“I volunteered my own f*cking vagina!”
Chelsea Hirschhorn , CEO of Fridababy and mother of three kids under six, proclaims this in the video campaign for her new brand, Frida Mom. The line exclusively offers post-partum recovery products for new mothers—products Hirschhorn developed over two years and tested herself during her third pregnancy. The line-up includes everything you could possibly need for the often-overlooked “fourth trimester” (the immediate weeks following birth): disposable underwear, perineal cooling pad liners, perineal healing foam, instant ice maxi pads, an upside-down peri bottle, and all of the above in easily packed to-go kits.
“It’s so intuitive for women, particularly as they become new parents, to put themselves second,” she tells ELLE.com. “I think culturally, it’s taboo to speak in anything other than magical, unicorn, butterfly experiences when you become a new mom. The reality is that it’s not all Instagram worthy, filtered moments that are beautiful and fun.”
Nope, the reality is childbirth causing a “rip to your butthole,” as Chrissy Teigen tweeted after the birth of her second child, Miles (that “rip” is also called a vaginal tear or perineal laceration). Reality is beloved mesh hospital underwear that, as Ali Wong said in her stand-up special Hard Knock Wife, resembles the mesh covering for pears at the grocery store. Reality is passing a clot the size of a jellyfish then “losing eight hours of my life that night wondering if I was hemorrhaging in some way,” as Hirschhorn recalls. It’s an anecdote she also shares in the campaign video, where she includes actual hospital footage of herself giving birth.
That kind of candor and humor—extending to everything from product descriptions to billboards—has made this launch feel both approachable and game-changing. One of the descriptions of the underwear is “mesh-free mess-free recovery wear that stretches even more than you have.” One of the billboards promoting the peri bottle read, “Trust us, your vagina will thank you.” Both were met with some hurdles. “We got rejected from so many cities and so many cities suggested we swap out words for vagina, like ‘down there,'” Hirschhorn says. “Those are the moments that set you back. That really doubled down the importance and the value of everything that we’re doing. No, it’s a vagina. That’s where the baby comes out and we’re not going to refer to it as ‘down there.'”
The billboards ended up being displayed across New York City. Meanwhile, Target, now one of Frida Mom’s “great partners” were at first “slightly concerned” about the cheeky nature of Frida Mom’s product descriptions. More examples include ice maxi pads “so magical you’ll feel like a ‘vagician'” and perineal healing foam that reduces swelling of the perineal area—”that’s from your vag to your tush, FYI.”
Hirschhorn ‘s goal is to take all the guesswork out of the healing process for women. The alternative has been “making 16 stops at seven different retail stores and four different aisles, Amazon Prime Now things in the middle of the night, and find, like, black market mesh underwear being sold on Ebay,” as she explains. As for why it’s taken this long to have as comprehensive of a one-stop shop for post-partum care, the founder thinks it’s thanks to a shift in attitude: women aren’t hush-hush about the raw, messy parts of pregnancy anymore thanks to social media and celebrities sharing their experiences.
“With the help of people like Chrissy Teigen, Ali Wong, and Amy Schumer, we are starting to surface the need to prioritize a woman’s experience above all else. In order to navigate new parenthood, you really have to have the confidence and feel physically like yourself to do it well,” she says. “I think it was a ripe time culturally…we’re really primed for right now.” Schumer—who once wrote on Instagram “Hospital underwear for life!” with a photo of herself walking outside in a pair—is a supporter of the brand and attended the launch.
In Hirschhorn’s experience, women “block out” the “raw and gruesome” parts post-birth. “There’s a raw component to parenthood that’s not fun to talk about. I think some women are fearful of scaring or intimidating other women who are about to navigate this for the first time…and for that reason women aren’t as forthcoming about the realities” she says.
Frida Mom—and the larger Fridababy company now made up of 60 employees with, collectively, 36 children under the age of five—aims to demystify postpartum care good. Hirschhorn says, “Hopefully, after a few months, or a year, however long it takes, no one will be wondering why didn’t anyone tell me this? because we will have so substantially changed the conversation and prepared other women for what to really expect.”