Maternal Health Expert Layo George On Why Community Is Crucial For New Birthing People - Exclusive

In Layo George's home country of Nigeria, every birth was a community event. Her mother, the community's midwife, delivered babies in people's homes, surrounded by others in the community. George often attended these births and immersed herself in the collective joy of new life.

Once the baby was born, the rest of the community sprang into action. People helped the new parents care for their baby, took care of their home in those first few days after the birth, and prepared food for the exhausted family. George revealed that in her native language, Yoruba, there's a word for this community care — "Eku owolomi," which literally means "happy dipping hands in water." She explained that the word represents the joyous postpartum period when "you're always washing the baby, washing cloth diapers, cleaning the mom ... making food; your hands are always in water."

When she moved to the U.S. and started working in maternal healthcare, George didn't see the same kind of community support going on, especially for parents of color. So she decided to create Wolomi, a pregnancy and parenting community and app named after the Yoruba word she heard so much in her childhood home. In an exclusive interview with Health Digest, George explained why community is so important for new parents and how Wolomi helps.

Wolomi creates and fosters connection

Layo George said that pregnancy, the postpartum period, and even parenting in general can be "a very lonely place." That's where the community comes in. Connecting with other parents lets new parents know that their struggles are not unique, that every new parent has been there before, and nobody has to do this alone. Wolomi helps connect parents during pregnancy and postpartum to provide that community.

Before the pandemic, Wolomi organized in-person events where pregnant people and new parents could connect face to face and get vulnerable and real about parenting. Since the app launched in December 2021, that community has moved online. Parents who download the app can chat directly with other parents, share their thoughts in public forums, and get the support they need from people who are dealing with the same things.

Since the app is exclusively for people of color, new parents of color know that they're connecting with people who understand their lived experiences. George said that she created Wolomi specifically for parents of color so they don't have to navigate pregnancy and parenting alone or with people who don't understand their lived experiences.

Community helps parents get what they need

Communities that share similar lived experiences can also empower parents within that community to advocate for themselves and get what they need from systems that aren't familiar with their lived experiences. Layo George said that Wolomi parents help each other navigate the healthcare system by sharing their accumulated knowledge, which helps them all have better experiences.

"[It's about] giving moms, one, a space and a community where they feel validated and a space where they have the tools to communicate with their provider, to be able to talk to their provider and get the kind of outcomes that they want, and a friendly place where healthcare is not the scary thing, providers are not the scary things," George explained. "There are people like us, who we can communicate with and take away that stress. Normalize that conversation that it really takes a village to have a healthy person."

Download the FREE Wolomi app in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and become a member of the community at no cost for a limited time. Join their tribe to connect with health experts and other women on their pregnancy journey.