The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a digital app designed to equip melanated mamas with the tools to thrive and prioritize their wellbeing during their pregnancy and postpartum journeys.


Problem Statement  

How might we equip Black and Brown mothers with the education and resources to proactively navigate and thrive in their pregnancy/postpartum journeys and prioritize their wellbeing in order to reduce the risk of perinatal (formerly known as postpartum) depression (PPD)?

Problem Background  

Perinatal depression (PPD) is a significant risk for new mothers, with about 50% of cases undiagnosed. Black and Brown women are disproportionately affected, experiencing PPD up to 3x the rate of white women, with up to a 280% increase in the last decade. They are also 3x more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes and experience traumatic births. Contributing factors include the underrepresentation of Black/Brown OBGYNs (10%) and implicit bias in healthcare. Traditional mental health approaches, often reactive, leave mothers without proactive support. Current interventions, such as PPD surveys given during brief prenatal appointments, are limited in effectiveness due to various factors, including provider caseloads and cultural sensitivity.

Research Insights

User Pain Points

Through in-depth qualitative interviews (8) and a survey (7) with 8 Black/Brown mothers, we discovered the following pain points: 

  • Isolation and lack of emotional support: Despite having family/friends available, mothers felt unsupported due to limited awareness and time constraints for seeking resources (therapy, mom groups).
  • Lack of validation and feeling unheard: Mothers felt physically cared for but emotionally unheard by healthcare providers, hindering communication about struggles.
  • Lack of culturally relevant resources: Anxiety stemmed from navigating motherhood alongside other responsibilities, compounded by fears related to Black maternal health disparities.
  • Need for accessible education and personalized resources: No healthcare provider directly discussed PPD beyond providing the diagnostic survey.

Supporting Data

Market Research

  • A competitive market analysis of existing apps/tools (pregnancy/postpartum, parenting, mental health, Black/Brown moms) found a lack of solutions that specifically focus on addressing/preventing PPD and limited cultural sensitivity. 
  • PPD organizations: research, diagnostic, or support. None provided a holistic preventative approach.


Our preliminary user research to validate this problem with melanated mamas uncovered the following primary insights: 

  • Expecting mothers desired convenient access to resources and tools for their physical and emotional motherhood journey, yet felt overwhelmed by time constraints and uncertainty about where to start. 
  • They sought proactive engagement and empowerment, valuing a sense of community for validation and understanding through shared experiences. 
  • Open discussion about struggles was uncommon until after personal experiences, hindering timely access to support/guidance on topics like mental health, birth plans, and navigating maternal healthcare as melanted mamas.

Landing on the Solution 

Based on our target users’ pain points, we knew we wanted to create a product guided by the following goal with the following features: 

  • Goal: To equip Black and Brown mothers with the knowledge and resources to proactively navigate pregnancy and postpartum, reducing the risk of PPD and fostering a thriving motherhood journey. some text
    • Help them feel equipped in their own early motherhood journey 
    • Learn the tools/language to advocate for themselves with providers
    • Reduce time/energy spent looking for education/resources
    • Help them feel seen through the resources/tools provided. 
  • Featuressome text
    • User Profile Creation: Personalized onboarding experience.
    • Mama Journey Roadmap for melanated mamas in their pregnancy and postpartum journeys.
    • Personalized Guide on home screen: Customizable for pregnancy or postpartum stage where you can add specific links or next steps along the way. 
    • Topic-Based Education/Resources: 
  • Mental Health/Perinatal Depression
  • Nutrition/Gestational Diabetes
  • Birth Plan Options
  • Additional Topics (Post-MVP)
  • Mama Journey Videos: Short videos providing relatable personal experiences
  • AI Search Integration (Gemini): Easy access to additional information on specific topics.

MVP (Minimum Viable Product):

  • Onboarding/walkthrough process
  • Complete section on Mental Health/PPD
  • Mama journey videos 
  • Personalized “My guide/Roadmap” page where you can save items directly

Future Enhancement Ideas:

  • Expansion of topic-based sections 
  • Repository of inspirations stories & videos from melanated mamas
  • Web browser extention where you can add to your “Guide” page
  • Integration of additional resourcessome text
    • Directories 
    • Community features (forums, support/chat groups: peer and mentor, Q&A)
  • Link to calendar 
  • Building habits to encourage returning usages: some text
    • Daily/weekly journaling, notification, potential integration with wearables for health tracking)
  • Explore partnerships with Black and Brown health influencers, healthcare providers, and maternal/women’s organizations to reach a wider audience through referrals 

User Flows/Mockups 

*This last mock-up above is representative of future enhancements & iterations of The Sanctuary rather than the MVP.

Future Steps

  • Continue to develop The Sanctuary by participating in: some text
    • The Full Stack Product Manager PRD to Tech Spec Convo w/an Engineer 5.20.24
    • Potentially participate in Bootcamp
  • Prepare to pursue/apply for my first PM rolesome text
    • Continue to build my content knowledge and experience
    • Search for organizations and positions that connect my expertise/background
    • Craft both a resume for open positions and a pitch document for orgs.


Product Manager Learnings:

Nina Walker

Co.Lab's Sprint felt like a natural progression of my lifelong journey in learning and advocacy. My diverse experiences, from education to UX research, have shaped me both personally and professionally. My expertise in qualitative research made it easy to dive deep into this sensitive problem space with ease, and my advocacy background makes user representation a top priority. I'm excited to learn the technical side of product management and collaborate with engineers/developers to round out my product, UX, and tech skills. This is just another way for me to advocate for users and I’m so excited to see all the ways I can partner to create social impact!

Designer Learnings:

Developer Learnings:

Developers Learnings:


Full Team Learning