Birth and postpartum doulas Kat Schuknecht, Tiffany Wogsland and Jaime Healy-Plotkin (from left) are all members of the Madison Postpartum Collective.
Marked by sleep deprivation and uncertainty, the time after a baby is born is notoriously challenging. And for some new parents, there’s surprisingly little help. The Madison Postpartum Collective aims to make life with a new baby a bit easier.
“In America, very little attention is given to the postpartum period,” says founder Kat Schuknecht. “So little, in fact, that most people believe the term ‘postpartum’ is synonymous with ‘depression,’” she says. (It just means “after childbirth.”)
As a certified postpartum doula and a maternal mental health advocate, Schuknecht is familiar with the challenges faced by new parents. Extended families might not be living nearby as they were in days past, she says. “Society expects parents to do it all, and parents feel like they’re failing if they struggle.”
As she spends time with new parents after the baby is born, it’s not uncommon to find they need additional care: “Part of my job as a postpartum doula is to connect families with other local providers and resources.”
The Madison Postpartum Collective, which formed in January, grew from Schuknecht’s desire to get to know these providers better and to work directly with them to help families.
The collective is made up of more than a dozen providers, including therapists, lactation consultants, women’s health professionals and massage therapists. Coming together as a collective allows them to connect with each other to network and share resources.
Collective members have their own individual businesses and set their own fees. Some have sliding scales and some accept insurance. Parents and caregivers may contact a provider directly, but a collective member can also help families figure out who might be a good fit. The Madison Postpartum Collective website, madisonpostpartumcollective.com, makes getting help more of a one-stop shop.
Schuknecht says she’s encouraged by the group’s momentum. “I know this is going to help improve the support we each provide to local families, especially in the way it will change how we give referrals. Providers are becoming more aware of what’s available in our area and are getting to know each other on a personal level,” she says.
The collective also offers two free support groups. MotherTrees is held four times per month as a drop-in group specifically for new or newish moms, though babies are welcome, too. “The group focuses on self-care and the idea that we aren’t just mothers; we still have an individual identity alongside motherhood,” Schuknecht says. The collective also runs an online peer support group for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
“Every parent goes through a postpartum period after the baby’s arrival, and it’s the collective’s hope that local families will see us as a go-to resource during that time,” says Schuknecht. “Parents are not meant to raise their children on their own. We are here to support them. We are here to help make those next few months or years after the baby’s arrival a bit easier.”