Maya Steele is a certified midwife and holistic healthcare professional. She discovered HeraBEAT 2 years ago. Since then, she has been passionate about the company’s mission, vision, and technology. She has joined the team to support moms in their pregnancy journey and has helped develop the pregnancy care vision.
HeraBEAT: Tell me about yourself – how did you become a midwife?
MAYA: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the human body and the magical ways it evolves and functions. I knew I wanted to be a therapist from a young age, ideally one that integrates all layers of the human being. At 19, I was introduced to homeopathy, or the mind-body-soul connection, when I was looking for a method of therapy to study. I learned to think about sickness and health holistically. In other words, I think about a person’s health and wellness as a connected sum of countless parts. The memories and experiences our bodies and minds have, including birth, directly impact our health later on. The passion and drive brought on by my experience was strong enough for me to stop everything and begin a completely new career! Years passed and eventually, after being a mother of a 3 year old, I started nursing school to become a registered nurse (RN). In my 4th year, my younger daughter was born and I kept on going. I always knew I wanted to be a midwife. It was just a deep knowledge I had inside but I waited for my girls to grow a little before fully transitioning. I worked in an ER for 3 years, and several other fields. Then, when it was time, I went on to midwifery and after 2 years of study, started practicing right away.
For me, being a midwife is a calling. I feel so fortunate to be able to give so much of myself to the moms I work with daily. I do whatever I need to do to help them have the birth experiences they desire and to keep mom and baby safe at all costs.
HeraBEAT: That’s so wonderful to hear. It sounds like you’ve really found your passion and purpose. Is there anything about what you do that is frustrating to you or that you could improve in some way if given the opportunity?
MAYA: Stress during pregnancy is a natural thing, up to a certain point. There are many physical and emotional reasons for that. The stress about the baby’s vitality and wellness in the early weeks (12-24) is very high. Midwives take care of women who are beyond 23 weeks gestation. I think a device like HeraBEAT that can detect the fetal heartbeat earlier can give a lot of comfort to expecting moms. Since the healthcare system is quite limited in those areas, this calming can be very valuable for mom and for the baby too. Stress isn’t good for either of their health.
HeraBEAT: Fascinating. Thank you for sharing that. To that end, can you tell me about your personal experience with HeraBEAT?
MAYA: Yes. As a midwife and a mom, I knew more than the average pregnant woman, which is both a pro and a con. Haha. On one hand I had been trained to know what is ‘normal’ but I also have seen a lot of abnormal things happen. That’s a recipe for some wild thoughts. Especially in the earlier weeks, there is so much uncertainty. You can’t feel the baby’s movements yet, you might feel under the weather, tired, nauseous, etc. When I felt overwhelmed by those emotions or got worried, I just wanted something to reassure me. It’s around this time that I started using HeraBEAT myself.
Although I knew using the HeraBEAT was not replacing any medical examination or visits, the second I heard the sound of my baby’s heart beat, my breath got deeper and wider. I experienced calmness. That feeling is worth everything.
As the pregnancy progressed and I could feel the baby’s movements, I felt more confident and reassured. There were some days I wasn’t sure how much I felt my baby, especially on days when I was busier. This is completely normal but still, on those weaker hours or days, it was always so comforting to hear my baby, and enjoy that little moment of peace of mind.
HeraBEAT: I’m so glad to hear that’s been your experience. From a medical perspective, would you mind talking about the device itself, it’s safety, etc?
MAYA: Of course. That’s the first research I did before I tried it. The device’s ultrasound wave technology has been used in OB GYN medicine for more than 40 years. It is known to be safe for pregnant women and babies in utero, especially in the low levels used by HeraBEAT. It is considered a professional grade medical device, has international gold standard medical certificates, and has been both developed and approved by doctors.
HeraBEAT: As a midwife, would you say it is important to keep an eye on your baby’s heartbeat?
MAYA: Starting at a certain point in pregnancy – yes. Care providers monitoring the baby’s heartbeat, especially in the third trimester, is part of a medical routine that tracks the baby’s health and wellbeing. Before that time, it’s incredibly reassuring, connecting, and fun to hear your baby’s heartbeat for a minute from time to time. It can be hard to feel calm between doctor’s visits that are often a month apart, so using HeraBEAT to check for that bum bum between those times can be really amazing.
HeraBEAT: How would you describe your experience with HeraBEAT?
MAYA: It’s truly been wonderful. The experience was smooth and comfortable. HeraBEAT measures the fetal heartbeat through the mother’s belly – it’s external and smoothly used on the skin. No pain or inconvenience. The technology uses ultrasound wave technology to measure the baby’s heartbeat and infrared to capture the mother’s pulse. In other dopplers on the market, these can often be confused for one another leading to inaccurate readings so this really is something new and special. All you do is place the device on your belly with some gel, open the app, and let it be your guide to finding your baby’s heartbeat.
HeraBEAT: Hospital fetal heart rate monitors have professionals working the machines – is HeraBEAT easy to use?
MAYA: HeraBEAT is designed for home use and is both accurate and incredibly intuitive. It comes with an app that guides mom to find the baby’s heartbeat. The difference here, unlike other ‘dopplers’ you see in the market, is that HeraBEAT can detect moms’ heart rate, baby’s heart rate, and separate them from one another. The device has been tested to be accurate and trustworthy for home use. While it doesn’t require any medical training to use, it’s important to note that the measurement cannot replace a medical check up.
HeraBEAT: You’ve seen many types of mothers, pregnancies, and births. Are there specific types of women that would benefit from using HeraBEAT?
MAYA: I would say HeraBEAT is suitable for many moms to be. As of right now, as you know, it is designed to be used from week 12 on – it tends to be easier to find the baby’s heartbeat after that time. It is not currently not designed for use multiples, so singletons only. Otherwise, as it’s non invasive, easy to use, and is all about giving moms connection and peace of mind, it would be a wonderful addition to many pregnancies. I look forward to a time where care providers use something like this as part of their standard care. Imagine a world where we’re consistently gathering data non invasively. Imagine the issues and complications we might be able to more proactively address. I don’t think we’re too far away from this.
HeraBEAT: As a midwife, what do you think are the benefits of using a doppler at home?
MAYA: There are several reasons I can think of to measure your baby’s heartbeat from home. The most basic reason is the mother’s peace of mind. Having a reliable device like a HeraBEAT at home is an amazing way for moms to listen to their babies. It’s a relief to be able to check and it’s approachable and easy to use.
Second, the world is moving faster than ever toward remote monitoring and testing from home. That has been exponentially amplified with COVID-19. Some expectant mothers have not been able to hear their baby’s heartbeats because of telemedicine visits that have not had access to this device. HeraBEAT changes that and solves a huge problem we’re having now specifically… but it also encourages us to question the way we’ve been caring for pregnant mothers up until now. Can we use technology to evolve this care model for providers or care and for moms to me? I think so.
Therefore, to answer your question, there are many benefits to remote patient monitoring like this. By using a connected device like HeraBEAT, we can empower women. They can , under the supervised care of providers of course, manage their own pregnancies in their own time in their own private space.
HeraBEAT: This has been so helpful. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
MAYA: I’m just so excited that technology is starting to really gain traction in this space. This is such a beautiful time of a woman’s life but it doesn’t come without stress, anxiety, and complexity. Anything we can do to make this journey for moms better – we should. To be empowered and confident in your own pregnancy and not passive about it has been a game changer both for me and the moms I work with. I wish this for all moms out there.