Motherhood is amazing. And overwhelming. It’s basically a roller coaster ride that you will never, ever get off of. But here’s the great thing. In Chicagoland alone, there are hundreds of thousands of amazing moms who you can lean on to help you get through the ups and the downs. Even more amazing? There is not a shortage of phenomenal moms who run successful businesses that cater to new moms. Read on to learn about moms to know and how they are supporting moms (and dads, too) in Chicagoland:
Angela Lyonsmith, Gather
Gather is a community art studio and creativity focused playspace designed for children (birth to 8 years) and their caregivers to engage in meaningful, developmentally appropriate, and creative play together. Gather offers a range of classes for caregivers and children in the arts including music, yoga, storytelling, visual arts, etc. and special event programming.
For new and expectant moms, Gather offers a free weekly meet-up to newborn (0-9months) moms; “Milk & Cookies” a community breastfeeding clinic; “Mama Power Hour by Anya Tanyavutti” a mama support group meet up once a month; “Caregiver Resources” which ranges from baby massage to talks or Q & A with experts regarding infant cognitive development – to what to expect from your preschooler; and all of Gather’s regular programming & play at a discount for expectant moms and children under 9 months
Advice for a new mom: Establish and stay connected to other moms for both creating community and helping to inspire your own resilience in the face of the challenges and complexities of trying to raise wonderful humans. Be gentle with your faults and mistakes. Everyone makes them. It is how you address them that creates new opportunities for your children to learn and for you to grow as a person. Oh, and try to sleep while you can.
Beth Warrell Leistensnider, CatBird Baby
Catbird Baby designs baby carriers with modern parents in mind; a great fit for you, baby, and your lifestyle. Since Fall 2014 we also have a Chicago showroom/store where we can help parents one-on-one or in small groups and offer an intimate shopping and learning experience.
Catbird Baby is such a great resource for new and expecting moms because the highly trained and experienced staff can help moms find the baby carrier (or two) that will help them stay active while soothing baby. Spending 20 minutes face to face with a babywearing expert will help so much (and so much faster) than a Youtube video or online forum can!
Advice for a new mom: Other people can tell you about their experiences but you’ll quickly gain your own and find your groove. Try not to think too much about what other people are doing or what you think others expect.
Shawna Mertens, Birth Doula
Shawna Mertens is a Birth Doula in the Chicago area. She loves supporting expecting families on their journey into parenthood.
When asked how she supports moms, Shawna explains it is a true honor to work with new parents. As their doula, she provides informational, physical, and emotional support throughout the pregnancy, labor, and into the early postpartum period.
Advice for a new mom: Learn to trust yourself. Your intuition as a mother begins during pregnancy, as you prepare to welcome your baby into the world. You know your baby and your family best, and your intuition is a great guide as you begin to make decisions for your baby and your family. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to listen to yourself, that support goes a long way.
Melanie Schlacter and Christa Reed, Neighborhood Parents Network
As Executive Director and Assistant Executive Director, Melanie and Christa lead the monumentally resourceful non for profit organization dedicated to serving families in Chicagoland. NPN offers expectant parent programming with some of Chicago’s best speakers with topics that range from breastfeeding to childcare. Other events include expectant mom mingles for local moms to relax, get pampered and meet each other, and the fun continues once baby arrives. Many of NPN’s Mom and Baby groups meet for several years after the initial first three weeks.
Advice for a new mom: Revise your standards. You will be sleepless, your house will be messy, laundry will not be done. Sometimes the first few months of parenthood just making it through the day. Celebrate that.
Cassandra Hawkinson, Active Moms Club
Active Moms Club provides Chicago moms with prenatal and postnatal fitness classes they can bring their children to. Our exercise programs are specially designed to help you enjoy a healthy pregnancy and return to or enhance your pre-baby fitness level in a supportive, small group environment.
Cassandra helps women restore confidence in their bodies and self-esteem by safely building their strength from the inside out, in a small group environment. With over 12 years experience working with expecting and new moms, Cassandra knows that it is imperative to address a mom’s changing body with TLC.
Advice for a new mom: It’s important to remind new moms that their body just did something exceptional, and it may not respond the exact same way it did prior to pregnancy. Be kind to your body. Ease back into exercise. Do something every day for yourself, and that could be as simple as taking a 10 minute walk in fresh air.
Jessica Schwartz, Chicago Doorstep Spa
Chicago Doorstep Spa is a mobile business, bringing massage to your home or office so all you have to do is relax. Jessica is also a certified educator of infant massage and offer both private and group classes for families.
Jessica is a great resource because she loves working with both expecting and new moms, helping them find comfort and relief through massage therapy. Empowering new moms through teaching them how to massage their babies and the benefits that come with that is always such a joy!
Advice for a new mom: There are no mistakes in motherhood, only learning experiences…be kind and patient with yourself!
Lindsay Vandemotter, Bella Jackson Originals
Lindsay is a family photographer based in Mundelein. She specializes in newborn and family photography, creating and documenting stunning memories to last a lifetime.
Being the mother of three boys and having worked with many families over the last seven years, Lindsay has a vast knowledge of all things pregnancy and baby. There’s nothing she love more than chatting with new moms about sleeping, feeding and poop! And as a mom of energy filled boys, she knows how to gain your little one’s attention to capture the best photos and moments possible.
Advice for a new mom: Follow your gut, you were made for this miraculous job! Ignore the Internet and the majority of people trying to give you advice. Take deep breaths, relax and snuggle every moment you can, the laundry can wait.
New moms, take it from me. Chicagoland has so many great parenting resources and there are wonderful moms everywhere you look—your local library, coffee shop, park—the options are endless. So strike up a conversation and get ready to meet someone who will undoubtedly help you on your parenting journey.
Looking for a bit of inspiration on how motherhood has empowered business owners? Then be sure to check out some of the amazing mompreneurs in your area!
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