New app created to empower Black and brown women during pregnancy

PITTSBURGH — Maternal and fetal mortality rates are higher for Black women than any other demographic, especially in Pittsburgh, but now a new app is hoping to close the racial gap and save lives.

“It really highlighted things that Black woman had been saying for a really long time, but now folks are listening,” said Jada Shirriel, the CEO of Healthy Start Incorporated. Healthy Start Inc. is a Pittsburgh-based non-profit working to support mothers, babies and their families through a holistic lens.

In 2019, the city released its gender equity report that found that while Pittsburgh is one of the most livable cities for some, it isn’t for Black women.

“In Pittsburgh, Black women are paid 50 cents on the dollar of a white man,” explained Shirriel.

The outlook is far worse for pregnant Black women, who experience fetal mortality at rates four times higher than their white counterparts.

“A Black woman who is highly-educated has a higher risk of having her baby die before his or her first birthday than a white woman with a GED,” said Shirriel.

A new app Irth hopes to empower Black and brown women during pregnancy by allowing them to track their hospital and medical experiences.

“We provide an accountability mechanism and data for hospitals and providers to improve the maternity care in Pittsburgh,” said, Irth, founder, Kimberly Seals Allers.

The app provides a community that spans 48 states and is 15,000 users strong.

“If we don’t get to this underlying issue of addressing racism and bias and understanding how that shows up, we will not get to address this issue,” said Allers.

The Irth app is free to download on any smart device, and as founder Kimberly Seals Allers said, it’s a platform to empower Black women and through technology push for change.