Baby Steps

Retired Oishei pediatric nurse starts her Baby’s Joyful Journey, a business that offers education, support, empowerment to moms-to-be and moms

By Julie Halm

For a growing family, bringing a child home is a joyful experience, but also one that can be filled with questions, struggles, insecurities and doubts.

Mary Marzinek has 30 years of experience caring for the world’s youngest citizens, and recently retired from her career as a pediatric registered nurse at Oishei Children’s Hospital. In addition to her lengthy resume, Marzinek is also an international board-certified lactation consultant.

Her retirement was not reflective of a desire to cease helping young families just yet. Marzinek founded her own business, Baby’s Joyful Journey, offering a full range of educational and supportive services from prenatal education to postpartum doula services.

“My main goal is to educate and empower,” said Marzinek, who resides in Orchard Park.

In order to do that, she offers all of her services in a one-on-one setting, with the addition of the mother’s partner or support-givers as well. The ratio is no coincidence, and it is part of what prompted Marzinek to found her business.

“I have done home care in the past,” she said. “I know I enjoyed that one-on-one relationship and I know that I can make a difference in that environment.”

In her time working as a pediatric nurse, Marzinek said she often saw new parents struggle with some basics that were simply unfamiliar to them, such as changing diapers or even burping a newborn. Her experience in the field has helped to craft the prenatal newborn care class which runs approximately two hours in the client’s home and includes lots of information that can head off unnecessary challenges once the baby arrives.

The class includes information on what to expect in the hospital and as well as about the transition home. It also teaches basic points of newborn care, newborn safety tips and how to spot illnesses. It also offers information about feeding options.

For moms who choose to breastfeed and want to get a head start on learning about the process, Marzinek also offers a prenatal breastfeeding class that includes information ranging from learning about proper latch and positioning to learning about pumping.

Postpartum services offered by Baby’s Joyful Journey include newborn care, lactation consultation and postpartum doula services.

Caring for the newborn

Newborn care is offered in eight-hour increments and is completely customizable but can include Marzinek offering respite care or just working alongside the family for a bit during what can often be a hectic transition period after families return home.

While breastfeeding is a natural process, it too can come with serious challenges, like severe pain, engorgement, difficulty getting a child to latch and concerns about milk output. Lactation consults are also customizable, but include an assessment of both the mother and child. Marzinek works with the mom through a feeding, offering a lactation care plan and a report to the mom’s physician if needed.

Perhaps the most important part of lactation consults, like the rest of the services Marzinek provides, is that she offers the mom an opportunity to talk about what’s going on and be supported and educated.

“We as women question ourselves and we doubt ourselves and I feel like if I’m there during this time, I can help make a difference in their confidence as a parent,” she said.

Postpartum doula services are the most comprehensive offered, and are customized to the need of each family and can last from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. In some cases, she will be in-home eight hours a day, three days a week, and for some families, shorter stints on more days prove to be more helpful.

Whatever the schedule, Marzinek’s goal is to mother the mother.

“During this time, mom is really healing and recovering from birth and I’m there to help her with whatever she may need,” she said.

That could include assistance with newborn care, help with breastfeeding, light housework, helping to care for siblings, or simply being there to be an emotional support.

Marzinek said she does not have many counterparts in the area doing what she does, as this kind of postnatal care is just becoming more popular. While mothering may not have changed much over the decades, the new business owner noted that families don’t tend to stay in the same area as they did years ago, being able to offer support to a new mom.

Additionally, there are fewer moms and matriarchs in general who are home full-time, putting more pressure on new mothers and making for more strained support systems.

While there are many reasons why a growing family might come to Marzinek, she said she hopes that in each instance, she is able to provide support, education and confidence to each individual with whom she works.

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Photo: Mary Marzinek has 30 years of experience caring for the world’s youngest citizens.