After a 20 year journey as a nurse, doula and Lamaze childbirth educator supporting new mothers, Joanne Ilaqua of Kawartha Lakes wanted to find a way for mothers to have easy and confidential access to support whenever needed. The Innovation Cluster client created her innovative mobile app Mamasoup, connecting moms to each other for information, friendship and support. The app officially launched on the Apple App store in February 2018. After receiving a $7500 grant from the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP) for the design and development of an Android version, Mamasoup will launch on the Google Play Store in June 2018.
The inspiration for the app came to Ilaqua during her time as a nurse in labour and delivery and primary care. She discovered many new mothers sought support during their motherhood journey, and some struggled to find help or felt too uncomfortable to ask questions. Recognizing there should be an easy support system for every mother, Ilaqua took a chance starting Mamasoup, and says it was the best thing she’s ever done.
“Over those 20 years, it became very clear to me that moms aren’t receiving the support that we need and deserve while doing the most challenging job in the world,” says Ilaqua. “I realized that I can serve women in an innovative way and meet them where they’re at! So, I took all of my experience and teamed up with a company in Lindsay, Ontario called Colour and Code to create Mamasoup.”
The app, also available through an integrated desktop platform, has similar social media features as Facebook, where a news feed of local mother’s posts are available. Rather than adding friends, the app uses a mom’s location to provide a local support news feed. By only using a custom handle as an identity and avatars for profile pictures, users are able to stay anonymous while asking questions and providing tips.
According to CAMH, 13% of Canadian moms will experience postpartum depression. One of the clinically proven ways to help treat postpartum depression is by peer support. In 2016 Statistics Canada reported there were 444,700 stay-at-home mothers with at least one child under 16 years old. Various studies have found stay-at-home mothers are more likely to experience worry and depression due to lack of interaction with others outside of family. Mamasoup helps counter this by providing a mobile community of support.
“I get such an amazing feeling when I see moms positively impacting each other’s lives,” says Ilaqua. “It makes me feel so proud to know that I can provide a space for moms to connect”
The app also allows users to stay up to date with events and groups designated to a certain topic. By allowing the app to access your location, timelines are customized to show the closest information first, such as a sporting event for kids in town.
“The Innovation Cluster is excited to have expanded its regional boundaries in order to support new innovative ideas coming out of Kawartha Lakes,” says Rosalea Terry, Marketing Manager and Innovation Specialist. “It has been great to work with Joanne to bring her app to the next level.”
Wanting to continue her innovative creations, Ilaqua is creating online courses for moms who want childbirth education at their fingertips, from the practical perspective of a nurse and doula. Her first course is aimed at moms having a caesarean birth and it will be available at the end of June.
For more information, visit: http://www.mamasoup.ca/