MEET THE TEAM
Christine Cunningham (she/her), Founder and Executive Director at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. I am a Registered Social Service Worker and a Certified Perinatal Mental Health Professional. I know what it feels like to suffer with Postpartum Anxiety and Depression because I lived through it after my 3rd child.
It totally sidelined me, and I struggled to cope with my symptoms and to parent my 3 little ones. I also didn't even really know that Postpartum Anxiety was a thing because of a lack of information and resources. Luckily, I was able to recover and be well again.
That experience changed my life for the better, because I decided to go back to school and become a counsellor. After working in mental health and addictions I followed my heart to working with clients in the Perinatal period (trying to get pregnant, currently pregnant, or postpartum) in my private practice. And this led me to establish Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario in order to provide information about Perinatal Health and Wellbeing, community resources, and connection to local supports to everyone throughout Ontario as well as to advocate for improved care of Perinatal Patients. Follow me on Instagram: @perinatalwellbeing_ontario
Karin Thoms (she/her), Peer Support Program Manager at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. After experiencing Perinatal Depression and Anxiety during pregnancy and after having two babies, as well as experiencing a first trimester miscarriage, I decided to leave my career in Human Resources, and dedicate my time to helping parents during the perinatal period. I completed the Peer Support Core Essentials training through Ontario Peer Development Initiative (OPDI) in 2021, and am a proud peer volunteer with Postpartum Support International (PSI) and the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network.
One important thing that helped me cope during my last bout of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety was the support I received in a peer-led Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) support group. Connecting with other parents experiencing Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, and with the help of other medical supports, allowed me to recover from those mental health challenges. Sharing our stories and struggles with people with similar lived experiences is a powerful coping tool that I will forever encourage for the Perinatal Community.
The transition to parenthood, whether it is your first or fifth baby, is challenging. I have made it my mission to make support during the perinatal period accessible to anyone in need. I believe that Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario will help make that possible. Follow me on Instagram: @karin_pwo
Laine Halpern Zisman, PhD (she/her), LGBTQ+ Support Coordinator and Doula at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. Laine is a Toronto-based queer doula who specializes in queer fertility support. She is also a queer culture and communications scholar and has published and taught on a range of topics related to queer theatre & media, activism & trauma, and critical queer feminist theory.
Laine is happy to support anyone in LGBTQ+ communities in finding resources, supports, and local community agencies from fertility planning to the postpartum period. While Laine primarily works with LGBTQ+ communities, she is also happy to answer any questions about doula care during fertility, pregnancy, or postpartum journeys. Follow her on instagram: @queerconceptions.
Nicole McGivern (she/her), Community Outreach Coordinator at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. I am a front-line social services worker that has been working in the field of mental health, addictions and social services for almost 10 years. I have a strong connection and passion to support individuals and families in vulnerable life circumstances. I have worked as a counsellor for addictions and mental health as well as as a support worker in community housing and homelessness services. I currently work for Ontario Works and I hope to be able to bring awareness of low-barrier services to not only our municipality but across the province. I also look forward to talking to many other agencies and hope to make these supports available and easily accessible to anyone in the perinatal period.
I am a mother of two toddlers and I’ve definitely had my fair share of struggles with the challenges and changes parenthood highlights. I see the flaws in our current system related to mental health and wellness around the perinatal time period and am excited to be a part of a shift and change in this area.
I look forward to helping facilitate awareness and grow this community. Follow me on Instagram: @nicole_pwo.
Kat Bayang (she/her), BIPGM Community Outreach Coordinator and Peer Support Volunteer at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. I’m a Filipinx, widowed parent of 3 kids (2 bio/1 bonus) sharing space on Indigenous territories colonially known as Toronto. I am incredibly passionate about perinatal health care and mental wellness, especially for racialized and marginalized communities. I have experience in supporting folks in the perinatal period as a peer supporter for Postpartum Support International and the Breastfeeding Network, as well as a trauma informed peer supporter for survivors of sexual violence. Most recently, I trained as a midwife at X (Ryerson) University and am familiar with the clinical care provided in the perinatal period and aware of the mental health challenges pregnant people and parents face in this vulnerable life stage. Subjects affecting perinatal mental health that are close to my heart include grief and loss, assisted reproductive technology (ART), relationships, sex and intimacy, blending bonus families, self-advocacy in perinatal care, bodyfeeding challenges, newcomer resourcing and decolonizing parenting. I look forward to connecting! Follow me on Instagram: @kat_pwo