Finding Community Support Postpartum in the Pandemic

Kith + Kin in Brewerytown, Philadelphia might look like just another indoor play space, albeit an incredibly zen and Pinterest-worthy one. But its founders, Eden Coffey and Jess Jones, have a loftier purpose in mind. Like EmmaWell, Kith + Kin took root in 2019 out of a desire to support postpartum moms and their mental health.

After bonding over the intensity of becoming new mothers and the struggle to find connection with others in this stage of life, Eden and Jess put their heads together to create a welcoming social hub where both little ones and parents could unwind and find a new best friend. Besides being a playful gathering spot, Kith + Kin opened its doors to the community with an accessible array of toddler classes, parent workshops, and support groups.

The specter of COVID-19 could have made their dreams come crashing down, but Eden and Jess swiftly pivoted and restructured their business for the new climate. Though their play space is currently restricted to small groups and private parties, their social calendar is packed with virtual offerings for new parents and outdoor family music jams in real life. Between juggling a newborn baby and a new normal for the business, Eden gave us the rundown on her personal experience and Kith + Kin’s evolution in the pandemic.

Congratulations on your new baby! What was it like both being pregnant and having a baby during a pandemic?

Besides the initial fear and anxiety of the unknown and what it would mean for me, my family, and my business, I really tried to take advantage of what was handed to me: time, and lots of it. My older son was out of school, so we got to spend the last four months of my pregnancy together - time that I would have never gotten with him - and for that I’m so grateful.

I had my baby at home under the care of a midwife and it was a wonderful, intimate experience with just my son and husband. It was amazing to be in the safety of my own home with my support system - an experience that I know so many birthing people can’t have in hospitals right now with the Covid restrictions.

Compared to your firstborn, how has the postpartum period been different this time around?

So different! I had bad postpartum anxiety after my first son. It took me months to feel comfortable even taking a walk or drive with him, thinking something could go wrong.

This time, I have so much more confidence, but I also know my triggers, and I’ve decided to face them head on. I was also more open to help, and my support system really showed up!

One thing I didn’t plan or prepare for was meals in the immediate weeks postpartum, but friends (even some I haven’t seen in years) were dropping food at my door almost daily. It was AMAZING.

What are your favorite things to do with your toddler?

I love hikes in the woods with my boys. The baby usually naps while I wear him, and I have the best conversations with my older son while we hike. Something about walking together and being in nature brings out the best conversations.

Do you have any advice for parents balancing the needs of a baby and older child, as you currently are?

That’s a hard one, and one I am definitely still working on. The first couple weeks, I thought I would never learn to balance my attention between both of them. It made my brain hurt to try.

But every day gets easier. And even if I just catch five minutes of alone time with my older son while the baby is occupied, it feels like an accomplishment and I get the sense that he feels the connection too and it is filing his cup as much as mine. So that’s my advice: take it one day at a time! Your family will eventually fall into a natural groove without it being forced.

What is Kith + Kin's birth story?

Jess and I met as new moms. We didn’t know many other parents in our neighborhood and instantly clicked. Parenthood became instantly lighter because we had each other for the ups and downs.

We dreamed of creating a community space where parents could find each other and access resources to make their journey a little bit easier. We also wanted to make a stellar play space for the kids, a real respite from city living.

Once we found the space, things started unfolding quickly. We sought out experts in the field of maternal and infant care and development, and we built up a team of providers ready