Interviews with purpose-driven leaders who are dedicated to helping others and making a positive impact in the world.
June 8, 2021
Sonal Patel | NayaCare
TELL US, WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hi, my name is Sonal Patel. I am a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist as well as a breastfeeding specialist. I’m also the founder and owner of NayaCare. Our mission is to elevate postpartum care and help reduce postpartum depression.
HOW DID YOU GET HERE?
This all came about because of my personal journey. I have four children and by the time I delivered my last one, it really opened my eyes to what I did as a mom and my own recovery. I had breastfeeding struggles and I had postpartum depression. Within days of giving birth, I brought my child to a newborn pediatric appointment and realized if I needed help I had to go to them. I began wondering who in the medical system is putting that kind of pressure on these moms. Then I realized it’s the medical community. In other words, me.
I realized there had to be a better way. NayaCare was created as a one-stop-shop so moms can be at home healing with their newborn. We bring care to them at a time when some moms don’t even realize that they need it. We created a roadmap for postpartum care which starts with home visits. Our appointments are about an hour long and include breastfeeding sessions and pelvic physical therapy.
By doing this we’re validating that moms are important and their feelings are important. It’s putting the mom first. It’s also addressing the challenges as they come. It’s really hard to talk about postpartum depression two days after having a child, especially for a mother struggling with breastfeeding. Medically speaking, your hormones and your body are still recovering. It’s not always just classic depression, some moms just want to hear that it’s okay not to feel okay. They just want their feelings validated. We do a lot of handholding because then it’s a two-way conversation. At the end of the day, we want the same thing our mothers want: to make sure their infants are flourishing.
WHAT DO YOU STAND FOR? WHY IS THIS WORK IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I stand for the mom. I’m a pediatrician and a NICU doc. Infants are amazing and wonderful. But I stand for the health and foundation of my moms. The reason is that it goes into the bigger picture. For example, we have started to finally recognize the disparities in maternal mortality. Even one death of a mom has a ripple effect in the community.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
Quantifying the impact is looking at the individual patient and feedback that I get. Sometimes it’s not measurable. It could be a good review, or feeling like I’m on the right track. Then what’s measurable is if the business is growing and the word is getting out. It’s just trying to let people know that high-quality health care is available at home, positively impacting the mom as well as the baby and the whole family. We’re also working with a nonprofit to support 10 moms delivering in the month of May for a whole year. That’s a small way we can make an impact.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO DO THIS WORK?
I have to say, my children. If I had normal, wonderful deliveries and had been one of those fortunate women who bounce back after each one, I don’t think the holes in postpartum care would have been screaming at me. So, unfortunately, or fortunately, I had to go through those journeys thanks to my kids. As a result, I can relate to so many different issues that moms go through. The journeys thereafter inspire me to continue because I don’t want any mom to ever go through what I went through and all the struggles that I’ve had.
WHAT’S YOUR VISION, YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
I want this kind of system to be implemented with every delivery. I want every single mom to have the benefit of having at minimum one home appointment with a physician and even a lactation consultant. Ideally, it would be the first two months which would go hand-in-hand with paid family leave up to three months. But my vision is that with every single delivery, we create a system where every mom gets at least a minimum of two weeks of support at home, and hopefully more.
WHAT CHALLENGES ARE YOU FACING?
I want people to know about us. I want them to understand that when I say I’m bringing the clinic to the house, I’m actually bringing the clinic to the house. We literally bring a pediatric clinic on wheels and even do the blood work there. Once people discover what we’re doing, it becomes a ripple effect of referrals. Another challenge is making the program available nationally. I’m working with another physician who does something similar in Minnesota. We have taken upon the challenge to create a national nonprofit that should be launching in the fall. My vision is for all moms across the United States to have this kind of access.
WHAT’S ONE THING YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR CAUSE AND/OR THE WORK YOU’RE DOING?
If we look at it financially, investing in moms has a huge impact in our communities, cities, and national government. That’s one thing I would love people to start realizing. This is not a feel-good cause, it’s actually having financial economical impacts on the community-at-large.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE QUOTE OR WORDS OF INSPIRATION TO SHARE?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I realized I wanted a change because I suffered through something. I didn’t want any other mom going through the struggles I had. I created a company to address those changes that I wanted to see.
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Follow us on social media, get the word out. Come learn about us. Consider giving this as a gift to your pregnant friends. Do they really need that fifth or sixth pack of diapers, or should we invest in their health? Visit nayacare.org or follow us on Facebook.
At Orapin, we believe those who are working for the greater good should be known, supported, and celebrated. We give purpose-driven companies the resources and support they need to increase awareness of their work and bring more attention to their cause so they can expand their impact. If you would like to be featured in INSPIRED IMPACT™, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.