Having a baby is a transforming experience and sometimes new parents need all the help they can get.
That's according to Ann Woelfel and Maureen Kasdorf, two women behind the Wauwatosa business Nurturing the Nest. The company supports the transition to parenting by providing postpartum doulas to families in the greater Milwaukee area.
"We're very passionate about helping moms," said Woelfel, who added that help can include holding the baby while the new mother completes laundry or providing a shoulder to cry on when life seems overwhelming.
Sometimes, a new mother just needs someone to share her birth story with, which is a completely life-altering experience all on its own, Woelfel said.
"We just want them to know they're not alone," Kasdorf said of new parents, adding there is still a stigma about needing or wanting help in the ever-individualistic culture of the United States. Women who are top-ranking executives in their work life can suddenly be rendered helpless when faced with a screaming baby who won't calm down. And that's totally normal, she said.
Nurturing the Nest began in 2014 after Woelfel had given birth to her second child — a time she described as "manic" mode. She flung herself into a new business concept for a population she felt was under-served in the area. The company brought on its first clients in early 2015.
Woelfel and Kasdorf said for many pregnant women, the focus is all on them — from frequent visits to the doctor to general attention in public. But once they give birth, the focus turns to the baby even though the mother could still be in need of care.
About the doulas
The postpartum doulas have flexible hours and schedules, catering to the needs of the family and a planning meeting usually takes place beforehand. The doula can pick up groceries for the family, prepare lunch for older children, do laundry around the house while the parents take a nap or answer any questions the mother and father may have.
And it's not just an extra set of hands around the house that Nurturing the Nest can offer; the business also offers sleep coaching for children four months and older, said Kasdorf.
If a child is having a difficult time sleeping through the night, Kasdorf said she can offer tips for turning a nursery into a sleeping oasis.
Kasdorf was faced with her own sleep dilemma when her first baby was so difficult that neither she nor her daughter slept for the first six weeks. She finally turned to a doctor in Chicago for help, but was left feeling unsatisfied by the number of local options that didn't cost a fortune.
She turned to sleep coaching and now helps couples take control of their evenings again while the children are sound asleep.
"We are so worried about what we are putting into our babies' bodies in terms of food, that we don't realize good and healthy sleep is just as important," Woelfel said.
Kasdorf said she's worked with moms who haven't slept more than a few hours per night in years. After a few days of sleep coaching, the parents and baby are on a normal sleep schedule. And the support is continuous; Kasdorf said she will frequently check-in to see how things are progressing and whether the parents have any questions.
Further, a sleep coach can suggest the best books on sleep tips and the best products — like a clock that turns colors when it's time to get out of bed.
Woelfel and Kasdorf said they hope to someday create a philanthropic arm to the business by providing postpartum care to those who may not be able to afford the service or who don't have a strong support system in place.