Flash back to nearly 11 years ago when MP was a new mom. Her go-to resources included a few friends who recently had babies, babycenter.com, a collection of parenting books on the bedside table and her obstetrician. If an event existed to expose her to everything her community had to offer new parents, she would have jumped at the chance to go.
These days, Maine parents can connect with the resources they need most and have a fun day out to boot. The Portland Mom & Baby Expo, which is now in its second year, boasts nearly 100 local vendors with a focus on new and expectant parents. Visiting families can learn from parenting experts, find information on mom and baby fitness classes, discuss reliable childcare, meet family photographers and discover many more valuable services.
Darcy Sauers, the founder of the Mom and Baby Expo, is the mother of three children ages 8, 11 and 13. Much like MP, Darcy didn’t know much about the resources available in her community when she first became a mom. Other then the help of her parents and her husband, she was completely on her own. Darcy says she became obsessed with the idea of sharing everything she experienced after the birth of her first child. “I was blown away how hard parenting was, and I wanted to tell everyone I knew what I’d learned in those first few months.”
Darcy, whose background is in advertising and marketing, became so intent on helping other mothers, she decided to become a postpartum doula. The training took nearly a year, and before long, Darcy became a helpful resource to moms in her community. “I start by asking what the mother needs most and usually it’s a nap,” she says. “But I also help with laundry, putting dishes away, feeding techniques (she’s also a lactation counselor) and generally tending to a mother’s needs.” Since she started her doula business, Darcy has helped over a hundred mothers begin their parenting journey.
“If you were a mother a hundred years ago,” she says, “the women in your village would come to help you with meals, infant care, and the like. It’s not that way now, but I really wanted to recreate that feeling.”
Her interest in connecting parents to more community resources led Darcy and her husband, Jonathan, to another new venture. In 2010, the couple took over a small, New Hampshire based event geared towards wellness. What started as a mid-week, low key day for stay-at-home moms and local businesses to connect, eventually grew into the Seacoast Mom & Baby Expo, a weekend event with 60 vendors. Six years later, the couple decided to create a similar event in Portland. “Portland is made up of so many young families and it’s such a cool, active community. We thought it would be the perfect place to hold a Mom and Baby Expo,” Darcy says.
As expected, the premiere Portland Expo, which took place in 2016, was a hit with local parents and vendors. This year, Darcy is especially excited about the addition of baby wearing expert and founder of Wrapsody, Kristi Hayes-Devlin. Kristi will be on hand to help moms with their baby carriers, and a group called The Southern Maine Babywearers will offer a lending library of carriers to try.
In addition to babywearing, parents can take advantage of seminars that range in subjects from getting your baby to sleep, finding time to devote to yourself, and green cleaning at home. For expectant parents, the Maine State Bureau of Highway Safety will also be on hand to offer car seat safety tips.
It’s clear that Darcy has thought of everything when it comes to this event. There’s inexpensive, valet parking for parents, a stroller-friendly environment, and many of the vendors will have crafts and small projects on hand to keep the kids busy. Portland Public Library will have a book mobile outside on Friday and local publisher Islandport Press will have a story corner inside on Saturday. There’s even a quiet nook for parents to feed and change their little ones.
When MP asks Darcy to take her through a day at the Expo, she says, “Parents come for the day with their children and friends. They enjoy lunch, shop and learn so much at the seminars. It really is a celebratory event.”
Thanks to our new friend and sponsor, we have 4 sets of tickets to the Portland Mom and Baby Expo! Simply comment below and you’ll be entered to win. Contest ends Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at midnight EST. Good luck!
Portland Mom & Baby Expo
Portland Expo Center
239 Park Avenue
Friday, May 5: Noon-4:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 6: 10-4:00 p.m.