Two New Yorkers Bring Moms a Postpartum Support Subscription
I recently spoke with a girlfriend who moved to Amsterdam from New York and gave birth to her second child right around the pandemic. While both births went well, her postpartum experience between the two births was such a huge difference. She had zero support with baby #1 while tremendous postpartum support in her new European city. Here in the US, there is not a significant focus on the mother’s health and mental health, which, as many mothers know, becomes secondary as soon as the baby is born.
Jane Baecher and Ariana Saunders understand all too well that postpartum support is vital for new moms, especially after Jane experienced challenges in postpartum birth. With knowledge and deep research and bridging Eastern and Western philosophies, they partnered with medical doctors and Eastern practitioners to bring mothers Anya.
I chated with them recently to learn what drove them to start this new venture and learn more about Anya.
What encouraged you two to start Anya?
Jane: When I became pregnant, I spent 9 months preparing for pregnancy and birth – reading books, attending classes, visiting my doctor and building my baby registry. Yet I didn’t know that I needed to prepare for what I would go through after. After giving birth, I struggled in ways I hadn’t seen coming. How to deal with sleep deprivation, boost my milk production, recover hair loss or deal with the overall depletion that I felt— it was overwhelming and I didn’t know where to find answers or solutions.
Our culture pays very little attention to the needs of women after birth. After pregnancy, the focus shifts entirely to the baby, leaving new mothers and their health needs neglected. This isn’t the case throughout the rest of the world. In most other countries, there is a support system for women during this stage: from familial support to rich cultural traditions focused on nourishment and recovery support for the mother. I dove into research – it was incredible to discover the ways that other countries focus on maternal health and nutrition for healing. I scoured Indian and Chinese markets to find traditionally-used herbs and ingredients for postpartum recovery and brewed and developed remedies I couldn’t find and desperately needed for myself. But this was completely unrealistic – no new mom has time to spend 24 hours brewing recipes to help her heal. Women needed to know and have access to solutions that could make a meaningful difference in their postpartum health, and I was determined to make that happen.
When I set out to build Anya, there was only one person who I knew could help make this happen: Ariana, my best friend since we went to school together at Cornell. After starting our careers together at Bloomingdale’s, she went on to build data-driven strategies and analytics at goop, One Kings Lane and J. Crew. I had lived this experience of becoming a mother and had a deep connection to what women I knew wished they had; Ariana came on to broaden this and find the data we needed to help as many women as possible.
Ariana: We dove deep into research right away about postpartum maternal care in the US and identified how women were lacking sufficient knowledge and solutions on many levels. We surveyed thousands of women about their experience after giving birth and the results were overwhelming. We built Anya to solve what women were needing, and spoke to them directly to make sure we were developing the solutions they were lacking. Addressing the top challenges women told us they faced, we worked with experts to formulate products for energy, lactation, postnatal nutrient gaps, skin issues, hair loss and more, all delivered in a monthly subscription plan, to bring these solutions together in one place and take the research and the questions off new moms’ plate. Our goal is to help women feel better during this incredible transition, and to make their lives easier – that’s what we’re solving with Anya.
When you interviewed 2,000 plus moms on their postpartum stories, what sorts of experiences were you told?
It was clear women could not find effective products to help them with what they were going through postpartum, or that felt safe to take while breastfeeding. From hair loss to exhaustion and breastfeeding challenges, many women said they couldn’t find anything that helped. What goes in our bodies while breastfeeding is just as important as while pregnant, and 86% of women told us they turned to their OB/GYN and medical practitioners to guide their health decisions and solutions. As the regular doctors appointments during pregnancy drop to just one visit postpartum, we knew to instill trust it was critical that all Anya products would be doctor reviewed. Women also told us they struggled with getting adequate nutrition. Of those who continued taking vitamins, 90% continued with their prenatal though the nutritional requirements for postpartum recovery and while lactating are different. At a time when having regularity and balance in your diet can be very challenging, it was important we helped make meeting nutritional requirements easy. Everything from our products to our content and our Recovery Plan were developed with trust and convenience at the forefront.
There was a big gap in information and education. Many women told us they wished they had as clear of a guide for what to expect postpartum as they did during pregnancy. We were determined to end the Google rabbit holes and provide credible information to help women prepare for postpartum. We knew that we needed to build a singular resource in partnership with experts across women’s health where women could find the information and solutions they needed, all in one place.
In comparison to other countries, say Europe, the US does not have postpartum care that benefits mothers and families -how does Anya help in this care?
There are so many areas we lack maternal support in the US, from policy and legislation to healthcare and societal views. Our goal with Anya is to show women that their health after birth matters, and that they can have access to information and solutions to help them prepare and navigate through the critical 12+ months of postpartum recovery.
When access to medical practitioners can be challenging, we wanted to bring the experts and their advice directly to women. We’ve bridged Eastern and Western philosophies by partnering with health practitioners, including OB/GYNs, pediatricians, nutritionists, herbalists and doulas, to understand women’s key postpartum needs. We created an arsenal of expert-developed content filled with what women were asking these practitioners the most, and the guidance they wish they could arm new mothers with. These partners were also involved step by step in the development of our products, and in creating a first-of-its-kind postpartum recovery plan.
89% of what determines our health occurs outside of the clinical space. Sleep, nutrition, mental and emotional health are all key factors that often aren’t addressed at the doctor’s office. We focus on the top issues that postpartum women experience such as nutrient depletion, fatigue, breastfeeding challenges, hair loss, skin repair, and mental and emotional health challenges, providing women with credible guidance and breastfeeding-safe, doctor-reviewed solutions to cope with these challenges.
We’ve built your postpartum plan, so that you don’t have to. We developed 8 products that are inner and outer solutions tackling key postpartum issues, and created a monthly recovery plan that changes to meet each stage of postpartum recovery. With Anya, we are enabling women to take a proactive role in their health and well-being after birth.
What are the next steps for both of you and Anya?
The response we’ve received as we have launched has been incredible. To provide women with relief and support and help them feel better during such an important time is exactly why we started this, and we’re excited to continue to reach more expectant and new moms. We see many things on the horizon for Anya, from extending our product offering to tackle more of the issues women are struggling with, to expanding distribution to provide Anya to women in a multitude of ways. We are focused on making support accessible to more women, both by partnering with insurance platforms and employers to mitigate costs and by launching our non-profit efforts. We are honored to be working with Freida Pinto, Anya’s Chief Impact Officer, who is in the midst of her own postpartum journey, and is passionate about leveraging her platform to further maternal support and lead our give-back efforts to help mothers in need.