Carly, an economist living in Portugal, initially turned to Maven due to difficulties accessing the country’s national healthcare system during the pandemic. What she found was a caring community of providers across a range of specialties – from physical therapy to lactation to mental health — and whole-person support throughout her family-building journey.
An isolating time
Carly began her pregnancy journey within the Portuguese national healthcare system. As an American living abroad, however, she found that cultural differences related to pregnancy, along with her relative unfamiliarity with medical Portuguese, made her experience as a first-time mom more stressful. This was compounded by the onset of the pandemic, which made visiting her relatives nearby impossible, and left her feeling especially removed from her family in the United States.
“We were in the pandemic without any of my family, isolated even from my husband’s family who lives 20 minutes away,” Carly said. Because of the pandemic, Carly wasn’t able to schedule ultrasounds through the Portuguese national healthcare system and instead had to work with private doctors.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the experience navigating a complex healthcare system during a global pandemic that weighed on Carly. She also faced an insurmountable and unexpected loss in her family: her sister and brother-in-law both passed away during the early stages of her pregnancy. Her grief, coupled with the loneliness of COVID, made a difficult time almost impossible.
Unfettered access to specialty providers
Carly started using Maven in her second trimester, working with a doula in preparation for her delivery and to get the understanding and compassionate support she was missing from her in-person care. “She was exactly how I imagined I wanted my doula to be,” she said. “When you lose a family member so unexpectedly, [the possibility of loss during pregnancy] becomes more real. I needed the reassurance that Maven gave me, that my baby was going to be okay and that I was going to be okay.”
“Maven is the support system that every parent deserves but doesn’t necessarily get.”
Carly found that working with a doula was essential to the safe and successful delivery of her son. Research from The Journal of Perinatal Education shows doula-assisted mothers are two times less likely to experience a birth complication involving them or their baby. Carly’s doula helped her navigate a complex health system made more challenging by language and cultural barriers, and offered much needed encouragement and peace of mind.
Once her son was born, Carly continued to lean on Maven as she navigated her postpartum journey. Because she and her husband were raising their son without in-person familial support, Carly had no one to model behavior after, and could feel insecure about asking her friends questions. She turned to Maven, where she found a pediatrician who saw her every week for the first month and a half after her son was born. “Maven was a source of so much comfort and reassurance,” said Carly. “It just feels like this ecosystem for every time I have a question.”
The impact of whole-person care
As Carly’s parenting journey progressed, she found that the breadth and depth of Maven’s offering allowed her to find support for each of her specific needs. Like almost two-thirds of new moms, Carly was having trouble breastfeeding her son. She started to meet weekly with a lactation consultant through Maven: “Every time we talk, she affirms me and tells me I’m doing great, that I’m doing the best for my son I can do. It just feels so amazing to hear someone say that.”
Through Maven, Carly has found a physical therapist for her son, a food and sleep consultant, and a therapist experienced in postpartum recovery with whom she now meets regularly. In a time of physical and emotional isolation, the compassion and advocacy she’s experienced from all the Maven practitioners have helped to relieve some of Carly’s anxieties as a new mother. “Maven is the support system that every parent deserves but doesn’t necessarily get,” Carly said.
Carly has seen the importance of a community where people can ask questions about pregnancy and childrearing without judgment. “The practitioners on Maven create a very safe space. There’s so much empathy. I can come with whatever questions I have and not feel judged.” One of Carly’s core parenting values is the importance of showing up for her son in a positive way every day — but she knows she can only do that if she has support as well. Maven empowers new parents to take care of themselves so they can be there for their kids.
“I don’t know where I’d be if [I] hadn’t gotten Maven,” said Carly. “I’m eternally grateful.”
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