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Introducing Irth, the App Fighting for Equitable Care for BIPOC Birthing People

Daphne Thompson | March 22, 2021

Until now, Black and brown parents and people from all marginalized groups had no way of seeing reviews of care from other people of color as a front-end tool for choosing an Ob-GYN, birthing hospital, or pediatrician. This fact is especially troubling when we consider the statistics that, in the United States, Black birthing people are 3-4x more likely to lose their lives due to pregnancy-related complications than their white counterparts. Advocacy is a critical need as we work to combat the Black maternal health crisis in the United States. Access to a full breadth of educational resources and information derived from first-hand experiences can prove lifesaving. That’s where Irth comes in.

Irth is a social change tool created by Black mother and breastfeeding advocate, Kimberly Seals-Allers via her tech non-profit, Narrative Nation Inc, to address a root cause of the Black maternal and infant mortality crises – racism and bias in care. Bias based on your race, class, gender identification, marital status or sexual orientation can impact the quality of care you receive, which means having access to candid and honest reviews about care providers and establishments could quite literally be a matter of life or death. Irth aims to improve transparency, public accountability, and data as we work together, as a community, toward systemic and institutional change.

Seals-Allers, motivated by her own experiences, asserts that she is “on a mission to bring equity to pregnancy and childbirth for every Black and brown mama and baby.” When she was pregnant with her first child, Seals-Allers remembers feeling traumatized and violated by her hospital birth experience. In spite of the rave reviews ranking the New York City hospital she was set to deliver in, her care was negatively impacted by bias and poor treatment. Even today, perceptions of negative care due to race, ethnicity, cultural background, and language do not have a role to play when it comes to ranking maternity and pediatric healthcare services. Recognizing this, Seals-Allers stepped in to take that facet of a broken healthcare system into her own hands.

Once you’ve downloaded the Irth app, you have access to a breadth of information in the form of prenatal, birthing, postpartum, and pediatric reviews of care providers, written by other Black and brown women and parents who have experienced their care and services first-hand. The app collects data from its users and reviewers to identify behaviors and patterns suggestive of the kind of care a person of color might expect to receive from that particular establishment.

Irth is grant-funded by the California Health Care Foundation, the Tara Health Foundation, and the Grove Foundation. The research that has been committed not only to the development to the app’s technology, but to the communities most in need of it, proves that Seals Allers and her team were the right people to bring Irth forth in the fight for true reproductive health equity. 

The first-of-its-kind Yelp-like app for Black and brown women and birthing people to find and leave reviews of Ob/GYNs, birthing hospitals, and pediatricians is now available in the Google Play and Apple app stores! Download the Irth app here!

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