What is Mom-Boss Monday?
It is a series of interviews with some of the best mom-bosses around! We are going to find out what businesses moms are running, how they are managing being the boss of a household and of a business, and all the things that inspire these moms to keep being amazing.
Without further ado, I’m excited to present the fourth mom-boss in the series!
An Interview With Lisa McPherson Birth Doula
Lisa McPherson is a mom to four kids – 2 girls and 2 boys, a Type 1 Diabetic, an advocate for women’s health rights, and a full-time certified birth doula running her business to support and empower women in their maternal health and parenting journey!
Our shared love of horses and all things farm animal related brought Lisa and I together as children. When we got older we both attended Iowa State University and even lived together for a while. Lisa has always had a compassionate soul and been willing to speak up for what she believed in. I’m so excited to share with you her journey to motherhood that led to her to a business she runs with passion and care.
Lisa – It’s amazing to talk with you! Our kids are all growing so fast – can you help me out? How many kiddos do you have and what are their ages?
I have four kids! My oldest is a girl who is 10, my second is a boy and he is almost 8 and he is super excited about that, my third is a boy who is 4 – who will be 5 before we know it, and my fourth is almost two! We have a lot of birthdays coming up!
Lisa and I lived together for part of her first pregnancy and I have to admit it blows my mind it has been ten years already since Lisa’s motherhood journey began. She seemed like a natural since day one and watching her family grow with her husband Heath has been a true joy.
So, Lisa, I know it is the experiences of your own births that led you to become a Certified Birth Doula, would you mind sharing your experience with us?
My first two births were very medically managed. I was pretty young when I was pregnant with my first and I had also grown up as a Type-1 Diabetic. Basically, I had gone to doctors my whole life and always been under the impression that if you want what is best you do what your doctor says and you don’t really ask any questions. I am lucky, I have had great doctors, but I still wasn’t educated in how to really build a relationship with my doctors or how to feel comfortable asking questions when I wasn’t comfortable with what was happening.
The general ‘rule book’ at the time of my oldest child’s birth was that as a Type-1 Diabetic you get induced by 39 weeks. Well, it was near Christmas time and things and I ended up being induced before 39 weeks. My body wasn’t ready for that. It made for a rough delivery that I just didn’t walk away from feeling the best. Yet, I was still young and just figured that’s how things were for everyone and how they always would be.
With my second I did some more research. I started to hear about Doulas and different approaches to birth. However, we had just moved back to rural Iowa and I automatically assumed there would be no Doulas available to me. During the induction there were complications, the baby wasn’t handling it well, and we ended up with a c-section. I think when we left the hospital with him I knew I wanted more children but I also knew that the way we had done it with the first two wasn’t how it was going to happen. Something had to change.
So was that when you really got serious about finding a Doula?
Yes! I went home and immediately googled and began searching for a Doula in my area and managed to find one. I called her right away and said I wanted to talk with her. That really started the education portion for me. We weren’t planning another baby for several years but that got the ball rolling. I was introduced to Hypnobirthing which is a childbirth education class I am certified to teach now. Suddenly, everything clicked. While I wish I had this information with my first two births..the experiences I had with those first two babies has made me an even stronger and more well rounded Doula and advocate now.
Was your third birth a lot different than your first two?
It was completely different! I was still a Type-1 Diabetic, I was still dealing with all the same medical concerns but had a night and day different experience. I also got to have the Vaginal Birth After C-Section (VBAC) that I desired. It really spoke to me about the importance of having the right people on your side through your entire pregnancy and delivery experience. I knew I wanted to give that opportunity to other women!
How was the VBAC experience?
It was amazing. It was empowering. The funny thing is I had the exact same doctor for my third delivery that I had with my other two. Yet, here we were with a completely different relationship once I learned how to stand up for myself, communicate with my doctor, ask questions, and state my needs.
Is that what you are hoping to help other women with?
That’s a huge part of what I do. I help moms or moms-to-be come up with how THEY want their birth to be. Do things always go exactly to plan? Nope – it’s birth! Yet, I am there to give them the tools to speak up, to taylor their experience, and to know the rights they have when in labor.
The truth is, most care providers want to give mothers the experience they want. Yet if the care provider doesn’t know what a mom wants, they have nothing to go off except what they decide in the moment. I love helping build that team between provider and mother.
On top of that I also teach techniques for during labor to make things more comfortable and I help dads! Sometimes dads feel left out of the equation or aren’t sure how best to support their partner in this labor experience and I can be there to help facilitate that.
What kinds of training did you have to have before you could tell people that you are certified in this line of work?
Well, because I like to wear a lot of hats I’m actually a Certified Birth Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Certified Lactation Counselor.
That makes sense! Moms often need all three of those things at once so it is amazing they can get support in all those areas from one trusted source!
Exactly! As far as training goes, there are no national requirements but I felt it was important to have a professional business. I’m certified through DONA International and so there is a 3 day very base training that you start with but then you also have to have 3 certifying births with set criteria. I had to do write ups on births and get reviews from the midwives and OBs of my work. Plus there are a lot of other trainings and hours to go through to get your certification. It is a lot of work but so far every hour has been worth it.
Did you already have all four of your kids when you were going through training?
Nope! I finished up my certification right after my youngest was born. I was working full time at another job, doing my training, raising three kids, and pregnant. It was crazy but good.
Now I’m able to work very part time for my previous job helping teach some foods classes but mostly able to focus on my business and being a mom!
Tell me the good stuff! What has been most rewarding so far?
That moment where you are with a mom who is in labor and you can feel her suddenly realize that her body is doing this – it is bringing a baby into the world – and she really can do this! It is amazing every single time. Especially with first time moms.
You’re not just birthing a baby. You’re also birthing a mother. It’s a true privilege.
I know you, and that you love all your clients, but do you have one you feel most connected to?
Oh..wow..I think it would be my VBAC moms. It takes a lot of courage to walk into a doctor’s office after a c-section and say you want to do something different. Something that not everyone approves of. You really have to believe in yourself.
I really just want all moms to feel like they have options – options within their pregnancy, with their delivery, with how they care for their babies.
What has been hard for you with this business?
Like other moms you have interviewed it’s always a struggle to make sure to balance time. Especially in this business..I can’t tell people when they can’t go into labor! I try to only take on two clients per month by due date because I don’t want to over book myself and I also want to do my best to attend each birth and give that personal touch! I do have back up Doulas who are fantastic but I feel like I want to do everything I can to be the one at the birth, even if that means keeping client numbers in check.
Has starting this business influenced your parenting at all?
I definitely talk to my kids about consent a lot! My experiences, my training, it has pointed out to me how often women are not given the opportunity to consent to what happens to them in life. I think that has led me to really talk with all my kids more and more about the rights they have when it comes to their bodies and their lives and also the rights other people have in regards to consent.
It breaks my heart to know that women are out there not knowing they can say no. This isn’t directed at care providers either, its a cultural thing we have created in a lot of ways!
If you sat down across from another woman who said that she wanted to have her own business …what advice would you give?
If she was looking to become a Doula, or any job really, I would say don’t be afraid to charge your worth! This job does make you feel good and that is valuable but this job is emotional, hard, time intensive work. Your work is worthwhile. Don’t forget that. If you are like me and need this job to also provide an income, then don’t be afraid to ask for what you are worth. It’s okay – you will still help people and you’ll put food on your table. You aren’t scamming people in this industry if you are a trained professional by asking to be paid your value.
My other piece of advice is to go easy on yourself. Don’t expect perfection from yourself. You are learning and growing. The mothers are learning and growing. Keep your chin up!
To close things out, what do you hope your kids see when they look at you as a business woman and Doula?
I hope they see someone who believes in what they are doing and values themself and the people they work with. I hope that they can see that you can find joy in your work and it doesn’t have to always be about what job brings in the big bucks. My oldest is pretty passionate about my business and what I do. I love seeing her begin to understand what my job is but also the heart of women’s issues that we discuss as a result of this job as well.