Irth App Elevates Black Voices in Birth and Lactation

February 7, 2022

If you were at this year’s California Breastfeeding Summit, you heard firsthand the initial results of data collected by the Irth app during Kimberly Seals Allers’ keynote presentation.

Irth is a Yelp-like app that allows Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) to share their in-hospital birthing experiences for others to read and consider.

At the time of Kimberly’s presentation, a little more than 700 reviews had been submitted by Californians — mostly birthing parents with a few doulas and midwives included as well. 

The data wasn’t pretty. Californians reported feeling ignored, having formula given to their babies without consent and a lack of fundamental lactation support in the hospitals. 

Though the reviews were hard to hear, they provide a necessary starting point to improve birth experiences among Black and Brown families here in California and across the nation. As Kimberly so succinctly said at the Summit: Without transparency, there is no accountability. And without accountability, there is no improvement.

The Irth app accomplishes what we’ve been talking about for years. It centers the lived experiences of people served by the health care system, so we can see what’s working and not working from their perspectives to effect change that makes a real difference for real people.

The Irth app has the power to provide the qualitative data necessary to present a complete picture of where we can improve throughout the state. And so we’re continuing our partnership with Irth throughout 2022.

We can’t change what we can’t see.

We encourage you to support this partnership by using the app yourself and helping the families you serve use it as well. Despite mentioning our partnership several times in our newsletter and on social media, several of our Summit attendees reported on their evaluations that they had no idea Irth existed. 

Our organization has to do better. We pledge to throw the full weight of our support behind this initiative and to make sure you have access to resources and information that will help you to do the same.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Kimberly and Irth are featured right now in the Apple App Store for Black History Month, and the app is also hosting a Race to Safer Birth. The first city to achieve 5,000 in-app reviews wins — you can follow the city rankings in the app.

Please take a moment to download the app from either the Apple or Google Play stores, and if you already have the app, leave a review in the app store to amplify its visibility. We need to hear from parents, doulas and hospital-based midwives from throughout the state to fully understand how Black and Brown families experience birth in our state. Identifying trends in positive and negative experiences will help us to model excellence and improve the standard of care for everyone.