(badass moms of RealSelf (left to right): Anya, Alicia, Carly, Jasmin, Peiwen, Angie)
By Carly Reni, HR Business Partner at RealSelf
On Christmas Day, 2016, I had the honor of becoming a Mother. And although that was only a year and a half ago, it seems unfathomable that there could have been an App that connected me to a new baby support specialist or certified Lactation Consultant to make sure what was happening with my baby and me was normal.
“Is it OK for my daughter to drink more than 4oz of milk in one feeding at 10 weeks?”
“Is it safe to feed her a bottle that she didn’t finish this morning, a few hours later? What about a day later?”
Since I had my daughter during the Holiday season, I wasn’t always able to get through to my Doctor or a Lactation Specialist on the phone – they too take well deserved time off! But as a first time parent who readily admits to worrying too much, I would have given anything to have had access to a network of certified baby experts in the wee hours of the night during those first days, weeks, months to ease my concerns and tell me things were OK, or confirm that I should schedule an appointment with my Doctor right away.
That is why I am so excited to have had the chance to get to know Shana Lawlor, Co-Founder and CEO of Momseze, a company that is changing the way that parents are supported during their unique journey into parenthood. Momseze is a support and education solution that immediately connects parents to nurses, certified lactation consultants and baby care experts 24/7/265, directly through their app, via video, voice or text. RealSelf partnered with Momseze in March of 2018, when we added the Momseze subscription to our benefits catalogue for new parents. Since then, we have already received such positive feedback from our new parents using the Momseze App.
Carly Reni (CR): Shana, thank you for taking the time to speak to me. It feels especially timely to talk to you as we approach Mother’s Day!
Tell me about the lightbulb moment that you had that led to the creation of Momseze.
Shana Lawlor (SL): Almost two years ago my older sister gave birth to my beautiful nephew. It was amazing to meet and hold him for the first time but honestly, I was just as happy that my sister was OK and the delivery went well. The next morning, I was the first to see her in the hospital and when I walked through the door and asked her how everything was going , she answered “Great!”. I smiled and then turned my back to put my bags down and she added in a few sentences that clued me into how it was REALLY going. It felt like that moment in the movies when you hear a horrible screech and then the music stops. When I turned back around, I was in full-on sister fix-it mode and because she was still in the hospital, it was relatively easy to ask a nurse or a lactation consultant a question. My brother-in-law and I googled everything else but when she got home it was a different story. My mom is a nurse, so help was always close by, but even then my sister had to leave the house several times, just after giving birth, to get help with nursing. I felt like a helpless bystander and I was really upset and shocked at the effort my sister and brother-in-law had to put into getting the support they needed, not to mention the money they spent.
That experience was ultimately what inspired Momseze because being a parent is hard and parents should never feel alone, unsure, isolated or unable to ask an expert for help because it’s a holiday or after hours, you feel you’ve called your provider too many times, or you’re worried your question may sound strange. Not every family has the benefit of having a grandmother who is a nurse, but with Momseze, now you do and all of our consultants are certified lactation consultants too.
CR: I think a lot of people can relate to your story – there are so many unknowns that you encounter immediately after delivery and beyond.
When you first started the company, did you envision Momseze services’ would become a benefits solution for Employers?
SL: That’s a great question. We began marketing Momseze directly to consumers but shortly after we launched our original product, we were approached by a couple of companies that asked us if we had an employer offering. I knew that our services would be a great benefits solution so we did the research, tested the market and pivoted. It was a really cool pivot that was thrust upon us by some really great employers, and so to make a long story short, sometimes, the path in front of you isn’t what you thought it would be, but its the right one for you, and it makes sense to take it.
CR: How lucky for Employers who now have the opportunity to provide this unique benefit to Employees!
One of the more understated benefits that your team of Momseze Consultants can help new parents with, is returning to work after leave. Why do you think this type of support is so important?
SL: Whether you are a first time, second time, or even third time parent, after baby arrives, nothing seems as important as taking care of your child. Which leaves a lot of Moms and Dads dreading the day they have to return to work. Nearly 80% of parents experience some form of baby blues which can be compounded by the ticking clock of maternity or paternity leave ending. That’s why it’s so important for parents to have back-to-work support. It’s not just about helping parents with the logistics of returning to work, it’s about telling them they’re not alone in how they feel and giving them the time and tools to process the emotional ups and downs they’re experiencing. Helping your employees successfully return to work can make the difference between a happy and healthy employee, and an absent one.
CR: Absolutely. Any way that Employers can help ease the transition back to work for parents will result in a more mutually beneficial and healthy relationship.
What is the most surprising feedback you have received as a result of starting Momseze?
SL: The most surprising feedback I’ve received was from an ER Doctor that called us at 3AM with his wife and newborn daughter. He said “As a Doctor in the ER, I’m comfortable with intense, high stress situations but when that situations involves your wife and newborn daughter all bets are off.” I love that testimonial, not just because it’s from an ER Doctor, but because if you’ve ever been in a situation where you’re trying to help someone you love and you can’t, you get it, and you can understand why our services are so important.
CR: Well put. We’re all human, and doing the best we can – but why not take additional support if and when you need it, especially if it is accessible at your fingertips!