Sarah Mickeler is a real-life mother, and the mother who birthed the idea for West End Mamas: a supportive community of healthcare professionals (stroller) accessible under one roof that offers a variety of services for every stage of motherhood: from fertility issues to the demands of life with children.
As someone who had a baby three years ago and still feels in shock of what motherhood entails, I wholeheartedly believe in what Sarah has created and want to do my best to share her story and the story of West End Mamas with as many Toronto moms as I can. Why? Because being a mom is hard work, mentally and physically; you need the village. The village is critical for your well-being, and somewhere along the line, we lost it. But Sarah’s brought it back.
SDTC: How did your career goals change after having a baby?
SM: Having a baby solidified my career choice as a chiropractor to support mamas in their parenting journey. I had a really hard time postpartum, and it made it crystal clear to me that I wanted to change the experience for other women. It also made me want to bring my clinic to Bloor West Village, which is closer to home and in the heart of a thriving community with lots of mamas and mamas-to-be.
Was there one light bulb moment that sparked the idea for West End Mamas?
It was less of a light bulb moment and more of a process that evolved over my thirteen years of treating thousands of women. My patients didn’t know the range of health and wellness options available to them, and who could blame them? The choices were scattered around the city, with murky information, some questions about the expertise of practitioners, and no continuity of care between those practitioners.
Women deserve the best, most experienced, and most compassionate care available to them. They deserve to have it all in one place. It was from my entire chiropractic experience and my own experience as a mother that I decided to take the plunge and put all of the best perinatal experts in one place and create a one-stop shop for mothering.
Since becoming a mom, what are the greatest lessons you’ve learned about self-care?
Not to be too hard on myself. I work A LOT. I often don’t have the time to do the things I should to take the best care of myself. But I realize that this is just a season in my life. I will have balance again someday. So I try to do little things as I can manage them. I don’t ever sleep with my phone in the room – I don’t need any middle-of-the-night distractions on those nights where sleep doesn’t come easily to me.
Our nutritionist, Allison Martineau, has set me up with a diet plan that works for me. Instead of going to the gym, I walk to work. My self-care involves a lot of latitude for myself.
You’ve created West End Mamas to not only be a one-stop shop, but also to provide mothers with a community. Can you expand on the goals of the community?
The story I hear is always the same: “I got pregnant, I planned for the pregnancy and the birth, and then Baby came and I wasn’t prepared for life after Baby.” We are parenting in isolation in our little houses or apartments, not really knowing what’s normal, spending all of our spare time looking things up on Google. We ask the Internet “is this normal” ten times a day.
But Google isn’t a doctor. Google isn’t a village. We need to band together as mothers, pregnant women, and as a community to support one another. Years ago, people banded together as a village to raise a child. In some societies across the world, they still do. Western society’s pressure to be able to do it all ourselves is really creating problems with my mamas. We need that village. I want West End Mamas to be that village for Toronto.
Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. But it was made more difficult by the fact that nobody was talking about how hard it really is. I hope I can be part of a community that talks about real motherhood, shares our experiences, and creates a safe haven for moms.
What about this new endeavour brings you the greatest amount of fulfillment?
Every single day patients come in and thank us for opening. They are so glad they have care they can trust and it’s right in their backyard. Postpartum mamas tell me they wish we had been open when they were pregnant. That gets me through every long day. I know we are impacting the lives of many just by being here and I honestly couldn’t ask for more than that.
What is your best advice to new moms?
Don’t let anyone into your house to visit your baby unless they have food for you. This is not a joke! But here are a few things I like to share with my patients:
- It’s going to be harder than you think it will be, so set up a support structure BEFORE your baby is born. We aren’t meant to do this alone.
- Night-time can be lonely and difficult. Normally at night we sleep. With a new baby, this goes out the window. If you’re struggling, please ask your partner to share the load with you.
- Know that it will be hard and there are resources available to help you cope.
- Peeing your pants postpartum is not normal and should be dealt with. If that shocks you, you should see how many patients mention this to me in passing as if it’s not a big issue. But it can be addressed and usually very easily treated with the right rehabilitation!
We will share with our readers all the services you offer, but if you could reach out to them with an invite, what would that be?
West End Mamas welcomes moms from every walk of life into our clinic with open arms. If you are looking for honesty, openness, and the best health & wellness practitioners in Toronto to advocate and heal you on your motherhood journey, you’ve come to the right place.
Anything else you’d like to share?
West End Mamas is here to help, patient or not. We have a welcoming area to nurse or bottle feed your baby, have a glass of water, a snack, and changing tables in our bathrooms that you are welcome to use at any time. Stop by and say hello. We would be so glad to be a part of your village.
The team of professionals at West End Mamas offers support in the following areas:
Family & Marriage Therapy
Lactation & Breastfeeding Consultants
Parent Coaching & Counselling
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
Prenatal & Postpartum Doulas
Registered Massage Therapy
Beyond individual treatment, there are lots of exciting workshops, some for just Mom and others for Mom and Baby. They even have childcare for when you are in dire need of a massage!
Peek inside and see how West End Mamas can best serve you.