St. Louis-area moms launch startups for pregnancy, postpartum needs


When Clayton’s Nikki Freiman gave birth to her first child six years ago, almost everything took her by surprise.

“You just don’t know what you don’t know,” says Freyman, now a mother of two. “There are ‘necessities’ that no one tells you,” she says.

But that is slowly changing. The flashy exterior of pregnancy and new parenting is slipping away as celebrity influencers, social media groups and baby product companies expose the raw reality beyond trendy maternity clothes and newborn suspicions. In the St. Louis area, several start-ups are filling market gaps with ergonomic breast pumps, specialty exercise studios, subscription boxes and journals.






The St. Louis-based company is launching new modern breast pumps compared to more traditional models of the past. Photo credit: Babyation


Breast pump overhaul

Samantha Rudolph was still childless in 2014 when a New York Times blog bemoaning the lack of innovation in breast pump technology came to her attention.

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“I didn’t even know what a breast pump was,” says Rudolph, a St. Louis native who lived in Connecticut with her husband Jared Miller. “It’s one of her ideas that has stuck in her head.”

She and Miller immersed themselves in research and sought input from their parents’ friends. The breast pump market is valued at her $1.8 billion globally and growing, but there is little incentive to innovate.

“It’s a captive audience,” says Rudolph. Over 80% of her newborn is breastfed. For most parents, a pump is her one-time purchase.

Engineer Miller worked on details like a better-fitting breast shield and a suction pressure that more closely mimics a baby’s suction pressure. The couple began applying for funds around the time they learned Rudolf was pregnant.

“I pitched myself 100 months pregnant,” she jokes about her 2015 $50,000 Arch Grant presentation.

But it worked. The couple, now with baby Exton, adopted Babyation and moved to Chesterfield.In the next seven years, they applied for more than 20 of her patents and had 4,500 customers on the waiting list. I made a list.

The first $499 Babyation pump was delivered in April.

For Rudolph, the startup wasn’t just about refreshing a design that hasn’t changed much since the 1950s. Giving women choices.

“You should be able to feed your baby whatever you want,” she says.







Exercise classes help you stay in shape during pregnancy

Abby Erker, who is expecting her first baby in April, teaches exercise classes for pregnant women at Materra Method in University City.


Christine Tanus


“Women support women”

For Abby Erker of Richmond Heights, fitness training was just a side hustle, but she found many of her clients asking for advice on working out during and after pregnancy.

Colleen Fitzsimmons Wibiot of St. Louis had a new baby boy almost two years ago when she met Aker at a pop-up class. Erker recently developed his Matera method, which combines bar, Pilates and therapy his exercises to strengthen the abs and pelvic floor muscles.

“I was looking for something different than before I had kids,” says Fitzsimmons-Wibiot.

Erker opened his place in University City last spring. She offers her group classes, her online workouts, and her one-on-one training.

For the first time in her life, Fitzsimmons-Wiviott began exercising regularly, going to the studio every Saturday and attending online sessions during the week, and continued throughout her second pregnancy. She welcomed her other son this fall.

Her consistency paid off. “There was a big difference in stamina,” she says. Her back didn’t hurt so much. Her joints feel better.

Erker, who is expecting his first child in April, believes the Materra community is as important to his health as his legs lift and his spine twists.

“You can feel the energy in this space,” Aker says. “Women support women.”

Webster Groves’ Mandie Tuhro wanted to get back to high-intensity cardio after having kids, now 3 and 1. But Matera changed her mind.

“I feel so much stronger,” Turro says. “And this is how I reset. It’s cheaper than therapy.”

magnesium oil and mocktails

When Courtney Klein’s best friend was pregnant a few years ago, she wanted to find the perfect gift to send her in Philadelphia. There was no

“I wanted to have something, not with the baby,” says Klein, who lives in Deperez.

A year later, Klein became pregnant. Each time she experiences new side effects such as stretching her marks, puffiness in her legs, and bloating, she’s fallen into the black her hole of the internet.

“There must be a better way,” she thought. “This can’t be just me.”

She’s created a one-stop shop for her vetted products, pulled from the mass market but still affordable: sitz bath spray that works upside down, magnesium oil to prevent cramps, antioxidants. A mocktail recipe book filled with substance. .

Klein officially launched Birth Order during the early months of the pandemic, a boom in online shopping. Subscription boxes came first, two for him each semester, and one for him postpartum. Soon, she expanded to over 50 a la carte her items, including nipple her creams, massage her rollers, and anti-nausea candies.







birth order box

One of the subscription gift boxes sold on Birthorder.


“I wanted a product that didn’t disrespect me when I was pregnant,” she says.

Affton’s Ryan Fanning and Jessica Seitz met Klein at an outdoor market last year shortly after learning Seitz was pregnant. As the months progressed, the birth order of first-time parents was used as a resource.

They also took childbirth and newborn classes, but “there wasn’t enough coverage of what happens to the body after the baby is born,” says Seitz.

Birth Order is made possible with mesh underwear, maternity pads, and ice packs.

Fanning was the one who did most of the shopping. “As a non-childbearing parent, it was nice to contribute,” he says.

Klein sources St. Louis products whenever possible, including Big Heart teas and supplements from the Forest and Meadow Herbal Shop.

sophisticated spreadsheets

Lauren Rehme Anderson met Klein through the St. Louis “mom community.” In time, the Birth Order came to carry her Anderson’s Tiny Tracker.

Tiny Tracker was born out of necessity. Anderson had never held a baby, much less two, before giving birth to his first pair five years ago.

‘How am I going to take care of these kids?’ she remembers thinking. “With a playbook, you can navigate the lives of these twins.”







small tracker

Tiny Tracker sample page.


First, it was a Kinko’s printed spreadsheet. When her friends came to see the boy, they asked her about it. Anderson trimmed the pages and bound them with an embossed linen cover, and inside the $46 Tiny Tracker is his CliffsNotes version of developmental stages and reminders, along with boxes for recording eating and sleeping habits. , sprinkled with advice and encouragement.

There are pockets for keepsakes and stickers to celebrate milestones, but they’re not Pinterest-worthy possessions.

“It sharpened my parenting intuition,” she says. “I can’t control other things, so I want something I can control.”

Tracker provided the anchor that Ladue’s Taylor McCurdy needed in the midst of life’s changes. In three years he gave birth to three babies, each of whom was hospitalized.

“I swear it kept me sane,” she says.

McCurdy tried the app, but found it too difficult. When the doctor asked if the baby was on medication, how much she ate, and when she slept, she was able to pull out the book, and the tracker somehow felt like her friend. Reliable. Helpful. Non-judgmental.

“Just take one day at a time,” I remind her.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch received over 200 entries for this year’s “Mom & Me” photo contest. Winners will be announced in print and online on Mother’s Day (May 8).





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