MommaArts Supports Mothers From Pre-Conception to Potty Training

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Longtime South Orange resident Kim Collins had known fellow doula and childbirth expert Deirdre McLary for more than a decade before the pair decided to marry their individual business models and bring their new venture, MommaArts, into the world this year.

Kim Collins and Deirdre McClary have started MommaArts.

Kim Collins and Deirdre McClary have started MommaArts.

Though McLary, an international board-certified lactation consultant, lives in Nyack, New York, the ladies’ mutual love for supporting women and their growing families from pre-conception through toddlerhood drew them into the same circles.

“We met through the birth world,” recalls Collins, “and we became friends. We gravitate toward the same aesthetic. We’re both the same age yet one of our strengths is that we were both early adopters of social media. So we were in the same groups on Facebook and I always agreed with or admired her messages. So you could say it was a marriage made in cyberspace.”

So when McLary reached out to Collins via Facebook in December of 2014 to talk about joining forces to offer expectant mothers and their families a unique and all-encompassing experience, the mom of three leapt at the opportunity.

McLary, also mother to three, says the timing was ideal as both are preparing their first-born children to leave the nest and head off to college this fall.

“Yes, we’re in the thick of parenting but we’d both started thinking, ‘What’s our next act?’” Collins says.

McLary recognized that because she and her colleague excel in different areas together they form the “perfect puzzle.”

Agenda-Free Support

One of the things that makes MommaArts so unique, the doulas agree, is that they come to each client and every scenario “agenda-free.” As they state on their website, “From Maplewood, New Jersey to New York City to Nyack, New York – we work in all local hospitals, birth centers and assist at midwife-attended home births. Drug-free or not, first baby or fourth, high or low risk, VBAC or elective cesarean, homebirth or ‘get me an epidural pronto’ … we support it all, and are comfortable with any choices that feel right to you.”Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 7.44.57 PM

“It’s not our birth,” explains McLary. “We listen and think, ‘What is this woman asking? How can I provide this and make this happen for her? What are her goals and how can I help her dreams unfold?’”

The pair says they’re not there to make medical decisions or create discord between people and care providers, but rather to offer support and serve as a ready resource to women at all stages of early motherhood.

“We want to work collaboratively and create a sense of harmony with your whole care team,” says Collins. “A lot of what we do is listen. Often I encounter somebody who thinks of themselves as an organic, holistic person and so they think they’re supposed to have one kind of birth but really in listening to them, they want something else. They need to be heard and validated.”

Many times women put pressure on themselves to have what they believe to be “the perfect birth experience” and, if for any number of reasons it doesn’t happen, they’re hard on themselves, Collins and McLary note. MommaArts strives to lend women the support they need to feel good and avoid judging themselves harshly if their expectations did not come to fruition.

“We want to create a setting you can thrive in,” says McLary. “We can provide education and choice awareness. Our biggest goal is to help everyone create their own ideal experience and honor the spirit of what they want to have happen even if complications arise.”

A Multitude of Resources Under One Umbrella 

Courtesy of Kim Collins.

Courtesy of Kim Collins.

In addition to birth doulas and lactation consultants, MommaArts also offers placenta encapsulation as well as support groups that include pregnancy, breastfeeding, and new momma circles focused on promoting growth and confidence among women. Covering everything from the path to conception to pelvic floor exercises, the team also strives to provide continuity of care by checking in on new moms via phone to answer any questions, lend an ear, or offer guidance and encouragement should any issues arise.

“If the baby blues are lasting longer than your standard couple of weeks, we have resources and a licensed social worker in the maternal mental health field. We’re nurturing, supportive, and protective,” says Collins. “It’s been proven that a weekly check-in call reduces the risk of post-partum depression.”

Knowing first-hand the challenges of that often-overwhelming “fourth trimester,” Collins and McLary are committed to making the post-partum transition seamless. The duo says that while relatives and friends are often eager to help out a new mom, many don’t know exactly what she needs or wants. That’s where they can step in and assist.

“It’s so important to build a community and allow them to do for you,” Collins says. “We can help figure out who’s going to be coming to your home. Who’s bringing dinner? Who’s doing the laundry? We’re making those connections that can support you going forward.”

A Wellspring of Information

Fittingly, MommaArts’ website launched on Mother’s Day and so far the response to Collins’ and McLary’s  “new baby” has been amazing. The vibrant and informative platform will serve as an ongoing resource, complete with videos and answers to standard questions that the pair routinely answers.

The concept of a one-stop shop for women and their families from pre-conception to potty training is being universally embraced, Collins and McLary agree, and not just by expectant mothers. Labor and delivery as well as post-partum nurses have been quick to tell the doulas how much they value the expertise they bring.

“They’ve said, ‘We think what you’re doing is so amazing. Let us teach classes with you,” says Collins.

“To take all of this knowledge, over 30 years between us, and put it into practice, we’re feeling really fulfilled and energized,” says McLary.


For more information, visit MommaArts’ website or call (917) 765-9405.

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