A registered nurse who’s also certified as a nurse-midwife and a lactation consultant, Sara Pearce has been working with mothers and babies since 1995—and saw that new moms needed more help.
“In obstetrics, all we really focus on is the birth,” she says. “Health care providers in the U.S. don’t usually continue their interest into the postpartum period. That’s too bad, because many new moms get home from the hospital and realize that compared to what comes next, the birth was actually the easy part.”
In 2007, Pearce went to Boston to visit her sister, who was taking childbirth classes through a company called Isis Parenting. “I went along and I saw that it was this amazing place,” Pearce recalls. “They had classes and support and products—everything a new mom needed in one retail center. I came back home and said to my husband, ‘We’ve gotta get this going.’”
Pearce contacted Isis Parenting President and CEO Johanna Myers McChesney, who guided Pearce as she duplicated the Isis business model in the Twin Cities. In January 2010, Pearce opened Amma Maternity, an Edina-based company that she describes as a “comprehensive resource for new and expecting parents, supporting every stage of pregnancy and new motherhood through classes, services, and retail products.”
Following the Isis model, Amma Maternity partnered with a hospital, in this case Park Nicollet’s Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, where Pearce had previously taught prenatal and new-mom classes. The difference is that new and soon-to-be parents now can take classes at Pearce’s cozy shop, rather than in an impersonal hospital space.
About 50 percent of students in Amma Maternity’s prenatal classes are Park Nicollet patients; the rest have come via word of mouth. Amma offers a variety of classes and parenting groups, as well as “hand-selected and mother-approved” baby care supplies, breast pumps, and other products.
Pearce and Amma Maternity Director of Operations Terri Hafner employ a staff of 11 part-time instructors. “We’ve been in the black every single month except for the first,” says Pearce, who has fielded inquiries about expanding Amma’s franchise elsewhere locally.