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Chelsea Allison with her 15-month-old son, Henry. Allison started Motherfigure as a way to help expectant and new moms. (Credit: Chelsea Allison)
Chelsea Allison with her 15-month-old son, Henry. Allison started Motherfigure as a way to help other expectant and new moms. (Credit: Chelsea Allison)

When Chelsea Allison gave birth to her first child in late 2018, and then decided to start a business to help pregnant women and new moms a few months later, she never imagined she’d be raising both during a global pandemic.

Now, expecting moms all over the world have had to adapt both physically and mentally as they change their birth plans, hire midwives and prepare for doctors’ appointments in person and online.

“I’m completely bowled over by the people who are going through this now — pregnancy, birth, motherhood,” Allison said. “Covid-19 is exacerbating a lot of challenges of new motherhood and making it more difficult to rally our villages and feel supported during this time.”

Enter Motherfigure, Allison’s digital one-stop shop for soon-to-be moms in search of everything from a doula to a lactation consultant. In the time of coronavirus, the site offers virtual seminars around lactation, pelvic floor exercises and caring for newborns, as well as a new mom support group and resources for maternal mental health counselors.

[Related: This Indian Virologist Developed a Testing Kit for Coronavirus. Then She Gave Birth]

The site has also added birth centers as “people are starting to reevaluate their birth plans and birthing outside of the hospital,” said Allison, 32, who previously led marketing for fintech startup Plaid. “We’re trying to give more insight that can help people make the right choices for their families.”

“Our mission has been clarified through this,” she added. “It’s always been so important to get support, and I don’t think it’s ever been more important than now.”

The seminars on tap are free, Allison said, “because I think providing free resources is essential now. People need help and we need to make it as easy as possible for them.”

Motherfigure has a multi-pronged business approach—revenue comes from sales of leak-proof activewear, nursing pads and other products such as “Luxury Recycled Maternity-Friendly” tights, and from ads from original magazine content (top stories currently include essays about being quarantined with newborns and planning for postpartum depression). 

Allison, who launched with her own personal funds and continued working as a consultant on the side, said she is focusing mostly on the resource directory and the magazine right now. She currently does not have any employees.

Allison is hunkered down at home in Chicago with her husband, their 15-month-old son, Henry, and their cavapoo. “In many ways, I love that the world is getting more exposed to the challenges of working parents,” she said. 

[Related: Baby Horses Are Still Being Born: Running a Horse Sanctuary During Coronavirus]

Henry “is much more easily entertained indoors right now, and I don’t have to worry about homeschooling, so I’m very fortunate in many respects,” she continued.

Allison’s advice for parents? “Give yourselves patience and grace, because this is an unprecedented time,” she said.

This story has been updated to include additional details about self-funding and ad revenue.

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