As a maternity photographer, I have met many wonderful women who work with pregnant women. This childbirth educator and business owner is a force serving New York City women and ensuring they have a healthy safe birth free of judgement.
Maternity photographer and Childbirth Educator team up!
1) Tell me about you, where you are from, family, etc. Please tell pregnant moms some of your important life philosophies and values.
I am originally from the Boston area, growing up first on the North Shore and then in Southern New Hampshire. I attended university in Boston and lived there for a number of years following my graduation before making the jump to New York City in my late 20s. My background was in Event Marketing and I worked for large investment bank as well as a stint for Bloomberg, working on the Democratic Convention.
I live on the UES with my husband of ten years and our amazing boy, Rourke who just turned eight last month! My husband was born in Korea, but was raised in Buenos Aires, my family is Greek and Irish, so we have a very fun mix of languages and traditions in our home! Family has always been wicked (sorry had to throw a “wicked” in as I am a Boston girl at heart) important to me and I am known as the family historian. I use to spend hours pouring over old photo albums as a kid. My Father’s family came through Ellis Island from Greece and were proud Greek American’s. My mom’s family is originally from Ireland. Both sides of my family believed in the American dream that if you worked hard good things would happen. I could not be more blessed to have grown up in such a loving family. I tease my husband that if it were up to me we would buy the two apartments next to us, one for his parents and one for my parents!
2) Tell me about your business, how you got started and why you were drawn to working with pregnant women and babies as a childbirth educator?
I am the founder and owner of City Births. We provide educational classes for new and expecting families. Our core group of classes is Childbirth Prep, Infant Care and Breastfeeding and Infant CPR and Safety. We have been slowly expanding our class offerings and now offer some really fun and unique classes such as Boot Camp for Dads, which is a class just for Dads, we have real breathing, moving, crying, peeing babies in the class, it is a hoot!
I was inspired to create City Births after taking my own childbirth class. I walked out of there with this feeling of self-doubt that if I didn’t make it through my delivery without an epidural, I somehow wasn’t going to be a good mother. I was 34-35 weeks pregnant at the time and had a lot of conflicting feelings, not only about how I birthed, but also about my care provide. The underlying message of my class was that I could not really trust my provider to be looking out for my best interest. I remember thinking that this is just an awful place for women to be at 35 weeks pregnant. I happened to be very lucky and trusted my care provider, but many moms were not as lucky. These women were walking into birth with feelings of doubt about the evil “epidural” and not feeling able to trust the advice of their care providers, which is just not a great place for a laboring mom to be.
I began speaking to more new moms through the not-for-profit I helped form in 2009, Bowery Babes, and discovered that many moms had similar experiences. I then decided to return to school to become certified as a Childbirth Educator and a Labor Support Companion. City Births was formed 2012 and we now have two locations in Manhattan. We help empower our families to make the choices that are best for them through the use of evidence-based research and how to work with their care providers to help them achieve a positive birth experience.
3) What do you feel passionate about?
I feel strongly that all moms receive unconditional supported, free from judgment. I see many moms feeling defeated because of something said by well-meaning people who have a tendency to place their own feelings on birth and raising a child onto others. I try to look at the big picture, to really understand what this particular women and her family want. I want to give each mom and her family the freedom to choose what is best for them.
4) Please feel free to add anything else here which could include something that has influenced you in your life, any wisdom that you wish to impart that maybe wasn’t included in the other questions.
I would love love love to get rid of MOMMY GUILT! Having a child is the hardest and most rewarding experience I have ever had, but no one tells you about the guilt and worry! You end up feeling guilty all the time, guilty you are not spending enough time with your baby, guilty you are smothering them! You can’t win.
This is why I hope to help new moms start off motherhood by feeling confident with their choices around birth. I would say 75% of the moms I see want to attempt a natural birth, meaning without an epidural. They draw up elaborate birth plans and when the big day comes and things go off course they feel defeated and take this to reflect on their ability to mother and the guilt starts.
When you educate a mom about their options, they can become active participants in their care and help them to determine what is right for them at that particular moment in labor. When a woman births with confidence in her choices then hopefully, the moment this “mother is born” she is free from guilt and full of awe at her power and strength. What a great way to start motherhood!