On Bravo's Pregnant in Heels, maternity concierge Rosie Pope helps her uptight clients select baby names and takes moms who are turned off by breastfeeding to lactation education classes. While her clients' demands, and her own approach, are extreme enough to warrant their own show and a Saturday Night Live skit, there is a real and growing baby planning industry, and it's not just for wealthy people starring on reality television.
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"My clients are not like [those in] Pregnant in Heels," says Ingrid Prueher, baby planner and founder of SavvyMomOnCallBabyPlanner.com, based in Fairfield, Conn. Her services start at $15 for email consultations, and she offers free how-to videos on her website for people who can't afford one-on-one help. Most soon-to-be moms (and dads) are so overwhelmed by decisions about everything from car seats to child care that they are desperate for assistance.
Even Pope herself, the queen of baby planners, offers plenty of assistance off-air to people who are in lower tax brackets than her co-stars on the show. Her New York studio offers pre- and post-natal classes on breastfeeding, baby CPR, fitness, and other baby-related training, starting at $15. She will also soon offer more free video guidance on her website, RosiePope.com.
Pope attributes the explosion of interest in the baby industry to her "grandma theory." "My mom was a working mom, so when I had my first baby and expected her to come and look after me, she had no idea, because she was doing business … We're missing that 'old nana' generation," she says. In other words, no one's around to teach us how to be parents because our own parents are living full lives of their own. So we turn to professionals instead.
For new and soon-to-be parents who are still on the fence about splurging on assistance, here's a guide to the services most worth their price, as well as tips on finding the most affordable versions of help.
The website mealtrain.com allows friends and relatives to organize a meal delivery schedule for new parents, and creator Michael Laramee says it's already helped arrange about 7,000 "meal trains" to families with newborns. "The concept is old, but this helps make sure the meals are spread out and not overlapping," he says. New parents can also let people know where to leave meals, as well as food preferences and allergies. (The site is free for users.)
Heng Ou, founder of MotherBees, a Los Angeles-based provider of holistic services to expectant and new moms, prepares traditional healing foods such as Chinese seawood soup, thought to help with lactation and restore the body, as well as other types of green soups filled with herbs and vegetables. She also uses fennel seeds, carob, ginger, and herbs from local farmers' markets. (Meal delivery starts at about $20.)
Another option: DIY. Pleasance Lowengard Silicki, founder of Lil Omm, a yoga studio for families in Washington, D.C., made a lot of meals while she was pregnant to store in the freezer. "It was simple and I really enjoyed making healthy food for my family and preparing for the baby," she says.
Coco Peate, founder of the website VidaCoco.com , which focuses on multicultural parenting, urges parents to stock up on pantry mainstays as well, so quick meals are easy. She recommends keeping items such as beans, rice, and frozen mixed vegetables on hand before giving birth—something she did herself before welcoming her fourth child home a month ago.
Professional baby care services:
Baby nurses have also played key roles on reality television shows lately, with star turns alongside Tori Spelling and Bethenny Frankel. But plenty of non-celebs take advantage of their services, too, especially in the South, where hiring baby nurses tends to be more common. Loulie Scharf, author and mother of two in Wilmington, N.C., says her mother gave her two weeks' worth of baby nurse services after the births of both her children. The first time, the help was invaluable: "She was an absolute angel, and very respectful of our wishes that we wanted to do it ourselves but we wanted her guidance," says Scharf. In addition to helping the couple care for their baby, the baby nurse cooked and took care of household chores.