Angela Davis founded Keep ‘Em Cookin’ after her own experiences with pregnancy complications, bedrest, and premature birth because she didn’t want other moms to face the challenges of bedrest alone. Keep ‘Em Cookin’ is an educational organization that gives pregnant women the greatest opportunity to prevent preterm birth by providing them with current information on high-risk pregnancy and by connecting them with an online community of other women facing a difficult pregnancy. It’s also a thriving online community where moms dealing with complex pregnancies, the threat of premature birth, and the stress of bedrest can connect for support and advice. We had a chance to chat with Angela about her organization and her experiences. Our full Q&A is below.
1. Who are the mothers who reach out to you for support? How do they find you and what do they typically need most?
Women tend to find KeepEmCookin when they are searching online for information about their condition (such as a short cervix or an episode of preterm labor), and then they see we have an online community for emotional support as well. The relationships they build and the stories of success are what keep them coming back.
2A. What advice would you give a mom just beginning her bedrest journey?
There are feelings of frustration, sadness, sometimes anger, and often fear. Other high-risk moms and women who have been through it can understand that when very few others can. That’s why I encourage high-risk women to seek an online support group, like the ones you will find at KeepEmCookin.com, Sidelines.org and MarchOfDimes.com.
Also, a woman should be sure she has an OB or midwife she feels comfortable with. You will have more appointments and questions than other women, so you want to be sure you have solid relationship. If you aren’t seeing a maternal fetal medicine specialist, ask your healthcare provider if it makes sense to switch to one.
2B. What about a mom whose chances of delivering prematurely even with bedrest are high?
I encourage these women to stay optimistic, but that doesn’t mean ignoring what could happen next if they do deliver prematurely. All parents should select a pediatrician before their child is born, but this is even more important for the parent who will potentially have a preemie. Your child will likely need to see a neonatologist right after delivery, and it will be helpful to have a pediatrician lined up after the hospital stay who understands the different needs of preemies. Ask your OB for recommendations. A few other tips: Take a tour of the NICU to start to get familiar with it, and look into healthcare coverage for your child to learn what your medical benefits will be.
3. Do you continue to provide support after birth? If so what form does that support take?
Most of the time, moms are too busy with their newborns to stay in touch, but we do have women who send us updates, which I love. For the women I talk to who deliver prematurely, I refer them to the list of parent support organizations that was created by the Preemie Parent Alliance, found here: http://www.preemieparentalliance.org/member-directory/. I also recommend the Inspire Preemies Community at https://www.inspire.com/groups/preemie/. The parents there are extremely knowledgeable and they really understand the challenges of raising a preemie.
4. Why did you found Keep ’Em Cookin’?
At 24 weeks into my pregnancy with my son, I was at the hospital being treated for preterm labor. My first pregnancy had been complicated and I did a lot of research before getting pregnant again. I had read that a short cervix is the best predictor of a woman’s risk of preterm birth, so I asked for (or demanded, depending on your point of view) a transvaginal ultrasound. My cervix measured just 1.5 cm, so my doctor prescribed bed rest and progesterone.
I had spent 6 weeks on bed rest for my daughter due to preterm labor, so I absolutely dreaded what being stuck at home and limiting my activity for four months would be like. It was terrible. I often wished I had someone to talk to who understood how I felt on bed rest: helpless, isolated and scared. Fifteen weeks later, when my son arrived safely at 39 weeks and 3 days, I knew I wanted to create a place online where women experiencing high-risk pregnancies could connect with one another and cheer each other on. That’s when I created KeepEmCookin.com, a place for these women to meet.
In our community, women can get advice from each other, share their milestones as they keep cookin’ from week to week, vent if they need to, and then celebrate the birth of their babies!
I also have a Pinterest page with separate boards for activities for moms, activities for toddlers, and inspirational images (https://www.pinterest.com/keepemcookin/). On Twitter I post updates about some of our moms (https://twitter.com/KeepEmCookin).
5. Where do you see the organization in 5 years?
I sincerely hope the website will be available to high-risk moms for years to come. Finding advertising sponsors for the website has been difficult, so I fund the site personally, along with contributions from friends, family and a few KeepEmCookin “graduates.” I can’t imagine having a day when I don’t connect with these supermoms.