We had the good fortune of connecting with Amber Berry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amber, can you talk us a bit about why you love what you do?
I love what I do because because I truly believe the Midwives Model of Care (https://mana.org/about-midwives/midwifery-model) is the best option for low-risk women’s and baby’s overall health and experience! It is such a joy to get to know families throughout their pregnancy and prenatal care, and then get to share in their joy during those precious moments as they find strength they didn’t know they had during labor, and joy deeper than they knew possible when the baby is born! There is so much research now that shows for healthy, low-risk pregnancies and births, physiological birth (birth that is allowed to progress naturally with minimal intervention) is truly healthiest for mother and baby. Studies show the safety of birth attended by trained, licensed midwives who monitor the progression of physiological labor and birth, with the skills, tools, and equipment to intervene when necessary. I love that my job allows me to fight for and support women’s health, rights, and autonomy in the sacred life experience of bringing new life into the world in a safe and healthy, intimate way as they were designed to do. The reason I became a midwife is because when pregnant with my first child, we were working overseas in Egypt. And though planning to birth at an American Hospital in Cairo, I became dismayed with many of the standard interventions that would be “required.” The more I learned about various standard birth interventions and their potential cause for harm when used unnecessarily (pitocin, epidurals, laboring and birthing on one’s back in a bed, etc.), the more I was fueled to research. I found that in developed nations with with BEST birth statistics (such as the Netherlands) all low risk women birth with midwives, and reserve hospital birth with obstetricians for those considered high-risk. Their morbidity and mortality rates were far, far better than American birth statistics. So further I researched until I confidently decided I had to birth with a midwife. We flew in an American missionary midwife who came and stayed with us for two weeks, and delivered our first baby at home, in Egypt. It was the most beautiful experience! I could not imagine having birthed any other way. The midwife came equipped with bags of supplies and equipment for monitoring and facilitating a safe delivery. The tender support and care while keeping me and my baby healthy and safe in the most comfortable environment possible was priceless. It ignited a passion to educate women on their birth options, and to become a midwife to facilitate safe, physiological birth, and offer that tender individualized care to women in my own practice. I love what I do! I’ve since had 5 more children, all birthed beautifully at home with midwives, and have attended nearly 400 births in my career as a birth professional, and own the Houston birth practice The Journey Birth Services and Midwifery Care.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The Journey Birth Services and Midwifery Care (TheJourneyBirthServices.com) is a women-centered birth practice. What sets us apart is that we see each woman and baby as an individual. Her care may need to be tailored to her individual needs, physically and/or emotionally. Each woman only gets to birth each baby once, and it is a sacred experience that is meant to be protected and respected. She is not merely another labor, another birth, but an individual experiencing a very big, and very intimate life experience as she welcomes a new life into the world. That baby isn’t just another baby, but a precious new soul that is going to have his/her own impact on the world. It is not an assembly line method, and standard practices and procedures are discussed with the woman, giving her opportunity to ask questions, consent (or decline) each item in order to tailor her care to her as an individual through informed consent. We help her manage a host of issues through nutritional and supplemental counselling, and refer out for any needed additional medical care with partnering healthcare practitioners to achieve the healthiest outcome and joyful experience for the woman by recognizing her autonomy throughout the process–it’s her body, her birth, and her baby. Getting to where I am has not been easy. I never know at what moment I might get called out to a birth–holidays, my own children’s birthdays, all hours of the night. I have to be ready to go. But like the birthing woman I am headed to join, it’s a labor of love for me. I love getting to join families during those precious moments, to witness the beauty of God’s design when physiological birth plays out beautifully, but also the satisfaction when I do have to intervene to help keep women and their babies safe that we are able course correct and protect the woman’s and baby’s health while preserving her emotional experience within the comfort of her environment. It is all an honor to be invited to join and entrusted to monitor and guard, and sometimes intervene and manage when necessary, one of her perhaps most sacred and intimate life experiences. Building the business has been a fun ride! From the initial start-up journey to present, I’ve birthed three of our own six children (one of which was born last week!). So juggling a growing birth practice amidst my own growing family has been an adventure, but it has been a fun connection with my patients to be walking through the same journey alongside them. As the business has grown, I’ve realized that I truly get to work with the cream of the crop kind of women–independent thinkers and researchers. Strong women who are willing to go against the societal norm, ask questions, and confidently make decisions based on research. Average, mainstream women don’t just “happen” on midwife-attended birth but rather those who dive into the research, don’t care what others may think or say of them, and make choices for herself and her baby that she believes is best. We get to birth with women from every socioeconomic status, variety of educational backgrounds from no high school to PhDs, stay at home moms, waitresses, postal workers, nurses, professors, doctors, vets, etc. and regardless of their background, profession, education or socioeconomic status, the common denominator is that they are strong, independent thinkers and researchers. I LOVE building a practice that allows me to get to work with such women! Myself and our birth team believe in women’s bodies and their ability to give birth the way it was designed. We also believe in a woman’s right to decide how and where she wants to give birth, be encouraged in that choice and given every opportunity to make it happen as she desires in the healthiest, safest way possible. We also believe in informed consent and being an informed consumer—every couple has the right to be educated about birth and to make their own decisions based on information and facts. As part of our services, we offer comprehensive birth classes to ALL couples to help prepare them for birth, but also to make educated choices along the way to tailor their experience to their personal preferences. It is my heart’s desire to journey with couples through their own unique birth experiences, offering encouragement and support to achieve the best, safest, most comfortable and positive experience possible. We adopt the Midwives Model of Care (https://mana.org/about-midwives/midwifery-model): It is a fundamentally different approach to pregnancy and childbirth than contemporary obstetrics. Midwifery care is uniquely nurturing, hands-on care before, during, and after birth. Midwives are health care professionals specializing in pregnancy and childbirth who develop a trusting relationship with their clients, which results in confident, supported labor and birth. Midwives are trained to provide comprehensive prenatal care and education, guide labor and birth, address complications, and care for newborns. The Midwives Model of Care is based on the fact that pregnancy and birth are normal life events. The Midwives Model of Care includes: 1) Monitoring the physical, psychological and social well-being of the mother throughout the childbearing cycle. 2) Providing the mother with individualized education, counseling, and prenatal care, continuous hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support. 3) Minimizing technological interventions. 4) Identifying and referring women who require obstetrical attention.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the diversity of our city! Having lived overseas for 5 years, I love that in Houston I get to meet people from many different cultures and backgrounds. As a born and raised Houstonian like myself, I love being back in my hometown to serve women here! As a mom, my favorite spots tend to be ones where I can enjoy going with my kids. Our all-time favorite is the Houston Zoo, where we’ve maintained membership for 5 years and go several times a month! When guests come, that’s where we go! We’ve also enjoyed the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, Jesse Jones Park events, and dates to Theater Under the Stars. Houston has the best Tex-Mex food on the planet and we love trying different Tex-Mex restaurants! However, the place we frequent most and find the majority of our community and family events is our church, Humble First Church (https://humblefirst.org/)–there’s always something for our whole family from Vacation Bible School, kids’ camps, adult Bible studies and youth group activities. It’s our family’s home away from home!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My first shout out is to Mercy in Action (https://www.mercyinaction.com/). Mercy in Action is the organization by which I was first connected to my first midwife, Rose Penwell. Rose was working as a missionary midwife at Mercy in Action’s missions birth center in the Philippines which offers free care to impoverished women. She was willing to leave her family for a few weeks to fly to Egypt to attend my birth. I often wonder why on earth she was willing to do that, but it completely changed the trajectory of my life and career. Mercy in Action, in addition to their missions birth centers in the Philippines, is an accredited college offering a bachelors degree in Midwifery as well as many continuing education workshops and seminars for midwives around the world. They are making the world a better place for women, babies, and midwives through their global efforts to support and facilitate safe childbirth and quality education of birth practitioners. My next shout out is to my husband, Weston, who has joined me on my wild journey to midwifery. From midwifery training, travelling the world together, birthing our own six children, starting a business, going to grad school–he has been there right beside me helping juggle it all. I could not have done it without him! I love you, Babe! You’re my favorite person! My birth team–Shani, Rachel, Hunter, Kaleigh, Tori, Lauren! (https://www.thejourneybirthservices.com/meetthestaff/) These ladies are my dream team! I absolutely love getting to work with them and their hearts to serve and support women, keep things running smoothly, and act with skill, calm, and respect in all births. Thanks for being the best! Most of all, God. Looking back at my journey to where I am, I see God’s fingerprints orchestrating the whole thing. Midwifery is a calling, I feel placed deep inside me by God even as a child. Not knowing what a midwife was, I was obsessed with babies and birth as a little girl. I chose a different path at first, going to Bible college and getting degrees in English and Cross-Cultural Missions, knowing my passion was to help serve women, somehow. It took becoming a mother for Him to resurface those life-long feelings to bring it all together in a beautiful way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner. This has proven so accurate in my journey with God, wifehood, motherhood, and midwifery.
Tori Lame – With Grace and Strength Doula Services Sarah Anzola – Humble Acupuncture Jamie Tutiven