Having a baby? It can be really joyous…and it can be really hard. Thunder Bay families now have a new resource, The Doula Shop, which Liisa Hymander opened in late 2016. “I want to connect the northwestern Ontario community with doulas,” says Hymander, who is a doula herself and a mom of two girls aged 5 and 11. (A doula is a trained companion who gives new parents emotional and practical support during labour, birth and the postpartum period.) She hires doulas to work at the store, and the space is a professional hub for doulas to lead workshops and meet families. Thunder Bay has a couple dozen trained doulas, says Hymander, but most of them are not working full time in that career. It’s also a great place to find products and events for moms-to-be, new parents and babes.
Gear to check out
The store carries a thoughtfully curated selection of locally made and ethically sourced mom and baby gear. Local items include handmade maple and birch rattles, carved applewood spoons by Fablewood Homestead, Bare Organics skin care, pregnancy and birth-themed cards by local artist Jayan, knitted booties, reusable nursing pads, cloth diapers and upcycled blankets and change pads made by Thunder Bay doulas, says Hymander. Other popular items include Hevea natural rubber teethers and balls, labour and postpartum essential oil kits, cloth slings for babywearing and Tummy Tub baby bathtubs. “People also like the rebozo, which is a scarf used to help a labouring mom into different positions,” says Hymander. “Ours are really beautiful and are made by a doula in Mexico.”
Classes for new parents
Hymander’s other business, Northern Baby Links, is a natural fit with The Doula Shop. Through it, she and and care professionals offer fun, interactive workshops on Shantala infant massage, baby sign language, pre and postnatal yoga, and THRIVE, a 12-week attachment parenting course. One new offering is Henna Bellies, where Hymander applies temporary henna designs to mama’s third trimester bump, often at a gathering that’s a twist on the usual baby shower. “Henna is traditionally used in female rituals and ceremonies,” says Hymander. “This is the North American version and it’s a way for a woman to feel honoured and looked after. It celebrates a mom before she gives birth.” Through its relationship with a local wellness network, the shop also has an in-house massage therapist available to do pre and postnatal massage, and hosts events like a prenatal food workshop and movie screenings.
Hymander’s favourite aspect of the shop: fostering resiliency. When a mom feels lost, alone or exhausted, that affects the patience and attention they have for their children, she says. “The Doula Shop creates a space where mothers can connect, empower and nuture themselves and their baby.”
278 Bay St. Thunder Bay