We spoke with Rachel Schwartzman, naturopathic doctor, birth doula, and mother of 3. We found out how she manages her private practice, what it was like to meet the “mother” of midwifery, and how to capture gorgeous Instagram photos like she does.
Your formal training + education are in medicine, but where did you learn how to run a successful business?
I grew up with Israeli immigrant parents who were both self-employed. They moved here with very little, and made a successful life for themselves. I saw them work hard daily, so really I was being taught from a young age how to run a successful business. I think it’s also who I am. I’m a good listener, have a lot of empathy, and am very honest. There have been times I’ve had to work harder at my practice, but I stay focused on my passions and maintain my authentic self.
How do you manage a thriving business, birthing babies, mothering 3 children, and maintaining your sanity? Or do you?
I’m not sure I do! Just thinking about that list makes me anxious! I graduated from The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine pregnant. I received my naturopathic license and had my son a month later. It’s the only way I know how to practice. It helps that I love what I do, helping others never feels like work. I spent over 9 straight years either pregnant or breastfeeding (crazy I know!), so my business was always a bit behind my peers. With the kids getting a bit older, I am able to explore and work on different projects. It’s so exciting to be at a place in my life where I can work on my creative passions, usually with a kid or two by my side.
Who are the West End Naturopathic Doulas (WEND)?
We are a group of naturopathic doulas committed to helping women and their partners birth their babies with ease and grace. As naturopathic doctors, we bring the perfect combination of medical knowledge with traditional labour support. We try to empower, educate and instill confidence in families as they transition to parenthood, and welcome their healthy baby into this world.
How does WEND benefit the community?
WEND started when a friend and I were chatting about the lack of support for expecting families in our huge city. As a society, we have been disconnected from “normal” birth and women are losing trust in their bodies. We built a team with some of the most experienced naturopathic doulas and together we support families from pregnancy to post-partum care. Our 2nd annual Bump to Baby Show is happening on May 15, 2016. It is a natural health fair highlighting local, organic, and healthy family choices for urban families with young children. We will have over 50 local vendors, a lecture series, childrens activies (art and music), and amazing local organic food. The best part is, it’s free for everyone to come! It’s important to us that this show be accessible to anyone that wants to attend.
Ina May Gaskin is known as the mother of authentic midwifery. What was it like to meet her?
She’s amazing. I love her. She was so calm, and beautiful with her long flowing grey hair. She really inspires me. Her passion to help others, the confidence in her voice, and her amazing birth experiences. It was a real honour to meet and be graced with her presence.
As a parent, do you think your children learn more from you, or you learn more from your children?
I don’t know. I hope they learn from me. I try really hard to be a present mom. But the truth is they teach me so much. My 10 year old is fiery, wise and perceptive. He calls me on things all the time and keeps me on my toes. My little one is so sweet and affectionate but is beyond stubborn and determined. He teaches me that I can not have my way. My daughter always comes in and saves the moment. I love watching her interact with her little brother. She quietly bends down to his level, speaks in her calm high pitched voice and tells him what needs to get done. Just like that his shoes and coat are on, and off we go. These little beings are pretty amazing.
Your food photos are always drool worthy. What are your tricks for taking a great shot?
Haha thanks. I have always been interested in photography. I remember being amazed by my grandfather’s Polaroid camera when I was a kid and making my first pinhole camera in high school. I’ve taken a few classes, and experiment with my digital SLR. But quite honestly it’s all about natural lighting. I shoot everything outside.
People often sigh (heavily) when Lisa encourages them to engage on social media. What was your initial reaction? And how do you feel about it now?
Yes, I remember that feeling and leaving with a heavy heart and a spinning head. My business is just me, an ND mom with 3 kids. Well over a year later, I feel much better about it and fell into a good rhythm. The thing is, you don’t have to post often, you just need to be real and authentic in your posts. That has always been my focus and I’m sticking to it. (exactly as we assured you, glad it’s working for you!)