Executive Director/Owner – Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach
Elizabeth Mangum-Sarach is currently on maternity leave as she prepares for the birth of her first born in Austin, TX!
Elizabeth is the Executive Director/Owner of BirthFocus, LLC 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. 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 August 2012, Elizabeth relocated to Austin, Texas where she continues to provide labor support doula services and childbirth education courses to women and their families.
Elizabeth 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 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.
To learn more about Elizabeth’s approach as a labor support doula please read about her on our Austin Doulas page.
Director of Doula Services/New York City – Martina Szarek
As of July 2012, Martina serves as the Director of Doula Services for BirthFocus. In addition to this role, Martina is also a birth doula, a postpartum doula, and a certified lactation counselor. Before finding birth work, Martina supported women and their families as a women’s crisis counselor, creating a calm and safe space and helping women stay comfortable and in control. She applies these skills during labor to make birth a peaceful, empowering, and joyous experience.
She draws from a variety of mind-body practices, such as yoga, tai-chi, meditation and massage, to increase comfort during labor and to help women find their inner peace and strength. She has training in massage and acupressure for labor and delivery and will teach moms and their partners coping techniques and comfort measures. Martina believes that through support and knowledge about the birth process, women have the ability to take control of their experience and that partners have the right to be active participants in birth as part of their journey to parenthood.
She has recently delved even deeper into the world of birth and maternal care by beginning nurse-midwifery coursework. Martina speaks English, Polish, Spanish and basic French and can’t wait to speak with you about your hopes and plans for your birth!
**Martina is also one of BirthFocus’ “placenta ladies” and provides placenta encapsulation services for all clients**
Director of Doula Services/Austin – Caitlin Vestal
Caitlin returned to Austin, Texas in December 2012 after four years in New York City, where she originally joined the BirthFocus team. She became a doula after delving into her career as a yoga teacher and realizing that she was passionate about teaching pregnant women; as soon as she began her DONA training, she knew she’d found her calling. She was inspired to take the leap into doula work after hearing a friend’s birth story that moved her deeply, and she’s honored to be a part of her clients’ own stories. As a long-time student of women’s holistic health, Caitlin trusts in the process of birth and empowers women with information and support to have the kind of birth they want, whatever that may be. She brings a warm and calming presence to labor and delivery and uses her background as a yoga teacher to support her clients before and during childbirth as they transition into their roles as new mamas. Caitlin is a 500-hour RYT and is working toward completing her doula certification through DONA; she speaks French and some German.
Director of Education – Gillian Foreman
As of August 2012, Gillian is serving as the Director of Education at BirthFocus. In this role, she will be coordinating and facilitating our childbirth education courses and providing ongoing continuing education and mentoring to our doulas. In addition to being a DONA trained Birth and Postpartum Doula, Gillian is a Childbirth Educator living and working in the New York birth community and mothering in Inwood. (“Upstate Manhattan” as it were.) Gillian sees birth education and support as the gateways to the best possible beginning for children and families. In 2010 Gillian trained with DONA International and the births she has attended have given her a wide range of experiences to draw from and she is learning more everyday from the amazing mothers and families with whom she works. Gillian is also trained in HypnoBirthing Labor Support and in Neonatal Resuscitation and believes all support people attending births should have a wide range of tools to offer. Further, she’s a Certified Lactation Counselor with a love of lactation, on her path to one day becoming an IBCLC. Gillian has a B.A. from the University of Texas in Arlington in Interior Design from the School of Architecture. In addition to teaching childbirth classes, attending births as a doula, and helping encourage women to breastfeed, she raises her two sons . . . and her husband raises her.
BirthFocus InMotion Coordinator – Sarah Lewin
Sarah is grateful to be part of the Birth Focus community acting as both a birth doula and the coordinator of In Motion, a branch of Birth Focus that connects pregnant teenagers with doulas. Born and raised in New York City, Sarah has been passionate about female embodiment for as long as she can remember. After obtaining her B.A. in Gender Studies with a focus on Women’s Health from Kenyon College, Sarah became committed to supporting women feel empowered in their bodies. Sarah has worked in a variety of settings such as The Body Positive in Berkeley, CA and The New School, conducting group workshops as well as individual clinical work in conjunction with her Master in Social Work from NYU. Sarah was DONA trained in the spring of 2011 and is also in training as a Birth Educator with Lamaze.Sarah is dedicated to helping mother and partners in a way that feels right to them in this transformative life moment. She is calm and open and is excited to offer her care, humor and support. When Sarah is not working you might find her pursuing her passion for movement through yoga and modern dance or cooking up a feast!