avatar Anna Gannon Editorial Lead at Expectful
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Could Your Maternity and Postpartum Clothing Help You Feel Empowered?

Yoko Shimada thinks so.

During her work in Global Public Health, Yoko became passionate about maternal health. When she became a mother herself, and returned to work, she found that there was little acceptance or support for public breastfeeding and pumping at workplaces. In an effort to be apart of the mission to help support women through this transformational time – she started the maternity and postpartum clothing company – Mitera to help women feel confident, empowered and inspired throughout their journey.

In this episode we dive deeper into Yoko background, her personal motherhood journey and what sets her clothing company apart.

About Yoko Shimada

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A Global Public Health expert, an alumna of the World Bank and Clinton Foundation, Yoko Shimada is the founder of a NYC-based maternity and nursing wear brand, Mitera. Yoko has over 15 years’ experience in implementing health programs worldwide focused on Public-Private Partnerships, health systems and financing, and program monitoring and evaluation working with a wide variety of governments, private sector enterprises, NGOs, and major donors and foundations. Her work in 13 African countries, and many in South Asia, North America, and Europe has provided her with a truly global perspective.

Through her work in Global Public Health, Yoko became especially passionate about maternal and child health and a strong advocate for breastfeeding. Becoming a mother herself a little over 4 years ago made her passion that much more personal but she found breastfeeding and pumping physically and emotionally challenging, especially as a working mother. The pregnancy and postpartum periods of women’s lives are often the most special times- but they aren’t easy. While mothers are told “breast is best,” and they are encouraged to do their “best” by breastfeeding their babies, there is little acceptance or support for public breastfeeding and pumping at workplaces after mothers return to work. Issues surrounding motherhood are complex and increasingly politicized but Yoko believes women, regardless of their personal choices as mothers, need to be supported. She felt there was huge gap between the societal expectations of mothers – ‘doing it all’ like superwomen at home and at work – and the systems and tools available to support them as they embark on and navigate through their motherhood journey. Maternity and postpartum wardrobe is one of those factors- it can either hinder or support women’s ability to successfully and happily transition into and navigate through motherhood. People often dismiss fashion as vanity but it actually has an important place in people’s lives not only as a means of self-expression but also as an important factor in instilling confidence and empowerment. This is where the story of Mitera began.

With her passion at the forefront, Yoko believes that fashion can inspire, enhance and transform the way we live and empower people, especially the women to be independent, inspired and confident. She is committed to improving and enriching people’s lives through design and through Mitera she hopes to celebrate and support modern mothers throughout their motherhood journey from pregnancy, nursing, going back to work, and beyond. Yoko continues to lead a busy life as a wife, mother of two and global public health expert who still makes the time to be a triathlete, wine lover, experimental chef, avid traveler, voracious reader, student of photography, and still finds time to be a designer with an innovative vision to make moms feel confident, empowered, stylish and chic. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is currently based in Dubai with her husband and two kids and commutes to New York, her second home (after her native home Japan).