A Merseyside entrepreneur has developed a support package for employers to help their pregnant staff.
Emma Jarvis set up Dearbump in 2018 after difficult experiences in her own pregnancy and has now received funding to focus her offer on businesses and other organisations.
The original care packages, designed for individual families, include products and information for women from the start of pregnancy until six months after birth.
Dearbump now aims to support pregnant employees with a digital wellbeing service that carries out checks at several stages of pregnancy and parenthood, backed by fitness and nutrition plans.
The Innovation Agency, as part of the Health Matters programme in Liverpool City Region, is supporting Emma with commercial and marketing guidance. She has set a £300,000 crowdfunding target to back her corporate offer and has already raised £170,000.
She said that 54,000 pregnant women leave their employer every year, many because they feel they have lacked support.
This is a significant drain on resources – UK businesses spend up to £1.6bn every year in replacing new mothers who don’t return – damages companies’ reputations and makes them less attractive as prospective employers, as well as leading to unbalanced teams.
Emma said: “We’ll help businesses to attract and retain the best employees who will be able to balance parenthood and their careers.
“There’s a gap in the market for this kind of service: very often HR teams don’t know what kind of conversations to have with pregnant women and many working parents don’t ask for flexibility from employers because they fear it will reflect badly on them.
“With the right kind of support, employers will see improved mental and physical health in their staff and better performance.”
Dearbump has sold 6,000 boxes to parents since its launch, each featuring safe and organic luxury items. The boxes can be curated to reflect specific needs during each month of pregnancy and early parenthood, including sickness and breastfeeding.
Emma, who lives in Liverpool, has an MBA from the University of Liverpool, has worked as a software developer and in research, and is mum to two boys, Charlie, aged six, and two-year-old Jesse.
She aims to hire a psychological wellbeing practitioner to deliver support to pregnant women and new mothers as part of the Dearbump corporate offer.
She recently joined a small group, chosen from more than 400 applicants, to make a pitch to potential investors as part of the Eagle Labs Funding Readiness programme, run by Barclays bank.
The Innovation Agency will support Dearbump with guidance about sources of funding as well as introductions to key figures in the health and care system who may want to take up her corporate offer.
Andy Cairns, Commercial Manager for the Innovation Agency and Health Matters in the Liverpool City Region, said: “Dearbump filled a gap in the market when it appealed to individuals and their families and we’re confident it will do the same with the big employers.
“Emma’s offer is innovative and imaginative, and it meets an acute need, so we’re very pleased to support her.”