What the Media has said about In a Family Way...
she had delivered babies, Betsy Scherl, a former Obstetrician who
now practices health care law in Manhattan relied on a doula or
mother’s helper from Christine Kealy’s agency after
Nicholas’s birth. "I could hold a slippery 10 pound newborn
and start a resuscitation if a baby was having trouble," she
said," But I’d never had experience with bathing or diapering
a newborn." She said she was grateful to have her doula, Theo,
looking on when she was changing Nicholas’ bandage after his
She praised her doula’s cooking and said she
was thrilled to have her company when, the day after the January
blizzard, she trudged through two feet of snow for Nicolas’s
first doctor’s appointment.
"Even though I used to be
an Obstetrician," she said. "I just keep looking at this
little creature and thinking, ‘Oh, my God.’ I didn’t
anticipate how wiped out and disoriented I’d be."
Ford, an accomplished lawyer at an investment bank in New York City
felt confident she was ready for motherhood. " I figured, I’m
a professional. I handle crises all day; what was there to worry
about?" She soon learned. Her "panic attack" actually
began toward the end of her two day hospital stay when she realized
she’d be discharged in less than two hours without any real
knowledge of the most basic baby care. " I simply felt overwhelmed
by the enormity of it all," she admits. "I couldn’t
believe I was leaving the hospital with this tiny person who I was
supposed to take care of. Recognizing they needed help, she and
her husband called Christine Kealy, the woman who’d taught
their Babycare Workshop and director of In a Family Way. Within
hours Christine was at the Ford’s home and had made Jan completely
comfortable. She had Jan tucked in bed with food and water at her
side, helped her overcome breastfeeding difficulties, taught her
tricks for minimizing hemorrhoid discomfort, threw in a load of
laundry, rocked the baby to sleep and had a rosemary -scented chicken
roasting in the oven. During the next few weeks, she taught Jan
and her husband how to change, diaper and bathe the baby, showed
up with breakfast in the morning, cooked meals and overall acted
as a mentor. "She offered a steady hand, "Jan recalls.
"She was a positive presence in a sea of confusion. Christine
would tell me I needed socks for the baby, then she’d go out
and get the socks! She took care of me completely."
mother are pushed out of the hospitals sooner than ever - sometimes
as early as 24 hours after giving birth - which leaves them with
a happy little bundle and a bumper crop of questions: How does a
breast pump work? Is diaper rash contagious? Enter the doula, a
professional angel of mercy whose raison d’etre is to tend
to Mom by supporting her and performing any odd tasks that need
doing (the word doula is Greek for "mothering the new mother")
There are a number of doula agencies around the city but In a Family
Way, (124 West 79th St. NYC, 212-877-8112) founded by Christine
Kealy, gets unqualified raves from clients
Manhattan resident Georgia Breen was expecting her first born, she
knew that her relatives lived too far away to come and help, she
knew she wanted to breastfeed and she knew she didn’t want
a babynurse. "I knew that I wanted to look after my own baby,
but I really wanted someone there to be supportive and willing to
do the things I couldn’t do"
Another new mother Jacqueline Rivkin was very adamant -at first
- about not wanting any help. But after two weeks with her newborn
and having a lot of difficulty breastfeeding, her pediatrician suggested
she get some assistance: someone to help with the feedings, allow
her the time to take a nap or shower and provide expertise to the
situation. It was In a Family Way that came to the aid of both new
mothers. "My doula did everything from making me a cup of tea
to running errands to preparing a meal to putting in a load of laundry
- all in a very quiet, sensitive, supportive manner," said
Breen, "..and if the baby was crying non-stop and I was at
the end of my rope, my doula would always be soothing and offer
wonderful advice and restore my sense of perspective." "My
doula started coming when my daughter Natasha was two- and -a -half
weeks old and she provided a tremendous amount of experience in
mothering. I felt like I had an older sister who had been through
this before and was going to help me through the problems. She was
very non-judgmental, non-obtrusive and very supportive in helping
me to get my daughter to breastfeed," assured Rivkin.
Maureen McClave arrived home from the hospital with her new baby,
she was overwhelmed. "I just sat on this couch and cried,"
she said. In need of a helping hand, McClave and her husband hired
Christine Kealy, a professional postpartum doula. Doulas provide
emotional support to women throughout pregnancy, during birth and
in the postpartum period. They are not medical professionals and
they differ from child nurses in that they focus their attention
on the mother's needs..."We're saying, 'I know how elated you
feel. I know how pressured you feel. I know how inadequate you feel,'"
said McClave's doula, Kealy.
Herzan, a social worker with a 2 month-old swears her doula kept
her out of the "looney bin", "This is my first baby,"
said the Upper West Side resident. "I knew nothing about infants
- like the (character in Gone With The Wind). Herzan, an only child
with elderly parents, knew she needed help in even the basics of
diaper-changing and feeding. But she also needed a little pampering
herself. She hired a doula for 2 weeks and raves about the benefits.
"She didn’t do for me, but showed me, in a non-judgmental
was, how to care for Lily." Kathryn Harrold, an actress is
a "veteran" with 13 month old Elizabeth. But she shudders
whenever she recalls her days fresh home from the hospital. "Newborn
poop is really scary," she laughs. "Elizabeth had diarrhea
four times in a row. My Doctor said something about her losing electrolytes,
and I called my doula in a panic. Her mentor’s advice? "She
told me to save the diaper and she’d come right over. Gross,
right?" Not only did Christine proclaim the diaper normal,
she came armed with an ice cream bar to soothe Mom’s emotional
Angel: Christine Kealy built a rewarding business helping couples
navigate the first days of parenthood.
Christine Kealy's clients were stressed out.
The couple had hired her to get them organized after their baby
was born. But the infant arrived three weeks early, when they were
in the midst of packing for a move to their new home. Virtually
everything they owned was stowed in boxes when they returned from
the hospital with the baby. Kealy knew what to do. She put the couple
to bed. Then she set up a bassinet and changing area and roasted
a chicken with rosemary, vegetables, and potatoes. When they woke
up, they were amazed to discover that the house was filled with
the aroma of home cooking. Despite the cardboard cartons that surrounded
them, "they realized they were going to be all right,"
says Kealy. Kealy is one of a growing number of women entrepreneurs
who work as doulas, a Greek word for mother's servant. As non-medical
workers, they offer postpartum care by providing support with shopping,
light cooking, breastfeeding tips, errands, and emotional needs."