Black business owner asks for better healthcare, resources on Mother's Day

Most people will gift their mom a nice dinner, flowers, or a spa day, but Marsha Stephanson, owner of Cater to Mom, a subscription box service, wants better healthcare and support this Mother’s Day.

She’s going into her fourth year in business, making sure mothers have the resources they need following their baby’s birth.

Right now, Stephenson uses her home as the headquarters, juggling shipments, packing, and also motherhood to three kids including a newborn baby.

"19 years ago I was pregnant with my first baby," Stephenson remembers. She says it was just after 9/1. Stephenson was in the military faced with the uncertainty of what would come next.

"I went through just a moment where I didn’t understand why I was having these feelings, why I was sad all the time," Stephenson says. "I was afraid to talk to anybody, I was afraid of people judging me or feeling like, ‘oh my gosh, she’s a bad mom because she has these thoughts.’"

Stephanson says she was dismissed by doctors when she brought up her concerns.

"It wasn’t until years later that I realized I went through postpartum depression and didn’t even know it," Stephanson says.

It wasn't only postpartum mental health Stephanson struggled with, it was also care after her birth.

"I had my second child and that pregnancy went well, but after I had my son, I had a really bad postpartum recovery," Stephenson says. "So I went back to my doctor at my six-week check-up and he said, ‘oh you’ll be fine. Sometimes moms take a little bit longer to heal.’"

National statistics show black maternal health is a big problem. Research shows Black Americans are systematically undertreated for pain relative to their white counterparts.

"I said, ‘okay, this is not normal,’ and so I go back, and it turns out that I healed improperly. The doctor had did some type of incision during my delivery, but I had to go through a whole reconstructive like surgery and just to fix the problem," Stephanson said. "It was just like, I’m sitting here months in pain and the doctor was telling me, ‘oh you’re fine, you’re just taking a little bit longer to heal’ and it turned out it was really something wrong."

So out of the pain was birthed a different kind of baby, her business, Cater to Mom, with postpartum resources.

"[It includes] who to call if you’re experiencing postpartum depression, what books are out there about postpartum nutrition, what other information is out there as far as pelvic healthcare, and these things that moms aren’t told that are available to you," Stephenson describes.

Her first subscription box was made on November 16, 2018, it's grown but Stephanson isn't done.

"[I have plans] for finding commercial space where I can build my team, and we can have more space to work and also have a space where we can offer those postpartums groups and many workshops for moms and community groups," Stephenson says.

When asked what keeps her going, Stephenson says it’s her experience and frustration of not feeling supported or feeling like anyone wanted to help her.

The seed was planted 19 years ago, and she's now a mom of three on a mission to help all moms be seen.

"My goal is to change the narrative of postpartum care. [I want] for it to not be something that we don’t talk about. It needs to be talked about as much as we talk about pregnancy. Postpartum needs to be talked about as well," Stephenson says. "No mom should ever feel judged for feeling the way she does about her postpartum experience or looked down on, she should be supported regardless."