I want you to know about The New Mom Project

No matter how 'minimalist' your approach, babies need "stuff". For some families, obtaining that stuff is way more challenging and financially daunting than it is for others. I'm so grateful for Gwen Broda, who started The New Mom Project here in Toronto. I thought interviewing her might be a good way for you (and me!) to learn more about her work. Furthermore, I've invited The New Mom Project to have space at our conference next month, so our attendees can hear from Gwen in person, and get involved -- either as a donor, or a recipient it's the kind of help needed to adequately and safely welcome baby.

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How did you come up with the idea for the New Mom Project?
After having my third child, and not working enough hours in my pregnancy to qualify for Maternity Leave (for the second time), I was angry. As a student and a mother, I had fallen through the cracks with no safety net from society. I was grateful for my supportive family and friends, but I wondered: "How do people do this if they don't have the same family support I did?" After a Google search to see what services were available to families who needed extra help, I quickly realized there weren't any. 
At the same time, I read an article about the Finnish Maternity Care Package (aka the Baby Box), which is given to every expectant person in Finland and has made a huge impact on the health and wellness of their population. It made sense to me to bring that same idea to Toronto and create a type of package that would provide families with essential baby items like clothing, blankets and diapers.  The New Mom Project now supports about 50 expectant and new families every month by outfitting them the best we can thanks to the generosity of the community.   

How do families in need access your help?
The New Mom Project is a registered charity. We have a referral process that families need to use in order to qualify.  We support low income and at risk families, who are often newcomers, single parents, young moms, old moms -- everyone, really. We have made partnerships with most hospitals, midwifery clinics, community health centres, shelters and Toronto Public Health who all send in referrals for families they are working with.  The goal of NMP is to be a community resource that supports health care providers in their struggle to care holistically for their clients, and I think we are doing a great job at that so far. 

Can you tell us about a particularly rewarding experience since starting the NMP?
We are very happy to have a location now where moms can come for 5 visits and choose their own items.  I think it brings a level of dignity and empowerment to our clients. Recently, a new mom whose baby is due soon came for her last visit.  I have seen her throughout her pregnancy, and have been lucky to get to know her.  During her last visit, she spoke to us about organizing her items at home, and how much joy and happiness they bring.  She has not purchased anything for her new baby because we were able to support her. NMP was able to outfit her completely thanks to the generosity of our community, which lessens the financial impact having a new baby brings.  Beyond just the "stuff", we hope that receiving items from NMP impacts parents' confidence, and empowers them with the tools to be great parents.  Her gratitude and happiness makes us know we are doing a great job.

What are the best ways folks can contribute to the NMP both on conference day and beyond?
The best ways to help NMP at 4 Trimesters' fall conference and beyond is to stay connected with us through our social media, and spread the word about our services.  We gladly accept in-kind donations of baby items, diapers, wipes, toiletries, strollers and anything you found helpful for your own child.  Through monetary donations of $100 we are able to purchase new car seats for families so they can safely bring their baby home from the hospital. 

What's your dream for the future of the New Mom Project?
The future of NMP will reflect input from the parents who use our services.  Currently we have started accepting maternity clothing and we are beginning to provide educational programming based on prenatal and postnatal health, and I would love to see this expand and continue.  We endeavour to make our services more accessible to anyone who needs it. 

You can find the New Mom Project on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Tynan Rhea, doula, sex educator and counselor

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Name: Tynan Rhea
Workshop: Trimester 4 Stream: Pleasure after Kids

What's your go-to gift for a friend having a baby?
Sex-positive sex ed books for kids or body-positive puberty books for kids that are transgender and non-binary gender identity conscious. There is an amazing library of kids book on the Come As You Are website. I could thumb through those books for hours! Sometimes even I learn a thing or two, and I think about sex all the time. 

What's something that you think there's too much attention on the birth world?
When penetrative sex starts happening again. If you look at the scientific research on sexuality postpartum the vast majority are obsessed with when people start having penetrative sex again and whether or not it's painful. This is also reflected in the articles I read online and it's super disheartening: why aren't we talking about pleasure? Sex is so much more than penetration. Intimacy is so much more than sex. Relationships are more than just sex and intimacy. If sex isn't pleasurable, what's going on?

What's your best advice when it comes to sex postpartum?
Assuming you want to have sex (or want to want to again), finding the hotness in scheduled sex is a complete game changer. For a lot of folks that can sound like a lot of pressure, which is definitely not hot, but there's ways to work-up to it so that the anticipation of a sex date is exciting, not anxiety-provoking. Glenda Corwin described it best in her book Sexual Intimacy for Women: A guide for same-sex couples— when you first start dating someone, it might feel like you're having all kinds of spontaneous sex, but you're actually having loads of scheduled sex. You plan a date night, you think about it all week, you fantasize about what might happen, maybe you masturbate thinking about it, and then the day finally arrives and you've done all this foreplay leading up to it, and surprise, you have hot seemingly spontaneous sex. 

For postpartum folks it's not quite that simple. Breastfeeding, feeling touched out, sleep deprivation are all real and can definitely impact our energy for sex. But a lot of people think sex is spontaneous and now that they have a baby spontaneity goes out the window, ergo, sex goes out the window. If you want to have sex postpartum, this doesn't have to be the only story. 

If you don't want to have sex and you wish people would get off your back about it (literally?) that's a legitimate and valid choice too. If you have partners who want sex with you and you don't want it or vise versa, and you still want to stay together and make it work— that's something else entirely. My best advice for that scenario is finding a good sexual health counselor or couples therapist that is experienced in this area. 

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference?
I love getting talk with people in person, I love talking about sex, and I love hearing people's stories about their personal journeys. I feel so privileged to be able to do the kind of work I do, and it's truly an honour that people would invite me into their lives during such a difficult time with such a loaded topic. I don't take that lightly, but I'm comfortable sitting in discomfort because I believe in the places it can take us. 

To attend Tynan's T4 workshop on October 28, sign up for the conference here

Green Beaver: the real deal

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II first learned of the Green Beaver Company in the early 2000s when I was working as a grocery clerk at a health food co-op here in Toronto, and some of their products came into the store. "Cilantro toothpaste?" I thought as I was unpacking a box to stock the shelves. "What a weird thing." (Don't wait years to try this unconventional flavour like I did though, it's actually great!) What I noticed from the get go is that they were a local company (this side of the Ottawa River) and their products were reasonably priced (if you're familiar with natural body care products you know that quality stuff that doesn't cost a small fortune is rare!). Since then, their soaps, lip balms and kids bubble bath have become regular fixtures in my bathroom.

Green Beaver is a company that really puts their values into practice. Just take a look at their website. It's rich with information to educate their customers: an ingredients glossary is the most exciting to me (how many times have you looks at the contents of a body care product and been unsure of what half the words on there mean?). There are also articles on how to chose a good mineral sunscreen, and the effect body care products have on our ecosystem.

So the Green Beaver Company doesn't just want you to buy their products.
They want you to get why they do what they do, and how it serves the world. Imagine if more companies of their size, with their success, operated that way?


I feel really lucky to have Green Beaver supporting our conference, because they go above and beyond to educate their audience and that's something I aspire to do with 4 Trimesters, too. They'll have a table on October 28 at our conference at the Centre for Social Innovation, so not only can you check out their products if you haven't done so before, but you'll have the chance to ask them any questions you have about greening your body care.

Meet Kira Liss, birth doula and yoga instructor

Kira setting up for a Parent and Baby class at  Yoga Village , with my kid, Juniper (9 months).

Kira setting up for a Parent and Baby class at Yoga Village, with my kid, Juniper (9 months).

Name: Kira Liss
workshop: Trimester 2 stream: Movement in Pregnancy 

 

What's the thing about pregnancy and/or birth that amazes you the most?
It's hard to narrow down because I generally think that pregnancy and birth are pure magic. But it's the placenta amazes me the most. It's incredible that the body is able to grow a completely new organ to feed and nourish a growing baby. Like, how cool is that?! 

 

What's your favourite thing to snack on at a birth?
I bring dark chocolate covered almonds with me to every birth. A source of protein and good fats, and a sugar boost. Not to mention that chocolate makes everything better, right?

 

What's your go-to gift for a friend having a baby?
A Moby wrap! It's my personal favourite option for babywearing because it's soft for newborns, and it's one-size-fits-all.

 

What excites you the most about being a presenter at 4 Trimesters first conference? 
The amazing group of presenters! I've worked with a lot of these practitioners in a variety of settings and feel that there is so much amazing knowledge and experience in this group of people. As the first of what will hopefully be an annual conference, I'm thrilled by the presenters that Jae has chosen.

 

To Attend Kira's 4T workshop, sign up for the conference here.

I couldn't be more excited

Well, it looks like, after months of planning, this website is up.
Which means that 4 Trimesters perinatal conference is actually happening -- and in the not too distant future at that!

Perinatal conferences for professionals (midwives, doctors, nurses, doulas, social workers and the like) aren't that hard to find. They're offered through hospitals, professional associations, and other interested parties. A conference FOR NEW AND EXPECTANT PARENTS with a whopping 16 workshops to choose from offered by a range of local birth pros? That's something you don't hear about everyday.

I hope you can take some time to click your way around the site and find out what this unique offering is all about. It promises to be educational, empowering, enlightening, inspiring and fun. And once you realize there's no way you want to miss such an exciting event, go over to our registration page and then follow the link to purchase your ticket. But be sure to do so before our early bird sign-up, with its special rate closes on September 28.