Maria Kitay of Angels’ Place and Christy Cozby of MAYA Organization met today to talk about the services that each organization offers to parents of young children. Both non-profits have an office in Swissvale and serve families in all of Allegheny county.
Angels’ Place provides free and low-cost quality child care for parents that are full-time students, as well as parents that work full-time and meet income requirements. If you are pregnant and wondering if you will be able to continue going to school or working once your baby is born, now is a great time to call Angels’ Place and find out if it’s a good option for you.
MAYA Organization provides free prenatal, Lamaze, and parenting classes, with the opportunity to earn baby items, clothing, and furniture. In addition, MAYA offers counseling, support groups and adoption services. Classes are held every day and you can call or stop by the day before to sign up.
Knowledge and support are two things that new parents really need. Pregnancy is an ideal time to begin gathering knowledge and forming a practical and emotional support network.
Angels’ Place. 2538 Woodstock Avenue. Swissvale, PA. 412-271-2229
MAYA Organization. 7451 Washington Avenue. Swissvale, PA. 412-945-7670 x102
We’d like you to get to know Emily Tokarczyk, one of our fabulous instructors here at MAYA Organization. Emily teaches MAYA prenatal classes at Highlands Family Center in Tarentum and in our Swissvale office. She also helps our office run smoothly. Here’s a little bit more about her:
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by justice, or lack thereof. I feel a drive or inspiration to care-take. I’m inspired by seeing others do good work in the world.
I love moms and babies. I love science and biology and having the experience of witnessing a transformational biological experience.
What’s the last book you read?
Tom Brown’s Wilderness Survival for Children. I read it to my kids. One of my kids is really interested in wilderness survival.
I’ve known Tomi for quite a while… since we were birth doulas together at the Birth Circle. Working at MAYA is a great opportunity to work with mothers and babies, teach prenatal classes, and work with other doulas.
Being the primary caregiver to a brand new, helpless human being requires a tremendous amount of emotional, mental, and physical energy. New moms give everything they’ve got, and they’ve already given everything they had to bring that baby into the world.
In order for the new family to have the best start, new mothers need to be mothered. When new moms have the experience of being taken care of, it is easier to have empathy for the experiences of their babies. When pregnant, laboring, and postpartum moms have their needs met by others, it is easier to meet the needs of their babies. But not all moms have friends and family around to take care of them. And even if they do, not all moms are comfortable asking for and receiving help.
If you’re pregnant and you don’t have friends and family available to help, there are many resources that you can get connected with. Finding a doula and a prenatal class is a good way to get started. MAYA is a great resource for this! Doulas and educators love to mother new moms. They are great listeners and are all about celebrating you, advocating for you, and empowering you. You want them in your corner while you are giving your new baby everything she needs.
The hard part can sometimes be asking for help or accepting help that is offered. Do you feel that you need to do it all yourself? Do you feel that you don’t want to bother people? Or do you doubt that others will come through for you? There are many different reasons that people find it hard to receive help from others. If this is the case, I have an experiment for you to try. For the next week, find one small thing each day that you can ask another person to help you with. It can be a really small thing. I’m curious to see what might happen.
Do you have a pregnant or postpartum friend or loved one that could use some support? Here are some ideas for ways you can celebrate and pamper her.
Mothering the pregnant mom
Emotional support during pregnancy can reduce her stress, lower her blood pressure, and raise her self-esteem!
- Back rubs!
- Make her healthy food.
- Go on walks with her.
- Enjoy a night in with her (if everyone else is going out for drinks in a smoky bar)
- Listen to her fears and worries without cheerleading or giving advice.
- Go with her to a prenatal appointment. Take notes and remind her to ask questions.
Mothering the laboring mom
A recent study found that women with continuous labor support had less incidence of anxiety, depression, and feeding problems. They were more likely to say that their relationship had improved since the birth and reported more satisfaction with their partner. Women with doulas were found to have an increase in positive perceptions of self and baby at six weeks. Think of the difference we would see in the emotional health of an entire generation of mothers, and the benefits their children would enjoy, if they all received continuous labor support!
- Stay focused on her, with a calm, confident presence.
- Hold her hand.
- Tell her she is beautiful, has been working really hard, and you love her.
- Give her water and nourishment.
- Lip balm!
- Ina May Gaskin famously said, “If a woman in labor doesn’t look like a goddess, someone’s not treating her right.” So just ask yourself, “how would I treat a goddess?”
Mothering the postpartum mom
The new mom’s life can feel like a completely different realm than that of other people. Make sure she knows that she is still important to you and that you value and respect her hard work by helping her out and spending time with her.
- Ask her how she’s doing. Accept all her feelings.
- Tell her she is doing a great job. Also, she is beautiful, has been working REALLY hard, and you love her.
- Prepare food for her.
- Keep her “nursing station” stocked with water, snacks, burp rags, and anything she might want to have on hand should she end up spending hours at a time there.
- Spend time with her, with no expectations. Let her follow her baby’s lead.
- Clean up without asking.
- Spend time with her older kids.
- Walk her dog.
- Don’t be afraid to call. She’ll turn off the ringer if she doesn’t want to be disturbed.
- Ask questions. Listen. No unsolicited advice, please.
- Invite her on baby-friendly outings. Be patient, babies have their own schedules.
- Invite her to join peer-support groups.
Remember, the smallest thing can really turn someone’s day around. I will never forget a friend of mine telling me what brightened her day during a rough postpartum time. She had managed to get herself and her baby out of the house for a short walk to get a cup of coffee, which was a major victory. Sleep-deprived, unshowered, and vulnerable, she ordered her coffee, and the young man behind the counter simply said, “Moms are awesome!”
Welcome Christy Cozby our new Program Coordinator from Salem, Oregon! She will be in charge of our prenatal education program for expectant parents and parents of children under one. Scroll down to learn more about her!
My husband and I wanted to live in a city where there are lots of things going on and all kinds of people living together and sharing public spaces. We want our kids to experience a different kind of environment. We visited Pittsburgh for the first time for Spring break of 2017. Everyone was so friendly and we thought the city was beautiful. One of the main reasons we decided to move was that we wanted our kids to know you can live your life however you want to. It might seem strange to other people, but if something feels right for you, you should do it.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the strength and wisdom that I see every day in women as they go through the challenges of becoming parents.
Why Birth Work/Counseling?
I love birth work because birth is a time to learn about yourself and stretch your limits. It can be the most challenging time in a woman’s life, but, with good support, amazing things can happen.
What’s the last book you read?
The Great Cosmic Mother, by Monica Sjoo. It is about ancient people and how women were the inventors of language, technology and culture and describes how women’s power and history was stolen, covered-up, re-branded or buried. But we know it is still alive inside of us!
I learned about MAYA over a year ago, during my first visit to Pittsburgh. Right away I knew that I wanted to work for this organization. Since becoming a birth and family support worker, I have wished there was a organization that offered the full spectrum of what new mothers need: parenting classes, birth classes, counseling, and birth support. And here it is! Since I’ve been here, I’ve been impressed by the way Tomilyn and all the staff are always ready to be supportive and welcoming to anyone that walks through the door.