Dr. Pinkey Patel (PharmD) sees pharmacists as critical front-line healthcare practitioners who answer complex questions for people battling health challenges. It is a community role she herself enjoys and has proudly embraced in her Oklahoma community for a decade. Today, however, she is innovating maternal healthcare in a unique way.
Growing up Indian in Oklahoma came with the challenges of hyphenated identity. When she lived in rural parts of the state, she was often the only Indian in her school or neighborhood. But with the encouragement of her family, she embraced her heritage and academic strengths in science and math and pursued a career in health.
She graduated with a doctorate in pharmacy in 2011. Since she also nurtured an interest in bodybuilding, she completed a certified personal trainer certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). After marrying and starting a family, she realized the physical and mental toll pregnancy, childbirth and tending to a child takes on a woman.
Straight Talk about Pregnancy and Childbirth
Patel has applied all of her physiology and medical insights, along with her own personal experiences into The SnapBack, TSB, an app and online tool to help women recover physically and mentally after childbirth.
“It’s incredible how far from yourself you can feel, initially, especially when 80% of women experience postpartum blues,” she said. “There really is strength in having a transparent community and resources. So many fall into the trap of searching the internet at 3 AM, only to find inconsistent and conflicting information.”
She launched the digital community for The SnapBack in April 2020, largely focusing on presenting exercise information for women recovering after childbirth. In September 2019, four weeks prior to delivering her own son, Patel launched the global app in 166 countries. It consists of feeding/bowel trackers, intuitive rehab program, OBGYN-reviewed articles and a forum for users to connect with more than 14,000 other women who have signed up. Patel feels she is only scratching the surface of the app’s potential.
“I feel like all that I’ve done has prepared me for this,” she said. “We’re developing an evidence-based, tech-backed foundation for a multi-pronged preconception, pregnancy and postpartum empire. I want to change this entire ecosystem that actually works for moms. In the future, TSB will be far more than just an app.”
Patel created safe and effective recovery routines that are often completely missed in our society. They are published on the app, which also includes trackers for such necessities as breastfeeding, exercise, feeding journals, and other reminder tools to help a mom get through a hectic day. But, it is the connection with other moms that really sets the tool apart, the entrepreneur says.
A woman can anonymously correspond with other women dealing with similar issues who may be in another country or in a neighboring state. The app will soon allow for the ability to connect with a partner, and others involved in the user’s life. And when it comes to guidance for exercises, the plans have been thoroughly reviewed by a physical therapist and OBGYN as well. The routines are tailored not just to postpartum women, in general, but factor in more specifics like the type of delivery (C-Section, vs 1st-4th degree tear) and other health and lifestyle issues.
As a clinical pharmacist, Patel brings a deeper understanding of physiology and metabolism, too. She says that some of the societal and medical views on how a woman should recover from giving birth are inaccurate.
“There’s a misconception that we should resume everything we were doing after just 6-8 weeks. That’s impossible. The body has changed immensely over the course of the last nine months,” she emphasized.
This problem perpetuates stigma that encourages new moms to take on more than they can handle.
“I feel there’s insane pressure on us to ‘do it all,’” Patel added. “The US has a lot of work to do in terms of maternal care. Providing accessible and affordable resources has always been one of my key motivators.”
Women also often think it is too late to regain control of their body, the pharmacist said. According to her, with the right rehabilitative program, it is very likely a woman can regain a lot of the bodily strength and physical control she had before pregnancy. The key is to implement practical reconnection techniques. This means that doing something under 15 minutes is key for busy moms. Some app users have signed up a year or more after childbirth, Patel noted. The message “it’s never too late” is one she wants women to hear loud and clear.
Learning the Business
Patel has self-funded The SnapBack while continuing her pharmacy work. She’s also a mom of two children and admits that the juggling act involved with being a parent, business owner, working pharmacist and spouse can be challenging.
She will be seeking VC funding in the near future so that the content can expand to cover everything from planning a pregnancy to conceiving, the pregnancy window itself, childbirth, and afterwards.
“Ultimately, I want moms to get all their resources in one place. Society thrives when women thrive. We need to help them.”