If you’re expecting a baby — or hope to be expecting one soon — you already know that this is a unique and exciting, yet overwhelming, time of life. And that’s on a normal day, one without a global pandemic.
Luckily, living in Westchester means having access to the best doctors, hospitals, medical facilities, and holistic health specialists to help ensure a smooth and successful pregnancy at any time. In addition, the county offers a wealth of places to educate yourself on the birthing process, shop for your bundle of joy, and pamper yourself and baby.
Here are the resources you need to know and the fun material you want to know when you are expecting during the unexpected.
New advances in fertility and what is available locally.
By Stacey Pfeffer
The decision to create a life can be extremely exciting, but it can also be quite stressful for the significant number of men and women who struggle with infertility. The financial burden of assisted reproductive technology methods, the process of conceiving, and then maintaining a healthy pregnancy, all contribute to the emotional toll that infertility can take.
Luckily, changes are afoot regarding reproductive medicine — from legislation and recent advances in genetic screening to an increase in knowledge regarding egg freezing — and couples in Westchester have access to the latest fertility techniques and expertise. And even though fertility treatments were delayed or halted during the height of the pandemic, couples are now getting back on track with their treatments, notes local fertility specialist Dr. Matthew Lederman, a reproductive endocrinologist with Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York (a fertility clinic with a location in White Plains).
“Things are getting back to normal for our patients,” Lederman says. “We have modified our procedures and protocols in our office to create a safe environment: Our patients will get a text prior to their appointments about when to come into the office; upon entering the office, all patients and staff are screened with both a questionnaire and temperature check; the waiting room layout was changed to maximize social distancing, and all patients and staff are required to wear masks at all times. We also offer telehealth appointments for both new patient visits and follow-ups.
“Although knowledge regarding the effects of COVID-19 on pregnancy are limited,” Lederman adds, “the initial data for women trying to conceive is reassuring.”
When it comes to specific options for patients today, Lederman notes that advances in fertility treatments are all leading to improved success rates for couples or women desiring a baby. For instance, Lederman has seen an increased interest in egg freezing in recent years from women in their early 30s and even younger.
“More women are aware today that the quality of their eggs is better when they are younger, so they are choosing to look into egg freezing as a backup plan,” he explains. “Giving women options for conception is appealing, and it provides peace of mind for patients to know they’ve proactively done something to increase their chances of having a baby in the future.”
National statistics echo Lederman’s observations: The average age of patients opting for egg freezing was 35 in 2018; in 2016, the average age was 38. Moreover, researchers are anticipating huge growth in this area as Millennials seek to preserve both their fertility and their options.
One popular option is assisted reproductive technology (ART), which includes in vitro fertilization, or IVF. A recent advancement in reproductive medicine, especially with regard to IVF, is the screening of embryos. At RMA, embryologists biopsy the outside cells of an embryo without harming it, to screen for chromosomal abnormalities, and then implant one chromosomally normal embryo (reducing the likelihood of twins or multiples) that has the highest likelihood of successful conception.
“Transfer of a single, screened embryo maximizes the chance of success and reduces risk of miscarriage. We can’t totally eliminate a miscarriage, but we can greatly reduce the chances,” explains Lederman.
Reproductive technology doesn’t come cheap, though, and not all patients experience success after their first cycle. IVF patients can typically spend more than $20,000, while egg-freezing patients can expect to spend more than $10,000 on treatment and storage.
An increasing number of Westchesterites struggling with infertility are seeking alternative treatments, as well. Chryssa Tsakiris, founder of Sleepy Hollow-based Well Collaborative, notes that when women are undergoing IVF or other fertility treatments, they often feel like “everything is in the hands of someone else. It is a very clinical process.”
Tsakiris, an acupuncture practitioner, founded Well Collaborative to offer acupuncture to Westchester women looking to improve their chances of fertility or to help them manage anxiety during pregnancy. Her 800 sq. ft. location was designed to look like your best friend’s apartment (think cozy chairs, greenery galore, and gentle lighting), with a soothing atmosphere that can only help during such stressful times.
As soon as acupuncture was classified an essential service, allowing Tsakiris to safely reopen, she says most of her patients “came back immediately because they wanted to move forward with their fertility treatments.”
As she explains, “Seventy percent of the practice is fertility-based,” with some clients coming weekly during their pregnancies and others coming in for sessions preconception. To help cut down on potentially risky face-to-face time, Tsakiris now conducts the intake portion of the appointment as a virtual meeting via Zoom.
While Tsakiris has garnered a loyal following from local women on a fertility journey, Lederman notes that acupuncture does not necessarily improve pregnancy outcomes, though it can help with stress reduction, as stress often goes hand in hand with infertility.
Local experts and holistic facilities are seeing the importance of providing services that help mitigate stress and manage tension during this time.
Yoga Haven, with a studio in Tuckahoe, offers a virtual four-week fertility series, called Yoga for Fertility and Reproductive Empowerment. Previously, the series had been held in person at the Scarsdale studio, which closed over the summer. Spearheaded by Jaime Maldonado, the classes focus on restorative poses, breathing, and relaxation techniques to help women trying to conceive.
Maldonado believes the communal aspect and the support of other class participants are crucial. “There is this stigma with infertility. It is hard to talk about. You can’t will a baby to happen, and when it doesn’t, there can be a cycle of stress, anxiety, and depression. It is so helpful to know you aren’t alone,” says Maldonado. She’s designed the class so that it is accessible to all.
While everyone’s journey is unique, New York State has tried to make conception and pregnancy more accessible. Earlier this year, the state mandated that all large group-insurance providers cover up to three cycles of IVF treatment for those with a medical diagnosis of infertility, as well as cover egg and sperm freezing for medically necessary purposes, such as a cancer diagnosis or surgery for endometriosis. Known as the New York State Infertility Mandate, the law is expected to help the estimated one in eight couples who struggle with infertility.
Local businesses are helping to create a community for moms-to-be and new moms despite the current socially distant climate.
By Gina Valentino
As a mom-to-be, you might have tons of questions on how to prepare for the birth of your new baby. Throw in a global pandemic that largely eliminates the option of getting together with other expectant or new moms in person, and many Westchesterites are left feeling disconnected during their pregnancies. Local businesses are making it easy to answer those questions virtually, whether it’s your first baby or your fifth.
After Mamaroneck mom Emily Watson struggled with infertility, she created an online resource guide to all things pregnancy in Westchester: MyNestwell (www.mynestwell.com). The certified fertility wellness coach had looked for a platform that listed local providers, and when she couldn’t find one, created a convenient online portal herself. MyNestwell’s mission: “It takes a village to raise a mother. Let us help you
The website is organized by stage of motherhood: fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. It includes lists of specific providers in the area, such as acupuncturists, lactation consultants and counselors, childbirth educators, maternal mental health specialists, birth doulas, pelvic floor specialists, and newborn-care specialists. The platform includes FAQs and can easily connect you with local providers along your motherhood journey.
Westchester Birth and Parenting (www.westchesterbirthandparenting.com), founded by Hastings-on-Hudson resident Hilary Baxendale, offers preparation for the birth experience, group classes, and a way to meet other local families, now available virtually.
Baxendale, a Lamaze-certified educator and lactation counselor, says her main goal is to get clients on the same page as their providers and to educate clients about expectations, offering information about the basics of labor and immediate postpartum.
“We don’t want surprises. The day you give birth is full of surprises,” she says. Her virtual doula support, lactation, and new-mom groups are convenient and safe options for moms-to-be who prefer limited in-person contact during this time. The virtual doula package includes a prenatal apppointment (in person or through video chat) and unlimited texts and emails before birth and during labor; partner guidance tips; and a postnatal meeting.
Baxendale’s one-day comprehensive virtual birth classes, updated with COVID-19 policy changes, have helped to create a sense of connection for new parents. The next class is October 25.
Port Chester’s Prana Prenatal Yoga (www.pranaprenatalyoga.com) was a go-to destination for many moms-to-be pre-COVID. Now, the studio has adapted to offer virtual workshops that cover breastfeeding, sleep training, CPR/AED training, hypnobirthing, and pelvic floor training, as well as socially distanced outdoor prenatal and mommy-and-baby yoga classes. Prana is also offering virtual support groups, facilitated by lactation consultants and licensed clinical psychologists.
What to know about area hospitals before choosing where to deliver.
By Gina Valentino
Deciding where to have your baby is a big decision. While each hospital touts a highly skilled team, which may consist of obstetricians, nurses, neonatologists, anesthesiologists, and midwives, here’s what you need to know about the area’s hospitals, so you can decide which one is right for you. Check with your preferred hospital for availability on your due date.
5 Perryridge Rd, Greenwich; 203.863.3000; www.greenwichhospital.org
State-of-the-art equipment. Prenatal breastfeeding classes, a lactation consultant, a genetics counselor, and a diabetes educator are available. Private labor, delivery, and recovery rooms have TVs, phones, lavatories, and birthing beds. Level III-B Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). NICU Family Lounge located next to main Maternity Lounge Area. Birthing data not available at press time.
1980 Crompond Rd, Cortlandt Manor; 914.788.4635; www.nyp.org/hudsonvalley
A newly renovated state-of-the-art maternity center will be unveiled in November. Private rooms for triage, labor and delivery, and postpartum. L&D rooms include soaking tub for laboring. In postpartum recovery rooms, partners can stay overnight; adjustable lighting and individual temp control in rooms. Level II NICU. Lactation consulting, birthing classes, and breastfeeding support groups available.
Certified “Baby Friendly” by Baby-Friendly USA, a global initiative of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. Births: 73% vaginal and 27% Cesarean**
55 Palmer Ave, Bronxville; 914.787.5000; www.nyp.org/lawrence
Maternal-fetal medicine consultations and monitoring available; prenatal classes and breastfeeding support are offered. Level II NICU. All patients have private rooms with private bath and shower. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s gynecology services were ranked fourth in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals rankings.
Access on-site to leaders in minimally invasive gynecologic surgical techniques and experienced gynecologic robotic surgeons. 1,342 births; 60% vaginal and 40% Cesarean.**
400 E Main St, Mount Kisco; 914.666.1200; www.nwh.northwell.edu
L&D experience includes a mother-baby navigator; a personal birthing plan; and Baby University, an online education app to prepare for pregnancy stages and early motherhood. Private L&D rooms; 24/7 lactation consulting available. Level III NICU. Level III Perinatal Center. Childbirth preparation, breastfeeding, sibling, and newborn-care classes available, as well as postdelivery new-mom support groups, friends-and-family infant/child CPR class, and breastfeeding support groups. 1,531 births; 56% vaginal and 45% Cesarean.*
701 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow; 914.366.3000; www.phelps.northwell.edu
Birthing Center offers beds, labor tubs, and an infant warmer for newborns. L&D nursing staff is board-certified in fetal monitoring. Maternity Unit offers private rooms with room for partner. Lactation consultants and donor milk for babies are offered. Complimentary one-on-one breastfeeding consultation visit is offered after discharge. One of the top-10 hospitals in NYS with highest percentages of mothers who exclusively breastfeed. Designated “Baby Friendly” by Baby-Friendly USA, a global initiative of the World Health Organization and UNICEF. 1,034 births; 72% vaginal and 29% Cesarean.*
967 N Broadway, Yonkers; 914.964.4444; www.riversidehealth.org
Recognized as a Five Star Maternity Center. Private, Hudson River-view rooms; private, state-of-the-art postpartum suites; personalized prenatal education program offers Lamaze and breastfeeding classes. Concierge VIP experience. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists available. Level II NICU. 1,154 births; 57% vaginal and 43% Cesarean.*
100 Woods Rd, Valhalla; 914.493.2250; www.westchestermedicalcenter.org/advanced-ob-gyn
Advanced OB-GYN team specializes in high-risk pregnancies, in addition to well-baby/well-mother births. Four maternal-fetal medicine specialists provide advanced-level care for expectant mothers who have health issues as a result of pregnancy (including gestational diabetes or preeclampsia), and mothers who have prior medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. 970 births; 59% vaginal and 41% Cesarean.*
41 E Post Rd, White Plains; 914.681.0600; www.wphospital.org
Cutting-edge technology in L&D suites, including a Central Fetal Monitoring System. Award-winning, Level III, state-of-the-art NICU. Offers prenatal classes and educational programs, like prenatal yoga and meditation, breastfeeding basics, and classes designed for new siblings. A new pediatric emergency department/inpatient unit is currently under construction. 1,989 births; 63% vaginal and 37% Cesarean.**
Relax both yourself and your baby with a prenatal massage at one of these six Westchester spas.
900 Fort Hill Rd, Peekskill; 914.736.1200; www.theabbeyinn.com
The 50-minute Mother-to-Be Massage is tailored toward expectant mothers, with a focus on relieving stress and inflammation. Must be past first trimester. $135
322 Underhill Ave, Yorktown Heights; 914.245.1084; www.angelfacespa.com
The specialized Pregnancy Massage has four time options (from 25 minutes to 85 minutes) and is designed to ease discomfort. Recommended to be past first trimester. $70-$150
1 N Broadway, White Plains; 914.214.9287; www.elementsmassage.com/white-plains
Elements Massage offers 60-minute and 90-minute prenatal massages focusing on promoting the well-being of mom and baby. Must be past first trimester. $129-$179
777 White Plains Rd, Scarsdale; 914.902.9200; www.massageenvy.com
The Scarsdale location of Massage Envy offers 60-minute and 90-minute tailored massages for moms-to-be. Maternity pillows are offered, and massage is done on the side. Must be past first trimester. $140-$210
50 Hamilton St, Dobbs Ferry; 914.409.1900; www.oasiswestchester.com
Oasis offers 60-minute Prenatal and Postnatal Massages to help heal the discomforts of pregnancy. Massage done facedown with cushions. Must be past first trimester. $145
118 Pondfield Rd, Bronxville; 914.361.1277; www.poshbronxville.com
The 60-minute Mummy-to-Be Massage is designed to relax both mom and baby. The prenatal massage table contours to the body. Must be past first trimester. $130
Our four favorite baby shops will outfit your little one for everything from their first trip home to their social media debut.
77 South Greeley Ave, Chappaqua; www.hip-kid.com
hip-kid’s owner, Trish Kallman, does her research before choosing to feature brands, ones that are socially conscious and good for baby (think organic materials and tagless garments). She never compromises on style though, so your baby can crawl cute.
180 Katonah Ave, Katonah; www.andjameskatonah.com
This north-county boutique offers a curated collection of contemporary and classic brands of clothing and accessories, including Bella Bliss, Pink Chicken, and Angel Dear. New items arrive weekly. Monogramming is available, for a bespoke style.
88 Purchase St, Rye; www.sammyandnat.com
Parents-in-the-know flock to this celebrity favorite for classic clothing using the softest pima cotton, so baby is comfortable yet stylish. Their take-me-home sets are popular, making your unique bundle of joy paparazzi-ready for his or her world debut.
18 South Ridge St, Rye Brook; www.shop.lesters.com
New and expectant moms get one-on-one personal service here from specialists who know exactly what baby needs, from cozy swaddle blankets to on-trend onesies.
Local professional photographers to help capture special moments with you and your little one. All three specialize in maternity, newborn, and family photos.
Dobbs Ferry; www.stelmahphoto.com
Port Chester; www.suzanneclairephotography.com
Now that there’s a baby on board, it might be difficult to find time for yourself. Local beauty companies will come straight to your door for some much-needed mom TLC, with safety protocols in place.
Local businesses are helping mamas stay glam without leaving home. When New Rochelle resident Sharice Pegram was nursing her six-month-old baby last year, she looked for a manicure service that would come to her house. After she couldn’t find one, she created ManiPlease (www.maniplease.com) with new mothers in mind. Nail technicians will come to your house and give you a manicure and pedicure with cruelty-free polish.
Other mobile services, which were spawned from the COVID-19 pandemic and are ideal for new moms at home are White Plains- and Rye-based Meg-a-Lashes’ eyelash-extension service and PLUSH Blow’s blow-dry service (PLUSH has multiple county locations, too). GLOW, with multiple county locations, is offering mobile spray-tanning services countywide.