Company Spotlight

Healing Black Mothers: Ijeoma Uche & Mercy Oladipo’s Birth by Us


In our ongoing series highlighting trailblazers in maternal health, we introduce Birth by Us, an app meticulously crafted by Ijeoma Uche, MPH, and Mercy Oladipo. Designed by and for Black women, this platform offers a suite of features that includes health tracking, community support, and culturally specific resources. These features aim to enhance the birthing experience for mothers while providing vital insights for healthcare providers.

Ijeoma Uche (L) and Mercy Oladipo (R)

From Research to Real-World Impact

Ijeoma Uche's venture into maternal health was ignited by a blend of personal revelation and professional determination, deeply influenced by the alarming maternal mortality rates that resonated with her own experiences. "Only a few other people in the classroom felt the statistics as deeply as I did," Uche recalls, marking a pivotal moment in her educational journey. This awakening led to a shift towards translating academic research into tangible tools with real-world impact, moving beyond mere publication. "I was drawn back by how our intentions focused mainly on publishing, not directly impacting moms," Uche shares, reflecting on her transition from prestigious roles at institutions like Brown and Berkeley to the impactful realm of co-founding Birth by Us. Her Nigerian heritage and the cultural expectations placed upon her initially guided her toward a career in medicine, but it was the personal stories of family and the stark realities faced by Black women in healthcare that solidified her commitment.

Mercy Oladipo's journey intersected with Uche's, united by a shared mission and a personal narrative intertwined with the complexities of Black motherhood. Oladipo, who holds a computer science and biology background from MIT, was propelled by her technical expertise and a personal confrontation with infertility. "I didn't want to wait until becoming a mother myself to start addressing the issues I knew existed," Oladipo reveals, her story underlining a proactive stance against the challenges faced by Black women in maternal health. "Seeing the statistics as a Black woman thinking about conceiving down the line was a wake-up call," she adds, emphasizing the stark need for actionable solutions tailored to the unique needs of Black mothers.

Together, Uche and Oladipo's combined experiences and insights form the cornerstone of Birth by Us, an initiative designed to transform maternal care for Black women by marrying data-driven solutions with deep, personal understanding.

"I didn't want to wait until becoming a mother myself to start addressing the issues I knew existed." — Mercy Oladipo

Innovating for Community and Care

At the core of Birth by Us is the principle of building "with and for the community." This ethos is vividly illustrated in the app's approach to everyday health concerns. "Many moms didn't know when it was the right time to seek care," Uche points out, highlighting a feature developed from feedback in focus groups that empowers mothers to monitor their health signs closely. This functionality enables mothers to attend appointments armed with data, transforming how they advocate for themselves and communicate with healthcare providers.

Another innovative aspect of Birth by Us is the reimagining of routine check-ins as acts of self-care, alongside fostering a supportive community where mothers can exchange experiences and advice. Integrating doulas into the application is a testament to the app's holistic approach, ensuring mothers have advocates who prioritize their voices and choices throughout the birthing process.

Feedback-Driven Development and Looking Ahead

Birth by Us thrives on continuous feedback from its community of users, with focus groups and direct communications shaping every innovation. "It's our job just to listen and build," reflects the team, demonstrating their commitment to responding to the actual needs and desires of the mothers they serve. This dedication ensures the platform evolves in alignment with the community it supports, whether adding new features or refining existing ones.

Looking to the future, Uche and Oladipo are keen to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to enhance the personalized care Birth by Us offers. They remain cautious, however, about ensuring these technologies are employed meaningfully and inclusively, especially given the historical data gaps in Black communities.

Overall, Birth by Us is supported by an extensive network of mentors, academic institutions, and strategic partnerships united in their commitment to advancing maternal health. Among these are esteemed universities such as Brown, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and MIT, alongside collaborations with Momentum Park and various state-wide partnerships. Additionally, the initiative has been bolstered by a grant from the Westly Foundation. "We're incredibly grateful for the immense support from our mentors and institutions," Uche says, recognizing the collective drive that fuels their mission.

"It's our job just to listen and build." — Ijeoma Uche and Mercy Oladipo

Engage and Contribute to a Healthier Future

Inspired by the vision and dedication of Ijeoma Uche and Mercy Oladipo? Discover how you can support Birth by Us, join their team, or benefit from its services by visiting their website. Similarly, if you're passionate about contributing to meaningful research that can lead to real change in maternal health, Research With Moms welcomes you. Join our diverse network of moms and researchers working together to shape the future of motherhood.