Pregnant women are at a pivotal time in their lives. The anticipation of a baby can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Within this population is a certain sense of vulnerability in terms of health and mental wellbeing. Prenatal classes aim to empower pregnant women throughout the pregnancy and early parenthood stages by providing education and a sense of community. This shared milestone has the potential to collapse socioeconomic, racial, and cultural boundaries.
Healthy Beginnings is an experience that will leverage the intimacy of prenatal class groups to breach differences among mothers. Locating this experience at Toronto Western Hospital, the nexus of disparate neighbourhoods in Toronto, I hope to unite a diverse group of women. A third space generally accessible for most people, hospitals serve people from all walks of life. I will ask doctors at this hospital to refer their pregnant patients to this program.
To help these women become more aware of their similarities, the experience will focus on parsing out shared fears, challenges, aspirations, etc. This will take the form of group discussions. Each group would ideally consist of 8 women. If the numbers are higher, they will be split into intentionally diverse cohorts. Every Saturday class will begin with a check-in, followed by a short educational lecture and Q&A session delivered by a medical professional. Then the discussion portion will begin. Since each woman will have a unique due date, women will leave the program at different times, opening spaces for new participants. In this way, the community will change over time. My hope is that women will leave this experience with more empathy.