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Updated on December 04, 2023
Published on November 13, 2023
“There would be no Ready Set Push without Zoom,” Kiana Ayers said.
Through her nonprofit, Ready Set Push, she runs virtual prenatal classes and support groups while still working as a registered nurse on the side. “The ease of the Zoom platform and the way that I can access it, no matter where I am, has made it possible to continue to keep this sustainable.”
To Kiana, continuing her work is literally a matter of life and death.
As an obstetrics nurse at a large Medicaid Company, she saw firsthand the challenges low-income Black families faced with prenatal care: If they couldn’t afford a class, or had no access to one in their neighborhood, their risk of preterm labor increased – and with it, infant and maternal mortality.
Without preparation and support, these families faced an uncertain, even terrifying, experience in the healthcare system. “[Mothers] were afraid to go to the hospital, because they were afraid they were gonna die,” Kiana said.
Kiana’s not the only one who has noticed this problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women have the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States — 69.9 per 100,000 live births for 2021, almost three times the rate for white women. Georgia, the state in which Kiana lives, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. Several factors may explain why, including poverty, a large rural population, and the disparities Black Americans face in the healthcare system.
Kiana has seen both the fear that mothers feel and the hunger they have for information. They want to learn how to navigate pregnancy and childbirth, but childbirth education is either non-existent or cost-prohibitive.
With Ready Set Push, Kiana aims to change that.
Ready Set Push offers childbirth classes on the three trimesters of pregnancy as well as on breastfeeding – all virtual. These classes cover nutrition, mental health, postpartum depression, and other challenges. They also touch on how to choose a pediatrician and help mothers navigate the healthcare system, giving them the knowledge and language to advocate for themselves. Through it all, there’s a support group, providing mothers with a safe space to ask questions and share their concerns.
In fact, community-building has turned out to be a huge part of Kiana’s work.
Ready Set Push runs diaper drives where mothers come for free diapers – a high expense for low-income families – and leave with baby items, CPR training, and a connection to the community online. The support of that community, Kiana said, could be life-changing, especially in the postpartum period.
She calls it their “village,” and she’s been amazed by how many families have given back to the community after their own births. “We’ve had families who receive services through us,” she said, “Now they in turn come and give us baby items, or they’re in the support group, and they support other families. It’s just this beautiful circle of us giving help and them giving help to others.”
Much of this beautiful circle happens online – and that’s been a deliberate choice.
Learn how Zoom Cares and the Zoom platform help nonprofits amplify their reach and serve others in need.
When she started her nonprofit, Kiana knew she would need a way to reach pregnant women and mothers, and Zoom was the obvious choice. “If it was that simple and user-friendly for me…” she said. “It would be that much easier for the clients that I was reaching out to.”
Easy access is key to Kiana’s work. With Zoom, she’s been able to run classes across Georgia, with clients in other states, and even in other countries, including Ghana. Families too far from childbirth classes now have access to quality free or affordable education – and on a platform that’s free, too.
But easy access also means being able to show up how you want and when you want.
Kiana cites the ability to choose whether you want your camera or sound on – or whether you prefer to be muted and communicate via chat. Babies may be sleeping or fussy, participants may be with other people or at work, or someone may simply be tired and prefer to be off-camera.
“We want people to feel like they can be who they want to be at the time,” she said. “I’ll talk and chat at the same time so that people can see and hear it. I’ll also ask questions, and then just verbally say you can respond in the chat.”
Zoom Team Chat plays a big role in Ready Set Push’s community. It connects families 24/7 to the support group, giving quick access to the “village” when someone has an important question – even in the middle of the night.
By recording childbirth classes, Ready Set Push also makes them available to families who aren’t able to join live sessions.
These features all have one thing in common: They make it easy for Kiana to reach families – and for families to reach out to each other.
“[Without Zoom] it would be impossible for us to connect with this many people,” Kiana said. “But it would also be impossible for me to do this and continue to work.”
Now Kiana is also looking at how Zoom analytics can provide her with insights into Ready Set Push’s growth and evolving needs.
Ready Set Push is growing.
From Kiana running everything herself, the nonprofit now has about 10 different people working on programming at any given time. Ready Set Push has expanded its reach via partnerships, too. Together with the Metro Atlanta Mother’s Milk Alliance, Ready Set Push works to improve access to screened donor human milk, while a partnership with the State of Georgia has allowed Kiana and her team to teach families about blood pressure and hypertension. Working with pediatricians, Ready Set Push provides lactation consultations for Medicaid families at doctors’ offices.
Throughout, Zoom has been a constant presence – including via Zoom Cares, which has supported the nonprofit’s growth with an in-kind product donation.
Kiana hopes to continue to expand the services Ready Set Push provides, eventually creating a one-stop solution for Black families for prenatal and postnatal education. That would strengthen the impact the nonprofit is already having on mothers during pregnancy and beyond.
“Maybe they come to us very apprehensive, or they don’t feel like they have the confidence or the know-how to reach their goals,” Kiana said. “And then we watch them, as time goes on, just blossom and grow as mothers, and be more confident in their abilities to feed their babies and be there for their babies. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
Watch this video to hear Kiana speak about her work and learn more about the power of Zoom Cares.