Local entrepreneurs launch businesses that serve a growing community of new moms and dads.By Noelle Barbosa | Photography by Derrick Zellmann
As a new mom, no book, blog or best friend could have truly prepared me for the whirlwind that is motherhood. I had endless questions about how my life would evolve with a newborn. Would I be a stay-at-home mom? Would I continue to write? Where would I find other new moms (like myself) looking for comfort, camaraderie or just a cup (or two) of coffee? Resources for new moms (and dads) are out there – just ask these South Shore entrepreneurs who are striving to make life a little smoother and less isolating for parents once they bring home baby.
Registered nurse-turned-entrepreneur Margaret Breen is bringing South Shore families together from pregnancy to preschool with her new business venture, Over The Moon ~ Parent & Child Enrichment Center. The Duxbury mother of three was leading a variety of mom and baby groups at another local health and fitness center, Mamas Move, when the business closed suddenly in October of 2016. Knowing how many local families utilized the facility, she jumped at the chance to preserve the resource.
Breen, who is also the founder of New Arrival Educators, LLC, a perinatal and early child development education company that serves the greater Boston area, was able to renegotiate the lease on the 5,000-square-foot Norwell facility and retain the existing instructors, many of whom she knew well from her many years in the industry.
Over the Moon offers a selection of new mom groups and enrichment classes for children, like music and art. Breen also partnered with Oh Baby! Fitness South Shore to develop a comprehensive fitness program for moms and infants.
“When you walk through the front door, you’re immediately greeted by our staff,” says Breen, whose team consists of several registered nurses and educators versed in prenatal, lactation, infant CPR, early parenting and early child development. The center features a cozy atrium where individuals socialize and exchange ideas between classes. Classrooms feature tranquil blue and cream walls and many have vibrant toys and games to stimulate curious minds.
Breen’s experience in the medical arena spans nearly three decades. She has worked as a staff nurse at Massachusetts General Hospital, South Shore Hospital and Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. She also served as a certified childbirth educator at South Shore Hospital. When the hospital outsourced its prenatal education programs to Isis Parenting in Hanover, Breen followed suit and took on the role of childbirth educator and early parenting instructor. In 2014, on the heels of the closure of Isis Parenting, Breen established New Arrival Educators. She hired 10 colleagues from Isis Parenting and the group began teaching classes in childbirth, newborn care, infant CPR and breastfeeding at hospitals in the Greater Boston area. Now, this close-knit group of educators has come full circle.
“Life with babies and toddlers can be wonderful, but also isolating and challenging at times,” explains Breen. “I love seeing parents and caregivers connecting and enjoying time with their little ones.” When asked for advice for new moms, she had this to say. “After the baby arrives, and when you’re feeling up to it, make plans to get out of the house every day,” says Breen. “Ask for help – it’s not a sign of weakness.”
Over The Moon ~ Parent & Child Enrichment Center
Natural parenting enthusiasts Palestina Baronas and Jocelyn Alberston met at a small business networking group in early 2015. Baronas was running Instinctive Parent, an e-commerce venture she started for baby carriers, and Alberston was working as a certified birth doula while operating Full Moon Diapers, a cloth diapering service she launched to serve South Shore and upper Cape families.
“I was a babywearer and couldn’t find resources on the South Shore,” says Baronas, who was a believer in the practice of wearing babies using a sling or another baby carrier. She traveled to clients’ homes to demo her products before going brick-and-mortar. “There wasn’t a place where you could walk in and learn how to use your carrier or wrap,” says Baronas.
In April of 2016, the budding entrepreneurs opened a combined venture and decided to keep the name Instinctive Parent. Their new Pembroke boutique sells a variety of baby carriers and also a large selection of natural baby products. Alberston also took the diaper-laundering services provided by Full Moon Diapers in-house, which gave her more control of the product.
“It was very organic how it all came together,” says Baronas. “We were often placed near one another at festivals and learned we had similar goals.” With a shared mission to enhancing the bond between parent and child while fostering a healthy relationship with nature, merging their businesses seemed to make sense.
Instinctive Parent offers consultation to parents with baby carriers. “All carriers come with a small learning curve,” explains Baronas. “We can help women overcome that, instead of them trying to figure out how their carrier works while also soothing a fussy baby.” The duo offers workshops on babywearing, cloth diapering and childbirth onsite. There’s even a convenient nook for nursing and diapering to ensure that customers feel welcome.
On March 18, the pair will host the Natural Infant and Child Expo at Hotel 1620 in Plymouth. Founded by Baronas, the trade show is in its second year and serves as a resource for natural and holistic living and parenting. “Living more instinctually simplifies your life, so you can focus on bonding with your baby,” says Baronas.
EARLY BIRD PARENTING AND NIGHT OWL NURSES
Fourteen years ago, Rebecca Wetzel met a soon-to be-mom of triplets who was seeking childcare. The pair formed an instant rapport and Wetzel was hired.
“We developed a trusting relationship,” says Wetzel, whose nurturing approach towards the newborns eventually led her to transition from providing daytime childcare a few hours per week to managing overnight care for the Hingham family. Wetzel went on to work with four other Hingham families who had newborn triplets. “I developed a good reputation in town and was creating a brand without even knowing it,” says Wetzel.
In the beginning, Wetzel’s business grew by word of mouth referrals, but the desire to grow and sustain her enterprise eventually paved a path to entrepreneurship. In April of 2013, this self-proclaimed nocturnal soul opened Night Owl Nurses.
Today, Wetzel’s boutique business retains five “night owls” who care for newborns in the evening while parents rest and recharge. Caregivers also help babies establish healthy sleep practices and develop a nighttime feeding routine.
“I strive to provide the area’s best overnight childcare,” explains Wetzel, whose clientele spans the Greater Boston area.
Wanting to broaden her areas of expertise, Wetzel became a certified lactation counselor (CLC), ICEA certified postpartum doula (ICPD) and certified child passenger safety technician (CPST). In April of 2016, she established Early Bird Parenting in hopes of creating a South Shore hub for new (and second-time) moms looking to build camaraderie through support groups and infant enrichment classes. “These groups take on a very organic feel and tone,” says Wetzel. Programs are led by an accredited staff at a cozy 800-square-foot suite in downtown Hingham. “Our group facilitators are passionate about their work and I love being a resource for moms, whether they have questions about breastfeeding, postpartum or a car seat.”
Night Owl Nurses:
Early Bird Parenting:
FITNESS BEFORE AND AFTER BABY
Fitness enthusiasts Katelyn Woodard and Kristen St. Amour grew up playing sports and have continued to incorporate exercise into their daily lives as adults. The owners of Oh Baby! Fitness South Shore teach five prenatal fitness classes: water aerobics, cardio, yoga, Pilates and a childbirth pushing workshop. Moms are invited to take the same classes (plus a stroller workout) with their new babies.
“We became interested in perinatal wellness during our first pregnancies,” says Woodard who along with St. Amour realized the South Shore was in desperate need of comprehensive fitness programs geared toward new and expectant moms.
Following the birth of her second child, Woodard discovered Oh Baby! Fitness and knew almost immediately that she wanted to open a South Shore branch. She partnered with St. Amour and their entrepreneurial journey began in July of 2013.
In addition to running their business, Woodard and St. Amour, who are both ACE certified group fitness instructors, teach fitness classes at Over The Moon tilde Parent & Child Enrichment Center in Norwell. Their classes include prenatal yoga, mom and baby yoga, and mom and baby fitness. “By combining forces, we’re able to offer new families the most well-rounded education and support on the South Shore,” explains Woodard.
Oh Baby! Fitness South Shore