Palo Alto’s Blossom Birth is an independent nonprofit dedicated to providing information and support for pregnancy, birth and babies. PAMP Executive Director Amourence Lee sat down with Mora Oommen, executive director of Blossom, to find out more about the organization.
Amourence Lee (AL): Tell us a little about yourself.
Mora Oommen (MO): I moved to Palo Alto when I was seven months pregnant, and I didn’t know anybody here. Someone suggested I come to Blossom for prenatal yoga, and that was my first experience. I took all my prenatal classes here and came back for all my postpartum support groups. I met all my friends through Blossom.
Soon I started volunteering and then I was on the board for some time before I applied for the open executive director position in 2008. My daughter is 5 years old now, and Blossom is her second home.
MO: Blossom’s mission is to make sure that expectant couples and families find the support they need in a nonjudgmental location. We are an independent, nonprofit community resource, so we want to be sure that people feel like they could come here and get advice and information about the choices they’d like to make for their birth or their parenting experience. For example, people can come here and ask about providers, such as the difference between a midwife and an OB and choosing a birth center versus a home birth versus a hospital birth.
AL: Can you give us an overview of the kinds of services that you provide?
MO: Blossom has full prenatal support, including childbirth preparation classes, baby care classes and prenatal yoga every single day of the week. We really believe that yoga is a great way to prepare your body for birth and also a great way to connect with other women who are pregnant.
We also have classes for after the baby is born, including a postpartum moods and challenges group, breastfeeding support and, of course, parent-baby groups and classes such as infant massage, baby sign language and Music Together.
Other services include a lending library, a list of local providers to help people find acupuncturists, massage therapists, chiropractors, etc. and our retail/resale store. This is our newest venture. In the resale part, people can recycle gently used maternity and baby clothes and also purchase these items at highly discounted rates. Our retail section carries breastfeeding and baby wearing gear, herbs and organic toys.
We also do community events. For example, we have a Meet the Doulas Night, which is a way for couples to find out about what doulas are and to meet the doulas in the area.
MO: I have to say the infant massage class was one of my most favorite. Reenie (McCaffrey), who teaches our class, creates this magical space where the ambience, the music and the connection and bonding between you and your child is just beautiful.
I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the first year of being a parent without the support that I got every week from other parents in the parent-baby groups at Blossom. Eva (Roodman) has facilitated the group for over 10 years here at Blossom. She brings an extremely nonjudgmental view and has an amazing way of facilitating the group so that everyone feels welcome. The class isn’t based on a specific topic. You share your questions and ideas, experiment and talk to other parents about what’s worked for them.
AL: Do you offer PAMP members a special discount?
AL: Are there any exciting things in the pipeline that you want to share?
MO: We are expanding our mom & baby yoga classes and will also be including a family yoga class pretty soon. We just offered a Moms’ Mini Yoga Retreat, which was really exciting. A lot of people were interested in it, so we’re probably going to do more of those. We just received a grant to pilot a mindfulness-based yoga class here, so there will be more of that coming up soon as well. We also have a new website in store, which will have a lot more features and be more user friendly, so we’re excited about that as well.
We are really in a unique place here in the Bay Area because we have a resource like PAMP that has been around for 20 years and has sustained support for parents in the area, similar to the way that Blossom has been around for 13 years now and has offered an opportunity for people to come together and to support each other as they navigate parenting. And given that the Bay Area attracts so many people who don’t necessarily have family in the area, these institutions give people support and help them form a community that is like family. We’re happy to be able to collaborate with PAMP in many ways and look forward to doing more together.
Our goal with this series is to help PAMP members connect to family resources in our community by highlighting local nonprofit and public agencies. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate an organization for an upcoming PAMP Highlight article.