Food, exercises, routine checkups: How this startup aims to cater to maternity needs

I Love 9 Months, founded by Ganga Raj, Anjali Raj and Suma Ajith, offers services such as birth companions, expert forums, lactation pods.
Food, exercises, routine checkups: How this startup aims to cater to maternity needs
Food, exercises, routine checkups: How this startup aims to cater to maternity needs

Hyderabad’s T-Hub-based maternity startup, I Love 9 Months, has one goal -- to provide all the services a woman needs pre-natal, at the time of pregnancy and post-natal, which are often not clinical services. The startup offers birth companions, expert forums, lactation pods and more.

I Love 9 Months was founded by Ganga Raj, Anjali Raj and Suma Ajith, who were working in the maternity space in 2016. While the seed for the idea was sown when Anjali was in business school, the three realised that challenges and problems faced by pregnant women were all the same, no matter which strata of society they came from.

“There are so many problems that a pregnant woman faces, which are actually preventable, and no one was doing anything about this. We have excellent clinical systems in India where there is a remedy for everything. For gestational diabetes, we have medicines and treatment; but nobody talks about prevention. This is where I Love 9 Months comes in, specifically to give information to pregnant women,” Ganga tells TNM.

The app developed by the startup has trackers for a pregnant woman, which lets them track fetal movement, calculate the due date, gives information on nutrition, on pregnancy and helps them prepare for pregnancy and post-pregnancy. For post-pregnancy, the app has reminders for immunisation, child development milestones, what parents can do for them, etc.

It also has a paid question-and-answer forum, where every query is answered by a doctor or relevant expert in the field of the question being asked.

While they had all the tools at hand in terms of technology, they realised that human touch was the difference that was needed.

“We found that for women, there is not enough support after they leave the hospital, especially after delivery,” Ganga says.

The three entrepreneurs started the Sahodari services last November. “These women, who are called Sahodari (sister), go through intensive training and skill enhancement programmes. They go to the houses of the pregnant women and help them during the nine months, at birth and post birth. From food and exercises to medicines and scans -- they keep tabs on them and follow a standard protocol. There is data for this, and the customer signs off in the end. Tomorrow when the Sahodari visits the client next time, there is a record of her last visit and the routine followed then,” explains Ganga.

The start-up has now launched lactation pods in public places to help women breastfeed comfortably. Four pods have been installed at the Kochi metro, one at the Thrissur station, one with Corporation in Thrissur.

They have more orders as well. They cater to corporate offices as well, and set up pods that allow women not only to breastfeed, but it comes equipped with a fridge and pump, so women can take it back with them when they go home. One of these is currently set up at the Technopark, under the Kerala Startup Mission, which I Love 9 Months is a part of.

Sahodari, expert consult and the pods are all paid services that the maternity startup offers.

When it comes to the pod, Ganga says that some corporates opt to pay directly. “They can also pay us a certain amount every month. In Thiruvananthapuram, we have Sahodari services at the workplace as well,” Ganga says.

In the future, the company hopes to expand to Bengaluru and Hyderabad, and are talking to the Kerala government about taking their services to the block and panchayat level.

“In the long term, I Love 9 Months would like to see every woman have a birth companion; so we would like to tie up with all the hospitals and see that if there’s anything to do with pregnancy, it should be I Love 9 Months,” Ganga says.

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