As a mother to three kids with one on the way, Chelsea Hirschhorn knows first-hand just how lacking post-birth support can be for mothers. It’s this exact reason that she sought out to create Frida Mom, a company that takes new moms’ varying circumstances into consideration, so they feel supported and less stressed without having to figure things out for themselves. After launching countless products for babies – that NoseFrida is a lifesaver! – and moms, they have expanded their line to focus on the fourth trimester and women who have had C-sections.
“Culturally, we’ve done these women a disservice by painting a picture of C-section moms as ‘lucky’ to have skipped a vaginal delivery, often labeling it ‘the easy way out.’ Anyone who’s had a C-section would agree there is no easy exit,” Hirschhorn says. “Our mission is to prepare women for these transformative life experiences, and in service of that mission, we’ve taken a more holistic approach to serving this community by addressing all possible outcomes. C-section moms have been an afterthought when it comes to preparation, information and support until now.”
It’s Hirschhorn’s mission with Frida Mom to prioritize women as much as their new bundles of joy. “There are about four million babies born in the U.S. every year, and with them, countless products, books and doctors' appointments that focus on newborn care,” she admits. “However, the four million women who gave birth to those babies are told to check in with their physician six weeks post-delivery and are sent on their way from the hospital to navigate that delicate physical transformation into motherhood alone. Women are left insta-hacking a recipe for "padsicles" and D-I-Ying their way through tending to their stitched-up post-delivery bodies.” Below Hirschhorn discusses the very overlooked reality when it comes to postpartum care and how she plans to keep moving the brand forward for all women.
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What inspired you to start Frida Mom?
“I was disenchanted by the lack of progress in postpartum recovery solutions following my second pregnancy and concluded that we had the resources and know-how to overhaul not only the products available to women but also to revolutionize the preparation experience by creating an entirely new category of consumer products dedicated to making a first-time mom feel as informed and confident as a third- or even fourth-time mom. Demystifying the raw realities of the fourth trimester has now become the team's obsession, and we’ve had a lot of success along the way – from our postpartum recovery line that now includes a full assortment of C-section-specific products to our breast care and pregnancy support products.”
What made you want to partner with SI Swimsuit?
“Joining Sports Illustrated Swim as its first official Pay With Change brand partner is a perfect fit for Frida Mom because you have a valuable platform to disrupt the traditional narrative around women’s bodies – especially those you feature who are mothers. It allows our brand to take another valuable step forward on our mission to shift those cultural narratives associated with motherhood. We’re thrilled that Sports Illustrated Swimsuit appreciates the importance of highlighting these women authentically—C-section scars and all—and welcome the progress we will make together as a result of this shared commitment.”
Why are these new products so effective in helping women heal from C-sections?
“The Frida Mom C-section recovery line is the first of its kind, designed specifically with engineers and medical professionals to address the ubiquitous physical pain that each woman recovering from a C-section experience–from crippling abdominal recovery to healthy scar formation. At the hospital, women are given post-op solutions designed for other surgeries (like hernia belts) and once home, they’re left scouring message boards to hack their way through pain relief like holding pillows against their incisions when coughing or sneezing.”
Do you cultivate your offerings based on feedback from women?
“We leverage a variety of qualitative and quantitative consumer feedback. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been through the experience three (soon four!) times myself–a lot of that intuitive insight from myself and other parents on the team is invaluable in the innovation and R&D process. We also work very closely with the OB/GYN and medical professional communities as our designers and engineers progress further in the development process.”
How else have you worked to change the cultural narrative around motherhood?
“Beyond creating products to help women navigate the physical transformation into motherhood, we work very diligently to shift cultural narratives around that storyline through content and advertising. One of the core insights that supported the launch of our feminine care brand Frida Mom was that preparation and knowledge create confidence, and confident women are generally happier. And happier women are better parents. Yes, motherhood is a cornerstone of their life journey and of society, yet there is an undeniable lack of candor and authenticity in storytelling because of outdated roadblocks or stigmas associated with conveying or portraying real human truths, especially for women’s health and feminine care. Women are so blindsided by the physical realities of postpartum recovery and breast feeding etc., and that’s in part because no brands have been able to address those realities in content or advertising due to a variety of outdated restrictions and network limitations. Our content lifts the veil on those realities. Most recently, the work we did with SI Swimsuit and networks like NBC are exemplary of how we can work together to continue to support that mission. We need platforms like yours—and while for some brands or businesses, breaking those boundaries is too intimidating, for us, it’s a barrier worth breaking.”
What work is left to be done when it comes to normalizing these conversations?
“As women emerge in greater numbers as business leaders, and there’s a corresponding heightened sensitivity in the boardroom, guardrails will break down and more authentic storytelling will emerge. That is our objective, and I’ve seen a seismic shift over the past three years since we’ve launched Frida Mom–which was really a watershed moment for women culturally. Women feel seen in a way they’ve never been seen before–and they’re playing that back to us, but our work doesn’t stop here. We’re committed to not only continue to make products that make parents’ lives easier but also to really overhaul the way the world understands and perceives the experiences women go through.”
What would you say to women who are adamant about following a birth plan?
“If it helps in the emotional preparation process, then plan away. That being said, it’s critically important to have a Plan B, Plan C and Plan D. I have not gone in to any of the previous three deliveries with a plan, per se—nor am I going into this fourth one with a plan, only because I know physicians and doulas/midwives have maternal health as their top priority—and so whatever it takes to prioritize that and the health of the baby is part my plan!”
Best advice for someone recovering from a C-section?
“Recovering from a C-section takes a major emotional and physical toll, especially if it wasn’t a planned operation. The adage around putting your oxygen mask on before helping others works perfectly here. You can’t care for the life you just brought into this world if you aren’t physically caring for yourself first.”
And any overall parenting advice for a new mom?
“Raising a human requires feeling like a human—and you can’t pour from an empty cup—so apart from arming yourself with the tools you need to address the physical pain of postpartum recovery journey, being cognizant of and prioritizing your physical and emotional limitations without guilt or shame is critical to any new mom’s recovery process.”