Owner, Clinic Director, Midwife
What is your background?
I am originally from the East Coast where I went to Tufts University and received my undergraduate degree in Child Psychology. From there I worked in the corporate world in San Francisco and soon became frustrated with how big business worked, and thought to myself, “There has to be another way to do business”. Cue life journey… I left the states for about 5 years to live, work and travel all over the globe, including Africa, Europe, England, The Middle East and Australia. Upon returning to the states I went back to school to become a National and California Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac. & NAACOM Dipl. Ac.) and National Licensed Herbalist (NAACOM Dipl. Herbs). While training to become a midwife I also gained additional therapeutic skills to support trauma and anxieties as a graduate of Ray Castellino’s Pre and Perinatal Psychology Foundation Training. In my 17 years in Los Angeles I have worked a plethora of jobs, including many years as a birth and post partum doula, as well as co-creating the inception of other thriving birth businesses in Los Angeles. In 2008 I was given what my brother calls my ‘Ph.D. Thesis’ and I applied all I knew about western medicine and eastern philosophies on a humbling journey through breast cancer.
23 years after leaving San Francisco I feel like I have come full circle. I am the same, yet very different. I am excited to be offering another choice for family support to the Los Angeles community.
Why did you become a midwife?
I did not seek out midwifery; rather, midwifery came to me.
In May 2003 while working as an Acupuncturist I started to get dream after dream where I extended out my hands and caught babies as they emerged from their moms. Each time, as the baby landed in my hands, I would look upward with confusion and say, “I don’t know what to do?”. I was told by a seasoned doula in our community, Anna Verwaal, that I had received “The Calling” and it was my destiny to become a midwife. Midwifery certainly wasn’t anywhere close to what I ‘planned’ for my life – yet, it is the singular greatest thing that has ever happened to me.
I am that person who used to think that birthing at home was ‘crazy’. I am that person who educated herself and learned that a birth outside of a hospital is different than a birth inside a hospital. I am that person who knows that not only is birth a normal, physiological process in the body; but it can also be a powerful, transformative experience.
Can you share a bit about your philosophy as a midwife?
By allowing the babies and families to teach me I have developed my own unique style of support. Through experience I have learned that when parents choose a safe and supportive environments the births were less dramatic. When the overwhelming feelings that tend to be present at such an intense moment are acknowledged, the whole room settles and relaxes- creating more space to birth with ease. The more room that is given for the parents to trust their instincts, the more oxytocin in the room. And, if the parents can be shown how to connect to the baby while he or she is on the inside, then they will be able to transition into a healthy relationship and know what to do when baby is on the outside.
Each birth is unique and sometimes the birth doesn’t look remotely like what the parents have planned. Yet time and time again I witness my mammas find the inner strength to choose with clarity, so they are able to surrender into what is present, and feel good about their choice. To me, that is what empowerment is.
For me midwifery is not a job, it is my spiritual practice. And GraceFull isn’t just a birthing center, it is an extension of my home.
What are you doing when you are not at a birth?
Outside of the birthing room you can find me behind the lens of my camera, writing (where I am honored to be part of Medium.com‘s Culture Club Colection), lovin’ on my dog Shummie, shopping at vintage stores to support my cashmere habit and hanging out at friend’s houses in their kitchen gabbing while they cook for me (I don’t cook, but I love to eat homemade food!!).
What is my favorite baked good?
Anything from France (because they use real butter!).
Could you share your favorite quote?
Sure. A wise friend by the name of Stacey Marshall once said to me, “You gotta take all the steps in life, but you just can’t hang out on the stoop too long!”
Elizabeth is the founder of GraceFull as well Clinic Director and one of our midwives. She also co-facilitates childbirth education classes and various workshops.