1) Dr Sarah, as someone who has worked closely with pregnant and new moms for over 15 years, tell us, what inspired you to open West End Mamas? Was there a need you saw that wasn’t being met?
After being in practice serving only the perinatal community for over 10 years, it became abundantly clear to me that we have lost the sense of “the village” in Toronto. Mamas were scrambling to find experienced healthcare practitioners to help them during pregnancy and in postpartum, but weren’t sure who to trust, and had to go all over the city to find them. Childcare during appointments was always a barrier, and there was a lack of a supportive community. West End Mamas was born out of the desire to fill that gap – to provide excellent perinatal healthcare to mamas in a supportive environment where we try to think of everything that a mama might need to make life easier.
2) What is the one main tip for new moms you would offer? I realize this may be hard to narrow down!
Ask for help. Be willing to accept help. Be ok with not being able to do everything on your own. Ok – that’s three pieces of advice, but it’s really all the same thing. Somehow, over the past few centuries, we’ve come to think that we should be parenting in isolation. That we should be capable of doing everything ourselves. But the reality is that this isn’t how parenting should work. We are not meant to do it all alone. We are meant to raise our kids in community and to have the support of others to help us navigate the wildness that is new motherhood. Motherhood is really, really hard, and we’re not meant to do it alone. Ask for help.
3) Many moms have shared with me personal stories of feeling pressured and shamed for struggling with new motherhood – especially postpartum anxiety and breastfeeding challenges. What are your thoughts on societal pressures facing new moms in 2017 today?
It’s hard to even know where to start with this one. I was convinced I knew everything about parenting – until I became one. “You do you” is really my new mantra. Some women can breastfeed easily. Some can’t. Some have babies that sleep. Some don’t. Some breeze through the postpartum phase, and some (like me), really, really, really struggle with it. However, there is no right or wrong. Seeing as how these little bundles of joy don’t come with instruction manuals, parenting is 99% intuition. I’m a firm believer in “educated, informed choice” is best. Not breast is best, or even fed is best. A mama that is educated on all of the available options so that she can choose what is best for her family will make the best decision for her and her family. If co-sleeping is working for you and your family, then co-sleep. If it works better for you to have a night nanny so that you can sleep and function, then that’s great. If you’re going a little nutty because you haven’t slept in weeks and your little bundle of “joy” is less joyous than you expected, understand that that’s ok. We don’t have to love it all, or even most of it. Sometimes just getting through the day is enough. The sooner we can all be honest about how hard it is to be a new mama, the better. I’m here to lead the charge, help women find their voices, and help them find their tribes so that they can be properly supported the way they are meant to be.