For New York City resident and Poppy Seed Health creator, Simmone Taitt, the pain associated with pregnancy loss and the often complicated journey to parenthood were the driving factors for her launching the app. The dismissal of her healthcare provider and the loneliness felt after being told she had miscarried, were emotions she didn't want other birthing people to experience.
"I had my first pregnancy loss in 2016 and have had many since on what is still a very complicated journey to parenthood. I was seeing one of the top OB/GYNs in New York City, and we couldn't find a heartbeat," Taitt shares. "It was during my first trimester, and I was devastated. Instead of getting the kind of care and comfort that I thought I should get from my provider, she looked at me and said “my body had terminated the pregnancy” which was jarring to hear. She said, 'It's normal, happens all the time. I'll see you on your next visit.' And she left the room. I was shocked."
She spent much of that day on the internet searching for information on what her next steps could and should be. After stumbling upon a doula board, she had an "ah-ha" moment, which led her to want to not only become one, but to also create a platform that provided emotional and mental health support to birthing people.
"Before that, I didn't know what a doula was. Just reading through the threads, I felt seen," shares Taitt. "I felt heard. I didn't feel so isolated, and I started to feel better."
We spoke further with the maternal health founder, who's app was recently featured as an Apple App of the Day for Black History Month—to get more insight on everything Poppy Seed Health entails.
EBONY: Talk about Poppy Seed Health and what users are able to do within the app.
Simmone Taitt: It connects people who are pregnant, postpartum or who have experienced loss with our doulas, midwives, and nurses in 90 seconds or less. Real people in real time, with a free evidence-based educational library. We are available 24/7/365.
And when we say 24/7, we don't mean that you can reach out 24/7, and we'll eventually get back to you. We mean on-demand chats. If you can imagine someone who needs emotional, mental health and well-being support, they're able to get to one of our advocates very quickly when they request the chat, which is all text-based. We are building the largest network of diverse advocates in the country, with 50% of our network being BIPOC and 30% identifying as LGBTQIA+.
Why is this work important?
This work is important because we cannot continue to put band-aids on a healthcare system that continues to fail us during a time in our lives when we deserve to be joyful, supported and stress-free when starting our families or trying to navigate our reproductive healthcare. Poppy Seed Health is grounded in emotional and mental health support because we believe that by leveraging the power of technology to create a safe, trusted and non-judgmental space has the power for seismic change for generations of birthing people to come.
What’s coming next for the app? Anything users can look forward to?
Our matching algorithms are incredible, and we are doubling down on that. We will be introducing support for partners, NICU parents, those trying to conceive and deeper continuity of care for emotional and mental health support so that Poppy Seed Health is your go-to trusted partner on your journey.
We are missing emotional and mental health support in our reproductive and maternal healthcare system today. Nearly 7 million people live in a maternal healthcare desert, which means they are 90 miles or more away from their closest provider, hospital or clinic. Black and Brown women—who look just like me—have the highest mortality and morbidity rates in the country that are widely preventable and unacceptable. Furthermore, 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned and our reproductive rights are under attack in almost half of our country where people need access to care the most.