IHB member Ana Rodney has been a tireless advocate for mothers of color in Baltimore. A doula, author, yoga master, Reiki instructor and mother, Ana founded the Rising Mama brand and the postpartum doula program MOMCares. She is also community organizer for B’More for Healthy Babies.
Recently, Ana became one of Open Society Institute Baltimore’s ten 2019 Community Fellows! Each fellow receives $60,000 over 18 months for their initiatives. We can’t wait to see what Ana does with this opportunity to grow and scale MOMCares.
Ana nearly lost her life giving birth to her son Aiden. Having been a doula for nine years before her pregnancy, she knew that she was not being given the treatment she needed.
“There were certain things I expected from the medical community that I didn’t get. Choices that I knew I had that no one let me know I had,” she says.
Around the time of Aiden’s birth, Ana’s older sister also passed away after giving birth due to a minor complication with her gallbladder that developed during her pregnancy.
African American women are about three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. All too often, these deaths are preventable. Factors like better health care, communication, support from doctors, and access to stable housing and transportation can all make the difference between life and death.
Shortly after her pregnancy, Ana began building MOMCares — a postpartum doula program that offers self-care workshops to mothers of color, with a focus on black mothers.
“This is a deeply personal issue for me that keeps me moving forward,” Ana says. “This is something that I needed as part of my life’s work and part of my life’s purpose, which is to #correctthecrisis.”
Before Ana became a member of Impact Hub in 2017, MOMCares was a one-woman operation. Her headquarters were at home, and she did all of her work on her laptop using Wi-Fi from her phone. Funding came primarily from the little personal savings she had. Now she has a small but growing team: 10 active volunteers and a volunteer coordinator, a research associate, a program manager, a childcare consultant, and two interns. The team has become self-sufficient to the point where Ana can work full-time at B’More for Healthy Babies as its community organizer. She says that taking on another job compelled her to share the load of MOMCares.
“I had to recognize that there are people who want to do the work with me that want to support the work that are just as capable and invested in the work as I am,” she says. “Becoming part of a team has allowed me to step fully into my Executive Director role.”
Through Impact Hub, Ana made many of her most transformative connections. She’s hosted healing circles for mothers all over the city, some of whom she continues to support to this day. While hosting a Skillshare on black women and the superwoman complex in February 2018, she met someone who invited her to join the Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition, connecting her with other medical professionals and birth workers across the state. Ana was also chosen for Impact Hub’s inaugural Courageous cohort, which she says widened her circle of creative and innovative entrepreneurs.
“I don’t know whether those types of interactions would have been as easily accessible had I not been connected to Impact Hub,” she says. “Impact Hub connects me to colleagues, it connects me to other thought partners and potential program partners…to a portion of the public that may not think or feel like they had access before. Those are the types of relationships that MOMCares thrives off of.”