'Mama Coach' service for parents in northern Ontario offers personalized help and advice

Running on coffee with very little sleep, Tianna Deck reached out to an expert to seek advice on how to help her eight-month-old baby sleep through the night.

“You know what’s best for your babies, but sometimes you’re not always confident that you’re doing the right thing," Deck said.

"Especially with all of this information and stuff that’s on the Internet about what you should do, what you shouldn’t do, so it’s really nice to have that evidence-based, solid background science -- someone who understands that and someone who can help your baby using the best methods possible.”

The mother of two found out about Carolyn Marshall -- also known as the Mama Coach -- and saw success quickly.

“Within two or three nights of following the routine that Carolyn helped us make up, she was, my daughter, was sleeping pretty much her full nights and within the two weeks she was sleeping full nights, full naps in her crib by herself," she said.

"I wasn’t sleeping because she wasn’t sleeping.”

Marshall has been a registered nurse for a decade. She specializes in pediatrics and neo-natal intensive care. During her time at Health Sciences North, she noticed parents weren’t getting all the support they needed.

“I’m very passionate about northern Ontario and the lack of services that we have, and I continued to see a gap in my community," she said.

Marshall left her job at Sudbury’s hospital last fall and started her own business under the Mama Coach brand. She provides support and tips for feeding (breast feeding, pumping and formula), sleeping, potty training, CPR, pre- and post-natal programs. She does it both in person and virtually, allowing her to connect with patients across the north.

“If I can at least provide some reassurance that what you’re doing is OK, and how to reach your goals in your family and, you know, not overwhelm family doctors, as well, I think that’s just another piece of the puzzle for health care in Canada,” Marshall said.

While services the Mama Coach offers are available for free through local health units, Deck said what Marshall provides is a little different.

“It’s the personal touch," she sad. "She works with you and with your family. As all moms know, not all babies fit into the same mold, same patterns -- they’re all a little different. I find sometimes doing stuff through other outlets, maybe like the health unit, it's not as personalized.”

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