Every year, more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the United States and an estimated 28,000 children will die before their first birthday. Even more shocking: the infant mortality rate in the U.S. is 6 in 1,000 live births, and is one of the highest among developed nations. In the African-American community those rates are even higher, regardless of income, education, or location. African American babies are 2.3 times as likely to die before their first birthdays, compared to their non-Hispanic white peers. African American mothers are over twice as likely, compared to non-Hispanic white mothers, to begin prenatal care later than recommended (in the 3rd trimester) or to not receive any prenatal care at all. These numbers speak to a major crisis and this crisis is extremely personal to me.
My mom was a single mom, who did a wonderful job raising me. However, I know she must have been overwhelmed during the first year of my life. I was a premature baby born two months early. For the entire first year of my existence, my body and health were weak and doctors repeatedly told my mother that it was possible I would not survive. Several decades later, when my mother and I discuss those dark beginning years, it has become very clear to us that if she had access to vital health and safety information on an ongoing basis, many of my birth complications could have been avoided. For this reason, helping single mothers and contributing to the well-being of their children has always been a deep desire and passion for me.
Taking care of a child is the most important job there is. While I like to think I keep myself pretty busy growing Feel Rich, the world's largest independent multicultural health, fitness, and beauty network, I know firsthand that no group of people has less time available than single mothers and new moms. When you're responsible for the health and well-being of someone else, it's easy to lose track of your own needs, let alone find the time to stay on top of the latest health information for your babies' well-being. For these women, a cell phone helps them multi-task better than the most accomplished businessman.
So when I learned about text4baby, I immediately knew Feel Rich had to partner with this innovative mobile service. Being a major techie, I saw the real value text4baby could bring into any mom's life, like a much needed life coach. This unique service (customized by due date or the baby's birthday) sends out three important tips per week, from prenatal care and nutrition tips, to breastfeeding and safe sleeping advice. Simple, yet informative data that takes a few seconds to read, but can improve your child's overall health and wellness.
Text4baby messages don't stop when babies are born; post-partum care is equally crucial. The tips keep coming and are relevant throughout a baby's first year of life. Even better, parents, family members, friends, and healthcare providers can all register for the service.
Because Feel Rich's mission is about remixing health messages and making them more personal and relatable, I decided to call up my friend Tyrese, and have us do something extra special. From November 14 to December 14, those who texted a special participant code to 511411 or signed up at text4baby online, were entered into a contest to win a conversation via Skype with R&B singer Tyrese; Tyrese and I would then write and produce a personalized lullaby for our Feel Rich Mom.
I am excited and proud to announce our winner, Meka. Tyrese and I had a wonderful conversation with her, and we learned all about her expectations and hopes for her soon-to-be-born daughter, Madison. We then created an incredibly special, personalized lullaby for Meka. You can view a video of it here. The joy of being able to create this for Meka and the genuine emotion she expressed made this entire partnership worth it. While the contest is over, we look to you to spread the word, and refer a friend. We want to make sure that, like Meka, every mother in the U.S. gets the support she needs to have a healthy, happy pregnancy. Together, we can be sure our children have a strong and healthy future.
Feel Rich's commitment to moms doesn't stop with texts. We also hosted a free baby shower in Houston with fitness guru and mom expert Crystal Wall (wife of Paul Wall) in early December at the House of Dereon. The event was a huge success! Check out a special video that was created following the event on Feel Rich's YouTube page.
Tyrese and I could not be more thrilled to be involved with text4baby and their founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, and we feel this campaign is just the beginning of our long journey in helping moms "feel rich".