Finding the best postpartum support– finding peer support

Finding the best postpartum support– finding peer support

by The Zencare Team

“Finding the best postpartum support” is a three-part interview series with therapists, group leaders, yoga teachers, lactation consultants, and other individuals who have deep expertise in the unique challenges faced by pregnant women and new mothers.  This second installment addresses the importance of finding peer support with Kaeli Sutton, massage therapist and founder of Open Circle, and Kathy McGuigan, co-founder of RI New Moms Connection.

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Kaeli Sutton, MTI is Director and Clinician at Open Circle, a center offering education, advocacy, and wellness services for pregnant moms. Having worked with over 2000 mothers and families over the past 12 years in multiple pregnancy and postpartum support modalities, she is passionate about supporting families through parenthood.

ZC: What are some common misconceptions parents have or surprising facts parents learn about pregnancy and the postpartum period when they come for educational classes?
Kaeli Sutton:
I find that parents seldom have an understanding of the profound ways in which having a baby will impact their lives — from changes in self-identity, to changes in relationships, to a near total reorganization of priorities and even worldview. American culture has little to no realistic discourses or practical supports set in place for new families. All too often, this time of enormous change and transition becomes seriously challenging and straining for families,  often breaking down health and connections. In my classes, parents are often surprised to learn about the changes coming their way, but also pleased to discover that with understanding and practical preparation, this time of enormous change can be both deeply fulfilling and support growth for each family member.

  Kaeli Sutton, Director of Open Circle

Kaeli Sutton, Director of Open Circle

ZC: What is one piece of advice you give all new mothers?
KS:  Though offered through many different modalities and methods at our center, I try to provide each mother (and partner) concrete supports to connect more deeply to their own experience and needs. I find that cultivating a space for non-judgmental mindfulness hugely supports parents’ ability to navigate all the change and growth in their lives, and, ultimately, helps them stay connected to themselves and bond more deeply with their baby. Perhaps the most powerful part of what Open Circle offers is a safe spaces of connection — where mothers and parents can support one another.

ZC: What is one piece of advice you give all new mothers?
KS:  Though offered through many different modalities and methods at our center, I try to provide each mother (and partner) concrete supports to connect more deeply to their own experience and needs. I find that cultivating a space for non-judgmental mindfulness hugely supports parents’ ability to navigate all the change and growth in their lives, and, ultimately, helps them stay connected to themselves and bond more deeply with their baby. Perhaps the most powerful part of what Open Circle offers is a safe spaces of connection — where mothers and parents can support one another.


Kathy McGuigan, LCSW is the co-founder of Rhode Island New Moms and  has been working with women and children for over 20 years. She is passionate about facilitating new mom and pregnancy support groups to advocate for women during their transition to motherhood.

ZC: What prompted you to start RI New Moms Connection?
Kathy McGuigan: 
As a social worker, I’ve provided services for women and children in a variety of settings including shelters, community health centers, and schools. The support I received during my pregnancy and as a new mother inspired my work with pregnant and parenting women. Facilitating New Mom and Pregnancy Support Groups combines my passion for motherhood with my professional skills and experience. The transition to motherhood is a very vulnerable time for women, and there is not much support available in the community. Therefore, we decided to create RI New Moms Connection to help fill that void and offer support to new moms.

ZC: What are some common challenges new moms face?
KM: 
Their little one is finally here…they waited nine long months for this arrival! But they wonder: Is it what they expected it to be? In some ways, it might be better, yet in others, more challenging. They may find it difficult to make time for themselves, suffer sleepless nights, struggle with feeding, feel isolated and unsure of their decision to return to work, experience a loss of identity, or worry that they may have postpartum depression.

 Kathy McGuigan, LCSW, co-founder of Rhode Island New Moms

Kathy McGuigan, LCSW, co-founder of Rhode Island New Moms

ZC: How can support groups help?
KM:
At one of our facilitated groups at RI New Moms Connection, moms will have the opportunity to discuss topics in a safe, supportive, non-judgmental environment. They’ll build a new community of friends – MOM friends – who can truly empathize with what they’re going through.  Each of our groups meets for 8 weeks, allowing new moms an opportunity to truly connect with one another and build a strong community.  Women are invited to laugh, cry, and share the frustrations and joys of motherhood with women who understand. Our facilitators are experienced professionals, who are also mothers and are able to share helpful information and resources.

ZC: What is one piece of advice you give all new mothers?
KS:  Though offered through many different modalities and methods at our center, I try to provide each mother (and partner) concrete supports to connect more deeply to their own experience and needs. I find that cultivating a space for non-judgmental mindfulness hugely supports parents’ ability to navigate all the change and growth in their lives, and, ultimately, helps them stay connected to themselves and bond more deeply with their baby. Perhaps the most powerful part of what Open Circle offers is a safe spaces of connection — where mothers and parents can support one another.