Mothers are most decidedly put on a pedestal at West End Mamas.
A large pedestal, with plenty of room for expectant mamas, new mamas and longtime mamas.
“We are not meant to do this alone,” said Dr. Sarah Mickeler, founder of Toronto’s first one-stop prenatal and postnatal wellness clinic that has newly expanded to Newmarket.
“I have created a community to shepherd women through this wild, transitional period in our lives.”
It was when she was pregnant with her son that Mickeler, a chiropractor who has been treating pregnant women for 15 years, realized the need for a clinic such as West End Mamas that offers a full range of carefully screened services — from acupuncture, chiropractic care and massage to doula services, workshops and yoga — all in one place.
“I found it so shocking that, even for me, it was a learning curve,” she said. “While it was very isolating trying to find the physical and emotional support I needed during and following my pregnancy, at the same time I knew that I was not the only one struggling.”
“We used to live in communities, we would be shepherded into motherhood by generations before us, our moms and grandmothers.
“Now, we have our babies and we sit in our houses and cry,” she added, referencing the lack of support many women face not only after having their babies, but during pregnancy.
Pregnancy “is such a vulnerable time”, Mickeler said.
“You want to do what’s right for you and the baby,” she explained, “but it can be hard to know who to trust.”
Even your health care provider doesn’t always know who is best to recommend for care and services, Mickeler added.
And recent and pending cuts to public health care budgets are creating a real gap in prenatal education, she said.
Beyond the services offered at West End Mamas, Mickeler’s clinic creates a community of mothers.
It’s not unusual to see mothers become friends, who often “hang out” at the clinic to socialize.
And you’ll see mamas of all ages with kids of all ages — including women in their 40s and 50s.
“Once you’ve had a baby, you’re post-partum forever,” Mickeler said with a laugh.
It’s a community based on acceptance.
“I’m pretty neurotic about how we treat pregnant women,” she said in terms of “normalizing the experience”, and no shaming is permitted.
For instance, whether you want to be knocked out and feel nothing when you give birth, or you want to feel everything, it’s a mother’s choice.
“We are really big fans of diversity in birthing and we recognize one size doesn’t fit all,” she said, a philosophy reflected in the wide range of services available.
She recruits the practitioners herself, sourcing the most experienced, and also offers a training program at her clinic.
The practitioners are as diverse in culture and ethnicity as are the patients.
“We’re real women, with real bodies,” she added.
Women embraced West End Mama when it first opened in Toronto in 2017, and it quickly established a reputation as the city’s premier prenatal and postnatal clinic for providing mothers with a safe, inclusive and caring space to receive health care services and parenting support.
About 600 to 700 patients attend West End Mamas in Toronto annually, making 12,000 visits there last year, Mickeler said.
Many of her clients had urged her to open a location north of the city, which is booming with young families.
Mickeler was familiar with York Region, having grown up in Stouffville, and was looking for an opportunity to grow as her Toronto location was “bursting at the seams”.
The spacious Newmarket clinic, close to Highway 404 at 1100 Gorham St., is “the perfect location,” she said.
And while the second West End Mamas is actually on the east side of Newmarket, it didn't make sense to change the name of the now well-recognized brand, Mickeler added.
The new West End Mamas features seven private treatment rooms, two large studios for group yoga and workshops, and retail space all designed to provide calm and comfort. In addition to health and wellness services, West End Mamas York Region will offer a variety of yoga and fitness classes, childbirth education classes, and community events and workshops, including infant first aid.
The small details matter, with on-site child-minding during appointments, online booking, direct insurance billing, stroller parking with loaner locks, and soundproofed rooms provided.
For a full range of services offered, click here.
Among the most popular services are acupuncture, pre and post-natal massage, and pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy is “integral” and “nothing short of miraculous”, Mickeler said.
“Look at any mom, we sneeze, laugh or cough and we pee our pants a little,” she added.
As well, there are “tons and tons” of free high-quality classes, including fitness and yoga.