Support. It’s what women are yearning for when it comes to their fertility, pregnancy and postpartum journey.
Obstetrics and gynecology visits in the U.S. average merely seven minutes long due to time constraints and patient volumes. That, combined with a dearth of trustworthy information online, has brands lining up to craft products and digital spaces to give women the support they need when it comes to fertility, pregnancy and postpartum care.
According to Trendalytics, special products that provide support to new and expecting mothers are gaining steam. For example, prenatal vitamins are experiencing steady growth with 226,000 average weekly searches, up 14 percent to last year. And market adoption for prenatals is up 13 percent in the last 30 days.
When it comes to supplements, wellness brands focused on reproductive health are working alongside physicians, nutritionists and other experts to help inform formulation. “There is a lack of trust and credibility in women’s health,” said Alex Taylor, cofounder and co-chief executive officer of Perelel. “It dates back to the ‘70s, and if we fast forward to today, the impacts are still being felt and solutions feel very one size fits all.”
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Perelel was founded by Taylor, Victoria Thain Gioia, and Dr. Banafsheh Bayati. The Los Angeles-based brand crafts supplements formulated by a team of doctors, including OBGYNs and reproductive endocrinologists. The range comprises of supplements dosed in daily sachets. They have a pack for each trimester, plus one for conception, a mom multivitamin and a general multivitamin trio for all women of reproductive age. For every subscription purchased, Perelel donates a supply of its prenatals to underserved women in the U.S. To date, they’ve supported over 16,000 women in under two years.
Additionally, the brand has created a community on a group communication app called Geneva. “We have different rooms where women can talk about the fertility journey,” said Taylor. “There’s even a room for loss. We created this space with all of these different topical areas so you can find other women that are experiencing the same thing and get their support.”
According to Latham Thomas, founder of Mama Glow, a global maternal health platform that matches doulas with families across the globe, these conversations around education and reproductive health have always been happening. It’s just now that people are starting to listen.
“There are very unique needs for fertility and so many different brands are trying to create ease and make it so that people can integrate these products in a lifestyle capacity and maintain optimal wellness,” she said. “That includes more beautiful packaging design and subscription models. I definitely see a lot of solutions in the supplement space and not just vitamins, but even tinctures are making it onto the scene on the postpartum side,” Thomas said.
Enter Needed, a supplement line that focuses on how nutrition can be used therapeutically during the life stage of conception, through pregnancy and postpartum.
“When designing our products, we want to hear insights from all different practitioners, OBGYNs, midwives, naturopathic doctors, registered dietitians and nutritionists, the full spectrum of what we view as perinatal care,” said Julie Sawaya, cofounder of Needed. “Everybody has slightly different areas of focus and different areas of expertise. And no one discipline has all of the answers.”
Sawaya added that 90-plus percent of women will see their primary care provider in this life stage, but that doctor may lack the nutrition background necessary to answer more detailed nutrient-related questions. “It’s just not part of a primary doctor’s training,” she said. “It’s not for lack of good intentions. For most OB visits, we’re finding there’s not enough time for women to get all of their questions answered.”
Needed is primarily direct-to-consumer, but is also sold through practitioner-grade supplement dispensary, Fullscript, and Amazon. The brand will be launching a kid’s line soon, which is said to be often requested. “So many companies have a prenatal vitamin, but they stop at a surface level of meeting women’s needs in this life stage,” said Sawaya. “Our vision is to be the destination for women to fully meet their nutrition needs.”
Meanwhile, support platforms for reproductive health are the rise, too. And no wonder. Across industries, there is an increased awareness of and interest in mental health. According to Trendalytics, mental health is an extreme volume trend and there are 249,000 average weekly searches for term, up 16 percent from last year.
“There’s been a lot of emphasis on depression and disorders in pregnancy, especially in the postpartum period,” said Dr. Leslie Orly, M.D. “There are three trimesters of pregnancy and we’ve now coined the phrase, the fourth trimester, which is the postpartum period where historically we didn’t pay too much attention to support mental health and lactation.”
But times are changing. Poppy Seed Health is a $29 a month or $5 per chat, on-demand app that connects pregnant and postpartum users, as well as those who have experienced a loss, with a doula, nurse or midwife in 90 seconds or less. “We center emotional and mental health support, which is completely missing from our current maternal health care journey,” said Simmone Taitt, founder and CEO of Poppy Seed Health.
The app is less than a year old and includes over 400 advocates across the country. Poppy Seed Health will also introduce critical support for fertility and partners in the near future.
“The biggest thing is education,” noted Thomas. “Regardless of whether or not you’re going to become a doula, doula training is a wonderful pathway to come to know your body and be able to learn how to advocate for yourself. Especially in a time that we’re living through where our bodies are under attack, legislatively. Policy-wise, our rights are being chipped away. It’s so important to understand what you’re fighting for.”
Loom believes this to be true, too. The well-being platform empowering women through sexual and reproductive health education is focused on helping women check in with how their bodies are doing through microlearning.
“Right now, we have one program ($12 a month) which is focusing on pregnancy and postpartum,” said Erica Chidi, cofounder and CEO of Loom. “It’s a mixture of videos, audio conversations, and written guides that help support a person throughout their pregnancy into the early postpartum period. However, what we recently launched is something called the Symptom Checker, a free, feelings forward, trauma-informed symptom guide for typical symptoms that come up in a woman’s body and be able to communicate them to their doctor. You could describe it as WebMD, but with feelings.”
The platform will be also launching an app at the end of the year to help women navigate their own internal health and healthcare experience.
“Right now, folks are realizing, especially living in the pandemic, that prevention is really important,” added Chidi. “We need to do more to take care of ourselves in order to be in the best possible state to conceive another human.”
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