Many first-time mothers say there are things they wish someone had told them about motherhood, but unfortunately that didn’t happen, and they had to learn on the job. As amazing as it is, becoming a parent, especially for the first time, has its challenge. Take 27-year-old Marie Chantal Umunyana, for example, who says she wishes she had a reliable and accurate guide to parenting, while going through matrescence—a physical, emotional, hormonal, and social transition to motherhood. Because of this, she decided to be the guide that pregnant women need, especially first-time mothers. Umunyana, then 24 years old, gave birth to her now three-year-old girl. She was not only young but also still in school. Umunyana is currently a finalising medical studies at University of Rwanda, while doing her final internship at King Faisal Hospital. At the time she got married, she was in her second year. “I was staying away from my mother so I couldn’t count on her infinitely,” she says, “Even though she was very helpful, especially after giving birth, where she stayed with me for a while. But before and after then I would be left alone with no guide to the complexity of motherhood.” According to the young mother, first-time mothers go through a ton of confusion with everyone offering their sometimes misleading advice. “First-time mothers are often overwhelmed with everyone’s opinion on what they should or should not do. Yet they also have a lot of questions because no one prepares you for it, especially in our society,” she says. Some people, she says, use Google or try to go by different advice which is not always valid because everyone’s experience, pregnancy and baby, is a unique one. “This may take a toll on the mother’s mental health and the baby on the way,” she notes. Most first-time mothers lack even basic information like antenatal care, for example, she says. “The idea came during lockdown when my heart went to mothers in total lockdown, far away from their own mothers, sisters or friends despite calls and the internet,” she says. Having gone through this first-hand, Umunyana, with the medical student advantage, decided to provide the guide she herself had wanted, to other mothers, “Umubyeyi Elevate”. Umunyana started sharing information on her WhatsApp status and a number of people picked interest, so she decided to do a survey. “Regardless of my own challenges, I wanted to hear from people, their questions, and so on. So I asked friends to share with friends,” she says. The survey confirmed Umunyana’s fears which made her and seven other medical colleagues launch the online platform, umubyeyi_rw, to provide maternity-related information. ‘Umubyeyi Elevate’ was officially registered in November 2020. It has since won the Young Resilient Fund 2021, shortlisted among 15 Africa Young Innovators for Health 2021, and was among three best women innovators winning an award and free mentorship. Umunyana also went to Israel as part of 20 impactful start-up founders. As Covid-19 subsidised, ‘Umubyeyi Elevate’ also thought of expanding to physical operations. The physical part for Umubyeyi Elevate is called ‘BeSpace’ located at Norrsken. At ‘BeSpace’, they don’t just focus on maternity health but on reproductive health as well. “We want to prepare the girl child from a young age to motherhood,” Umunyana explains. The sessions at ‘BeSpace’ are grouped into categories based on age. “If it’s a youthful session then we make sure that even invited experts are young to allow them to relate to each other, the same goes for other age groups as well,” she says. More than 400 mothers have been impacted so far through their online and physical spaces. Umunyana says that seeing mothers share their personal experiences in total trust confirms even more that this was indeed needed. “Sometimes they are so emotional, we end up crying or cracking jokes out of our problems,” she adds. As any other start-up, Umunyana affirms that finance challenges are not strange to them as well. “We are a social business which means we will charge people sometimes depending on the nature of an event but it will still be affordable for the majority of our target group.” The initiative’s aim is to avail maternity guidance and relevant information, especially to first-time mothers. “This information is very inclusive and could be important for fathers as well to be able to support their partners,” Umunyana says. “All support is welcome to optimise and avail the space to more people and often,” she adds.