Executive Director/Owner – Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach (located in Austin)
Elizabeth is the Executive Director/Owner of BirthFocus, LLC. She holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Michigan (her home state) and has been certified via Lamaze as a Childbirth Educator. She is a Birth Doula Trainer through Dona International, a Labor Support Doula, and is trained in Hypnobirthing and Karen Brody’s Rock Your Birth childbirth education model. She is the former Director of Maternal Health and Parenting Services at Inwood House, a non-profit that offers services to pregnant and parenting teens, and is responsible for developing their doula and childbirth education programs.
In 2004 she trained with Ilana Stein, BirthFocus founder and DONA International Birth Doula Trainer, to become a labor support doula. In 2007 Ilana took Elizabeth under her wing and taught her about running the practice and mentoring doulas. In 2008, when Ilana passed away, she became the full-time Director of BirthFocus and the Executive Director/Owner in 2011.
In April 2011 Elizabeth returned from a year-long sabbatical during which she and her husband rode their BMW R80GS motorcycle from London, England to Capetown, South Africa. She spearheaded a project studying childbirth practices – via interviews with midwives, doulas, doctors, and pregnant women in over 15 countries – and is in the process of writing “Nomadic Birth”. Through a collaborative effort with Village Birth International she led a training for 12 midwives in Gulu, Uganda and attended to laboring women in Uganda and South Africa.
In August 2012, Elizabeth relocated to Austin, Texas where she continues to provide labor support doula services and childbirth education to women and their families. In May 2013 Elizabeth gave birth to her daughter, Cora Claire-Elizabeth, at home and is thrilled to continue to offer support to women and their partners in this adventure called birth!
To learn more about Elizabeth’s approach as a labor support doula please read about her on our Austin Doulas page.
**Elizabeth is currently on maternity leave as she awaits for the arrival of her second baby due in early February 2015**
BirthFocus NYC Director and Tier 6 Doula
Sara has had a passion for birth and babies for as long as she can remember. She always knew her calling was to “birth” babies, her own and others. She attended her first birth in 1993 and it confirmed to her, this is what she was made to do. After personally dealing with infertility and an incompetent cervix, which required extensive hospital stays and interventions, she was blessed to have three successful pregnancies, including a set of twins, totaling four preemie yet quite healthy biological children. After the months she spent in the hospital during her pregnancies, Sara acquired a unique ability to be an advocate and to speak “hospitalese”. In her 20 years of practice she has attended nearly every type of birth imaginable from home birth, to hospital induction with preemptive epidural, to emergency c-section and vbac. Her mantra is “this is YOUR birth, not the doula’s, not the nurse’s, not the doctor’s”. She takes her time getting to know you, your hopes and dreams about this baby and this birth, and works with you to make sure that, if at all possible, your birth goes the way you hope it will. If it doesn’t she has been along side you helping you to understand and make informed decisions. She has welcomed 100+ new souls on their birth day and spent countless hours with the newly formed families helping with everything from Mom’s recovery and breastfeeding to sleep issues into the first years. She has a gentle, calm, and laid back demeanor that brings peace into the room. She and her family moved to Brooklyn from Minneapolis in mid-2010 and she is excited to be part of BirthFocus and to serve families in the NYC community.
BirthFocus ATX Director and Tier 1 Doula
Andrea was raised in Savannah, GA but has spent the last decade on the west coast, where she finally found her calling as a massage therapist and doula. Working with her hands and putting people at ease has always come naturally to her. Since the age of 11, steady baby-sitting and nanny work has filled Andrea with a love for children and a strong sense of purpose – being a woman and helping other women. While still in massage school, her best friend decided to have a homebirth and introduced Andrea to the world of doulas and midwives. Something clicked, the stars aligned and she found the path she had been searching for. She promptly completed her DONA certified training with a wonderful group called Bini Birth in Los Angeles and has been working ever since. She attended three births back-to-back in L.A. and decided to pack up and move to Austin, where she could really put down some roots and make a difference in a tight-knit community. Andrea is passionate when it comes to educating women about their bodies, the wonders of childbirth and the choices they have. She strives to empower them and their partners so they can have the birth they want and deserve.
Her favorite quote that encompasses her doula and massage work is:
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh