’m kimberly.

I had my first child days after completing my master’s degree at Columbia University. I was unwed and on student insurance. At the hospital, which was supposedly one of the best in New York City based on all the mainstream ranking services, I was completely disrespected, my wishes were ignored and I left feeling traumatized and violated. I was treated like an unwed black woman with basic insurance and I always wondered why a hospital that had treated others so well, treated me so poorly.

Researchers at Stanford University and others have documented what women have been saying all the time — implicit bias impacts the care and treatment we receive. In the most recent Listening to Mothers national childbearing survey, 21% of black mothers and 19% of Hispanic mothers hospitalized for childbirth reported perceptions of poor treatment due to race, ethnicity, cultural background, or language. Yet we continue to only rank maternity services on availability of private rooms, the food and whether you can have overnight visitors.

“I’m on a mission to bring equity to pregnancy and childbirth for every Black and brown mama and baby.”

This focus on amenities versus the “experience” is rooted in a false assumption that the care will be equal for everyone. Unfortunately, the evidence proves this is simply not true. We need a new metric.

the irth team

Vanessa Nwagwu
Head of Products
Lade Ehikhamenor
Community Engagement Manger
Zuri Avery
Project Coordinator and Executive Assistant
Ruby Chu
Data Analyst
Sheridan Blackwell
Head of Systems Change and Partnerships
Leslie Coney
NBEC Research Scholar

We were birthed at MIT!

Irth moved from concept to mobile prototype thanks to an amazing team at the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” Hackathon at MIT in March 2018.

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Tara Health Foundation, a $200,000 grant from the California Healthcare Foundation and a $100,000 grant from the Grove Foundation, Irth has begun community-led review collection campaigns in several cities as well as started development of the digital platform.

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