“Is the baby sleeping through the night?”
“Are you nursing?”
“When are you having another?”
These are typical questions for new mothers – but some of the most important questions are often unasked: “What can I do to help?” Or: “When can I come over to hold the baby so you can shower?” These are the kinds of things you hear at RI New Moms Connection, a group founded by veteran moms Kathleen McGuian and Kristen Kardos.
RI New Moms Connection celebrated its 10-year anniversary in October at Knead Donuts on Elmgrove Avenue. The bakery was filled with moms and babies; for many, the party was a reunion. Some moms have moved away, while others have remained, keeping in touch with women they first met shortly after giving birth.
“We met as new moms and openly shared our challenges and supported one another,” said Kardos. “We realized there was a need in Rhode Island for a non-judgmental place where mamas could come together to share vulnerably their experiences and build community.”
“Twelve years ago, Kristen and I had each recently given birth to our first babies and, therefore, we intimately knew the challenges and vulnerabilities women face during the postpartum period,” added McGuian. “We each had received support from new moms’ groups and recognized how important the groups were for us, and [we] also recognized how little support is available for new moms. We wanted to help fill the void.”
Both women bring rich professional experience to the group: Kardos is a longtime educator and postpartum doula, trained by Doulas of North America (DONA). McGuian is a social worker and member of the Board of Directors for the Brown Play School. Groups get together for six- to eight-week cycles, and each group includes at least six mothers and babies. Infants range from newborns to 24-month-old toddlers. Connections does charge a fee to attend – from $96 to $128 per session – but Kardos and McGuian also provide scholarships and reduced rates for those who cannot afford the cost of a session.
“Our groups attract supportive, non-judgmental, compassionate, thoughtful, amazing women,” said McGuian, “and so I'm always excited to build relationships with each new group and to watch the relationships form among the mamas.”