During her 20 years as a labour and delivery/postpartum nurse, doula, and childbirth educator, Joanne Ilaqua was constantly reminded of the fear and insecurity new moms experienced. It happened as they were leaving the hospital with their newborns and Joanne saw it often during follow-up visits.
She knew that these moms usually felt better after talking through their challenges, and she wanted to find a way to help — so, she started visioning an online community that would eventually become the “Mamasoup” app.
When she first retired from nursing, Joanne considered building a website that would act as a resource for moms but that idea just wasn’t practical. Moms were more likely to look to social media for support on a phone than they were to sit in front of a computer. So, Joanne started thinking about building an app.
But then, while the idea was still in its infancy, Joanne’s life was interrupted by some heavy losses. This gave her the inspiration and the means to take the next step.
“My father-in-law died shortly after my mother-in-law,” Joanne explains. “And there is something about death that makes things more urgent. I felt a push to do this now.”
So, with a small inheritance from her father-in-law, she decided to launch Mamasoup, a free mobile app that lets moms connect to a community of peer support and caring wherever and whenever they need it.
“I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum as a mom,” Joanne says. “I’ve been a poor single mom and I’ve been a married mom with resources. I believe that all moms deserve support no matter what their financial status is and I believe the best support comes from other moms.”
And that’s how the free app works. Moms can download it from the Apple App Store or Google Play, they enter in their location and then they are connected in an anonymous way with other moms. They can post questions, share advice, watch threads unfold or share local events.
Through the app, moms can collaborate, they can ask for support, and they can empathize with the experiences of their peers.
It’s about sharing success and lightening the load when it all feels like things are too heavy to manage alone — which is exactly what Joanne always wanted to do for moms who were struggling.
The shared experience and wisdom of moms creates the perfect ingredient list for surviving the tough parts of coping with kids. Joanne is enjoying the collaboration and the growth of this virtual “soup” that she dreamed up.
“It is just the coolest watching people connect,” Joanne says. “They are talking about parenting, miscarriage, infertility, even Netflix and it’s boosting their confidence to know they have community and that they’re not alone.”
The app lets users send private messages and is supporting the development of real-life relationships, online or in person, for moms who might never have met otherwise.
“It’s so important for moms to hear that they’re not alone,” Joanne says.
She also notes that, for moms who are experiencing postpartum depression, peer support is a crucial part of recovery.
But the app is not just for new moms. Moms of kids of all ages and stages are welcome. There’s room to discuss how to manage newborns as well as opportunities to share the challenge of parenting teens.
With the free app launched, Joanne is hoping that more and more moms will connect to get the most support possible as they move through the wild ride of motherhood.
She’s also feeling great about achieving her goal of making motherhood more manageable for moms wherever and whenever they need some support, help or some cheerleading.