When Jamie O’Day, BSN, RN, IBCLC, met her future business partner Emily Silver, MS, NP-C, IBCLC, the two were doing overnight shifts at BIDMC Labor & Delivery. It was 2009, and the two kept hearing from worried new moms about the lack of postpartum care. Over a decade later, NAPS (formerly Boston NAPS) offers parents—here in Southie as well as all over the world—many of those critical missing services. And their business is growing by leaps and bounds.
The idea for NAPS was two-fold. Silver had lived abroad in Europe and saw how healthcare worked outside the U.S., particularly how caregivers would make house calls and provide guidance for new mothers beyond delivery. Combined with their experiences at Beth Israel, O’Day says, and the need became clear quickly. “We’d be creating these amazing relationships with patients in a really short period of time, and a lot of patients would be like “…can I call you? Can you come home with me??” she laughs. “It was like, why can’t we deliver care in the home? Let’s provide this high level of education and support to families.”
It started as a side hustle in 2011, with the two hiring fellow nurses and doing shifts themselves while also working at BIDMC. They initially just offered daytime and overnight nursing care but quickly realized people were looking for lactation consulting and prenatal education, too. Their offerings expanded, and they were able to commit themselves to the business full-time in 2017 after they had their own children. “It was the best decision we ever made—we opened up our first studio in Southie—and then we put a ton of effort into trying to grow the business,” O’Day remembers.
Now NAPS has prenatal classes, nursing care, lactation support, an online Nurture By Naps membership program, and corporate programming for expectant employees within organizations. “With corporate clients, people who got hit the hardest in the pandemic are working parents, especially women. Companies were really looking for resources for them,” explains O’Day. This and the online courses have grown exponentially in the past year, both because of the pandemic and also because NAPS had been hoping to expand.
In 2020, they dropped “Boston” from their name; many of their in-person clients are still Massachusetts-based, but parents take the online classes across the U.S. and internationally. NAPS now has 20 nurses and another 10 staff members. The Pre-Baby Bootcamp, which encompasses a weekend and covers anything and everything new parents need to know, is their most popular class: 70+ couples participate every year. “We give people what they want, but also what they need and don’t realize: how to communicate with your partner! How to ask for and accept help! How to come up with a plan for sleep!” O’Day says.
And they do make good on their promise to be informative. I did the online Labor & Delivery Prep class with my husband before I delivered our daughter in October; my husband grumbled afterwards, “Why couldn’t all of our pregnancy classes be that informative?”
Their Moms’ Survival Guides are also popular for much-needed community in the midst of isolation (available for women anywhere, since they’re virtual). Community, in fact, is a crucial aspect of NAPS; there’s a free, private Facebook group that’s 2,000+ people strong. In it, parents talk about nearby classes and services (“Stroller Bootcamp” at Medal of Honor Park, anyone?), requests for recommendations on gear and clothes, things people are selling or giving away, and—probably the most important aspect—the ability to talk out loud about things that are stressful. Parents post about teething challenges, woes about toilet training and solids, and general worries about whether they’re doing it right. It’s a supportive space, with lots of advice for those who want it and a ton of comments saying some version of, “I went through this exact thing! You’re not alone!”
There’s also a NAPS Moment for Mom series on Instagram, in which Silver and O’Day answer questions from users—and they get a lot of questions in the hour they make themselves available. O’Day encourages parents to check out a social media event, or one of their free webinars, if they’re curious about becoming part of the NAPS community. Some of their services are investments, but as any new parent understands, having a compassionate set of eyes and arms is invaluable. NAPS will continue virtual programming beyond the pandemic, but O’Day hopes that support groups and classes can eventually be in person.
“Everybody struggles. It might be all different challenges, but everybody struggles. Many classes can be very focused on the medical side. There’s little about delivering a baby and raising a child that’s purely medical. What you need is the real-life side of parenting, too,” she explains.
“We do cover the medical side, but we also cover the parts people don’t talk about as much—like the emotional and mental side, your heightened worries and fears. That’s real life. Your delivery and breastfeeding is a blip in your experience of being a parent. I want you to be prepared for the newborn phase, of course, but I want you to be prepared for what comes after that, too.”
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