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 establishing Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario in order to provide low-cost/free therapy and peer supports to people struggling with their mental health in the Perinatal period. Connect with 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 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.
Anneke van den Berg (she/her), Peer Supervision Coordinator at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. Anneke is a mother of 4, who made her home in Canada over 15 years ago. Currently, she lives in Ottawa on the unceded and never surrendered Territory of the Anishinaabe Algonquin Nation. Originally from the Netherlands, adjusting to life in Canada was difficult and lonely, but it has become home, kind of.
Mental health has been a struggle for her throughout all her pregnancies and postpartum, partly due to isolation and being an immigrant. Using these experiences to relate to others, parents specifically, has given her a sense of purpose and helped her healing process.
Since arriving in Canada, Anneke has volunteered actively with a wide variety of organizations. About 5 years ago, she started working professionally and now she works as a Public Educator and Facilitator and Parent Coach, in addition to her role at Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario. In her work, Anneke has worked primarily with immigrant populations (especially of Arab descent), young parents and vulnerable families. Anneke is passionate about serving all parents, taking into consideration that the health care system in Ontario remains systemically racist, ableist, and not inclusive. As a cis-gendered white woman, Anneke is aware of her privilege and the unlearning she needs to do in order to help facilitate change.
In her free time, Anneke enjoys spending time with her family, exploring new trails and reading many, MANY books. She dreams of speaking Arabic fluently (on the way!), world peace (like everyone else), 4-day work weeks and owning a cottage in lush woods without bugs. And no climate change.... Definitely, no climate change.
You can reach Anneke by email at email@example.com.
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
Zeina Rashid (they/them), as a student in the social service program Zeina is passionate about helping others. Their studies and experience have taught them about the many issues facing individuals and communities. They've also had the opportunity to work with people from diverse backgrounds, which has broadened their perspective and deepened their commitment to social justice and advocacy. With a particular interest in perinatal mental health, Zeina chose Perinatal Wellbeing Ontario to complete their placement. When they are not studying or volunteering, Zeina loves spending time with their family, exploring the outdoors, and practicing mindfulness. Ultimately Zeina's goal is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of parents and families during some of the most critical moments of their lives. Instagram: @zeina_pwo