Taking care of families, one new mom at a time
It’s been said that a new mother soon forgets the pain of childbirth, and that’s why firstborns eventually get siblings. Welcoming a newborn into the family is a complex–joyous and angst-ridden and a swirl of other emotions–occasion. Careful planning of those first few weeks and months at home can make the transition easier for the entire family, but especially for new moms.
“When I practiced in a traditional setting, I’d see new mothers come in, exhausted, in pain and frustrated,” says Janet West, M.D. The pediatrician had become disenchanted with the current medical model that placed insurance regulations and copious paperwork above spending time with patients. As she grew more dissatisfied, she also took steps to change the situation. Dr. West returned to school, earned an MBA and figured out that what she really loved was taking care of new moms and babies. “Once the baby is born, there is very little support for new mothers,” she says. “I could help change that paradigm.”
She developed RVA Baby–a personalized, holistic medical service– to fill in the large gap between what new mothers and their babies would benefit most from, and what they were getting in a traditional medical setting. “I was on the verge of quitting medicine,” Dr. West says. “Until this idea helped me realize things could be different.”
Her business model is simple but comprehensive. There are three packages from which a family (or someone who wants to give a meaningful gift) can select. RVA Baby provides 24/7 access to Dr. West’s knowledgeable, caring medical support. “Instead of new mothers having to bring their newborns to a clinic, hospital or office, I come to their home.”
The vast majority of the time, the well baby visit reveals the child is just fine, it’s mom who needs support. So, she kicks off her shoes, they park on the couch and work through any issues. Having a hard time sleeping? Exhausted all the time? Trouble breastfeeding? Partner not providing enough hand-on support? Older kids acting out? Sad and/or anxious? Dr. West is right there to help formulate plans and solutions and offer support, wisdom and reassurance.
As a board certified pediatrician, Dr. West and RVA Baby get referrals from other doctors, as well as midwives and doulas. So far, word of mouth has done the most to launch the seven month-old business. The fact that it is strictly cash-based has not deterred new mothers who know that highly personalized post-partum care is priceless in the first few weeks after giving birth. Health savings and flexible spending accounts can cover the entire cost and thoughtful grandparents and family friends are giving the service as a gift.
“I found out about the THRIVE network in the most delightful way,” she says. THRIVE mentor Sarah Choi–her first client–had just given birth to Max (aka Baby Bean). “The first thing she said to me was ‘You have no social media presence. I’m bored. Let’s get you on Instagram!’” Dr. West remembers, laughing. “She had me sign up for THRIVE that very day! Since then, she has been key to our growing success.”
Sarah suggested developing a subscription service to standardize RVA Baby’s income stream and adding support for babies up to one year old as well as expanding her blog to include online webinars and other information. So far, the infant business is thriving; Dr. West has the capacity to care for up to 25 newborn babies and their moms. But what happens as the business continues to grow?
“We’re talking about franchising, but that’s in the future. Right now, I’m really enjoying spending time–on average, about an hour each visit–caring for my clients,” Dr. West says. “The ability to provide that kind of holistic care is the reason I got into medicine in the first place. That’s the kind of service THRIVE provides. Sarah was my first new mom, and we can call on each other whenever we need to.”