UPDATE: Amanda and Mary will be working together for birth services through April 2016. Thereafter, Brandy Ferner & Lauren Flanagan will join Amanda and Your Birth Team!
As 2014 draws to a close, I find myself reliving some amazing moments from the year in my head. Only today did I realize that I did more to better my business & myself in the past 12 months than I had done in the entire 2+ years as a doula before that combined. Granted, I was a full time college student and full time nonprofit employee before 2014, I think I unconsciously decided that I was going to make up for the slow start by doing as much as humanely possible this year.
In 2014: I finalized my certifications through DONA for both birth and postpartum doula work; I became a Lactation Educator and Counselor through UCSD; I became a Placenta Specialist through Full Circle Placenta; I completed an internship through South Coast Midwifery to gain more experience in the out-of-hospital realm; I became a Childbirth Educator with an ICEA training by Ana Paula Markel; I built a website (Crazy!); I became a birth assistant for Beach Cities Midwifery. All of this while also actively taking on clients, teaching prenatal education classes all over Orange County, and working at a maternity shelter. Even as I list these, I know I sound like a crazy person!
It's been the busiest, most amazing year of my life, by far. None of it would have been possible without support from my husband and my local doula community, for which I am forever grateful. But the one accomplishment not yet listed (and the thing I believe will prove to be the best advancement yet) was finding a birth doula to partner with. I had only given a partnership minimal thought before I met Mary McDonald. Now, I can't imagine going forward as a birth doula without her by my side. We offer a lot to our clients as a team because we have our own respective strengths that we’re bringing to the table. To help explain what we think working together will do for us, for our clients, and for our community, we've answered some common questions we've been getting at interviews together to help people understand the partnership and get to know us a bit!
What similarities help you work as business partners?
Amanda: Mary & I are both committed to our work. And we’re obviously passionate about our chosen field. Whether we’re helping a family in labor, prepping a placenta, or inspecting a car seat for safety, we’re dedicated to helping families find solid information and gain access to support from the time they find out they're expecting to the point in the postpartum when they feel confident in their parenting.
Mary: I have found, through talking with Amanda, that we are very similar in the way we interact with others, especially with clients. We provide a calm and comforting presence for everyone involved so we can all enjoy our time together. On a fun note, we also love Disneyland trips, which probably tells you a lot about the fact that we believe in having a healthy balance between commitments to our work and enjoying our lives. And healthy doulas make for great support people.
What is your communication style with clients?
Amanda: Our natural communication styles vary, though both of us are very approachable and open people. Mary has such a strong focus on interpersonal communication; she’s warm and kind and comes off as if she genuinely cares about you (because she does!). She’s also soft-spoken in a very calming way.
Mary: Amanda is a great communicator. I admire her for the fact that she often finds the perfect words to get her point across or comfort others. One of my deciding factors when choosing Amanda as a business partner was how quickly her response is to calls, texts, and emails. If I can reach my partner quickly then I know our clients will be able to as well.
What is your doula partner's best attribute?
Amanda: It's definitely how caring she is about others-her family, her friends, and our clients.
Mary: Amanda is always serving others. She’s super organized and reliable too.
How will working with another doula affect how you support birth clients?
Amanda: I believe that working with a doula partner will help me find a balanced approach to client interaction. Birth is often hard on the doula in similar ways that it’s hard on the family she serves; 35-hour births can wear her down physically while difficult decisions or unforeseen outcomes can take an emotional toll. Sometimes the doula needs to step back and reevaluate to make sure she’s helping clients to the best of her abilities. Whether it be last minute research articles, anecdotal pump-me-up stories, or just a calm voice on the other end of the line, Mary will be able to help me step back and gain perspective when I need it most. This means I'll be able to better support clients in the moment.
Mary: I'm looking forward to knowing that I will have another person's brain to pick whenever it may be needed. Having a partner that my clients already know and trust puts me at ease and it lightens the load of finding the right back up doula for each couple. This also makes our clients feel more secure, knowing that even if a doula is sick or has an emergency, the other doula they know and trust is waiting in the wings.
What experience are you bringing into this doula partnership?
Amanda: I have worked with women and their families almost daily for over 3 years in the nonprofit and private realm. I have helped prepare over 150 families in the prenatal period through classes, attended over 30 births, and served over 200 families in the postpartum period as a doula and homeless shelter employee.
Mary: I have attended 20 amazing births as a doula and midwifery assistant. I also bring into our partnership my first-hand knowledge of pregnancy, birth, and parenthood. My husband and I have 3 children, aged 15, 7, & 7 months. We have experienced hospital, birth center, and home births ourselves, so I understand the processes and procedures of each setting well.
What will you miss about being a solo doula?
Amanda: The only thing I’ll miss about working solo with birth clients is being on my own schedule and the immense flexibility that comes with that. I’ll take a routine schedule any day though to work with Mary!
Mary: I'm not sure if there's anything I will miss. I'm really looking forward to what this partnership will mean for our clients!
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