Lifestyle & Parenting

Canada’s First Postnatal Retreat Is On A Mission To Revolutionize Postnatal Care

February 20, 2024

Alma Care, Canada’s first premium postnatal retreat and resource, now open at the Kimpton St. George in downtown Toronto. Inspired by traditional practices of postpartum confinement from across the world, married with modernized programming developed by a team of medical and wellness professionals, Alma Care offers a holistic approach to postnatal recovery that prioritizes rest, community and learning. It’s truly groundbreaking in a country where the need for more comprehensive postnatal care is urgent and preventative. We chatted with Alma Care co-founder and CEO Hana McConville to learn more. —Noa Nichol

Hi Hana! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.

Hi! I’m the Co-Founder & CEO of Alma Care. About 10 years ago, I Co-Founded Greenhouse Juice, which I was still active in until deciding to start this new venture with Alma Care. I have two kids, Nolan (2.5 years old) and Riley (10 months old).

When and why did you launch Alma Care? What niche were/are you aiming to fill? What inspired you?

We launched Alma Care officially at the end of November, but have been building the brand for about a year. Our mission is to revolutionize postpartum care across Canada – and I guess that was really our “why” for launching the business. There is definitely a gap in postpartum care in this country and we wanted to shine a light on that. My mum is from Singapore, so I was really familiar with the concept of “sitting the month”, which really focuses on resting and recovering for the first 40 days post-birth. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do this with both my children, and I really enjoyed my postpartum experience. Seeing the stark contrast between how I experience postpartum and how many of my friends experienced it was really eye-opening. There is a lot of pressure to “bounce back” after birth and a real lack of education around the importance of recovery postpartum. The conversation is definitely changing with a lot of great voices in the space and we started Alma Care to really move that needle and bring a concept that is commonplace in other parts of the world to Canada—a postpartum retreat where families can go to rest, recover, learn and enjoy.

What products/services do you offer, and what makes them unique?

We offer an all-inclusive postpartum retreat that includes 24-hour support from our expert care team, three nutritious meals a day geared towards recovery and milk production, postpartum supplies for mom, supplies for baby and daily workshops/education opportunities. This is the first of its kind in Canada. On top of that we also offer at-home care which aims to bring the Alma Care retreat experience into families’ homes. We aim to offer more than an extra pair of hands when we offer at-home care, by bringing our four pillars of care – rest, recover, learn and enjoy – into the home. We are also building our free resources library which focuses on educating families on the postpartum experience. Our goal is to ultimately make these resources widely accessible and support all Canadians in learning more about postpartum care.

What are some facts about postpartum, that may be surprising to some?

In Canada, approximately 23% of mothers experience postpartum depression. That’s nearly 1 in every 4 and while the conversation is happening, our cultural approach to proactive care leaves something to be desired.

I think people would be surprised to know that about ⅓ of births are delivered via C-section, which requires a different approach to recovery and can create its own unique challenges – especially if you have other children at home that are vying for your attention.

Who do you have on your team? What do they bring to the table?

We have a small but very mighty team.

Melissa Gallagher is my Co-Founder and COO. With a wealth of experience in early stage wellness brands, focusing on marketing, retail strategy, and execution. Melissa’s obsessive about growth and is passionate about revolutionizing postpartum care. Not only that, but she also wears the hat of a mom to Olivia (22 months) and is a partner at a boutique women’s only fitness studio here in Toronto.

Next is Holly Orlesky, our Director of Care, a seasoned Labour and Delivery nurse with an impressive 20+ years of expertise. Having delivered and cared for over 20,000 newborns, Holly’s extensive experience spans renowned hospitals like North York General, Oakville Trafalgar, and Joseph Brant. Her deep understanding ensures unparalleled care for mothers and newborns alike.

Linda Nguyen, our Director of Guest Experience, is a professional who seamlessly transitioned from Early Childhood Development to redefine hospitality. Linda played a pivotal role in launching Toronto’s first high-tech, low-touch boutique hotel, mastering the art of delivering true guest experience service.

Giulia Piccoli, our Care Team Lead and is a relentless advocate for maternal wellness. As an experienced Birth and Postpartum Doula, Giulia has been a pillar of support for countless families during childbirth and the postpartum period. Backed by a background in Biopsychology and a specialization in developmental psychology, her expertise is profound.

And that’s not all—we’ve curated a team of seasoned advisors, featuring the likes of Dr. Dan Nayot, Dr. Kathryn Dundas, Dr. Danny Kreichman, and fertility acupuncturist Anne Matthews. Their collective knowledge forms the backbone of our approach, ensuring that you receive nothing short of exceptional expertise in the realm of maternal wellness. With this team at the helm, excellence is not just a goal; it’s our commitment.

How do you marry traditional postpartum practices with modernized programming? Some examples?

Outside of Canada, traditional postpartum care practices focus heavily on the mothers’ recovery. We’re inspired by those practices – specifically in Asia, where ‘sitting the month’ is the standard. We understand that this might not be available to all parents, based on a number of different factors. We offer a ‘modern confinement’ approach, that provides the same focused care for a shorter period of time – or in the comfort of your own home. This provides flexibility for the family and greater accessibility, generally.

Why is this so groundbreaking?

In Canada, many women are discharged from the hospital after 24 hours and immediately turn their sole focus to the baby. There’s often an association with guilt, if you ask for help or focus on yourself during the ‘fourth trimester’.  By changing the way we think about the postpartum period and normalizing extended care for Mama, we’re enabling families to thrive both in the short and long term.

How does “good” postpartum care benefit both parent(s) and child(ren)?

‘Good’ postpartum care focuses on 4 key pillars: rest, recovery, learning and enjoyment. Supporting the new parent in rest and recovery can help prevent complications and allow them to be more present with their family. One of the reasons the Chinese believe in sitting the month is not just for immediate recovery but longer term benefits – like avoiding arthritis later in life. Education resources that are made available not only to the new mother, but to the supporting parent not only builds confidence in their skills, but also allows the baby to more easily thrive. When the first three pillars are executed well, the enjoyment comes naturally. 


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