We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Michelle Isla. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Michelle below.
Michelle, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. Setting up an independent practice is a daunting endeavor. Can you talk to us about what it was like for you – what were some of the main steps, challenges, etc.
Midwifery came to me as part of my spiritual journey. From the early days of studying midwifery I didn’t know exactly what it would look like for me. All I knew was that I was following my inner voice and taking the steps that I felt led to take moment to moment. As I approached the end of my training and got a better sense for how I wanted to serve others, I realized I didn’t quite fit into the current paradigm of how midwifery was offered in my local community. It was then that I decided I would start my practice and continue to follow my inner guidance even if I wasn’t sure of how exactly to be in business and be in practice on my own.
In the early days, and in order to feel I was practicing midwifery safely and responsibly, I hired another midwife-friend to attend births with me and to review client’s cases to be sure I wasn’t missing anything. It was a beautiful time of sisterhood, friendship, and checks & balances. I offered in-home prenatal care which then moved to a small office room and then into a prenatal room in my home.
Through the years I also chose to work part-time at various birthing centers in town. I value midwifery care in every setting and I value the experience I gained working in different models. It wasn’t until I made the choice to work full-time at one of these birth centers, after the birth of my second child, that I had a deep remembering of the importance of my version and my vision of midwifery. I remembered that my version had a place in the world and it was my responsibility to show up and offer it.
I returned to my private practice in 2019 with full commitment and trust. Trust in my vision, trust for what I was doing, and trust in my ability to succeed. Today Sacred Birth looks incredibly different than it did even in 2019. We have grown into a practice that embodies this vision beautifully. I had to learn a whole lot about entrepreneurship, business principles in management, finance, and conscious leadership. All of this was only possible by taking a leap of faith to create an aligned team of women around me who resonated with my vision and carried it out while I took a deep dive into learning how to manage a growing practice.
I love that today we have more midwives in our community. I wish there was more guidance and mentorship in creating businesses that fully embody a person’s values. This is what I feel our communities are missing. We were all put on the planet to discover and share our gifts, our purpose. Aligning with our purpose and creating businesses that embody it is the greatest gift we can offer the world when we choose to be entrepreneurs. Perhaps this is my biggest piece of advice to younger midwives dreaming of starting their own practice.
Michelle, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
My interest in conscious birth began almost 20 years ago when a few books crossed my path that deeply impacted the way I view being a woman, giving birth, and becoming a mother. They reminded me of the inherent and powerful knowing that lives inside all of us. I immersed myself in a world of traditional woman-wisdom that viewed pregnancy, birth, and mothering as a sacred rite of passage. Simultaneously I was in a phase in my life where a beautiful spiritual awakening was happening. The trainings I attended allowed me both to cultivate my inner knowing and inner trust as well as to build a sound, clinical knowledge base in birth and midwifery. The more I learned, the more I felt something deep in me awaken.
I created Sacred Birth in 2013 to be an intimate midwifery practice where great importance and attention is given to the emotional and spiritual significance of pregnancy, birth, and motherhood in our lives, one where -personal growth- is at the core of the experience and relationship between midwife and client. Over the years Sacred Birth has inspired a reputation for slow and conscious midwifery. Beyond our practice of diverse, evidence-based, and culturally-sensitive care, the highest goal of Sacred Birth is to hold the entire journey and transition as sacred, and to use it as a catalyst for self-growth. We strive to see humanity for who we really are, and to ultimately support the conscious evolution of each person and family, in everything that we do.
Something that makes our practice unique is our commitment to traditional and slow care and creating community around motherhood. We have weekly pregnancy and postpartum support circles where mothers can begin to build community, connecting with other mothers, learning together, and sharing honestly about their experiences. Our prenatal appointments are hour-long visits where we care for mothers and their growing babies and discuss the physical aspects of pregnancy as well as the mental-emotional aspects. Prenatal visits are intended to be a respite time for mothers to slow down and integrate their lived experience of pregnancy. We observe the first 40 days of a mother’s postpartum time with in-home postpartum care and in-home lactation support with a board-certified lactation consultant. Throughout a mother’s journey with us we offer several opportunities for deeper enrichment through our in-person workshops and monthly virtual workshops with the midwives. We truly infuse consciousness and “slow midwifery” in everything that we do.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
I think that connecting to my purpose and having a deep commitment to building a practice that embodied what I feel I was put on earth to do was the first step. From this place I was able to show up authentically and be in service in a way that is unique to me. We all have a way of being in service that is unique to us when we align with our life-purpose. It had been my dream and intention for a long time to create my success by connecting my work/livelihood to my life-purpose. I believe that when people *feel* us in our authentic state of being, fully connected to our purpose, they are drawn to that. Eventually how people feel when they’re around us, how they feel us embody our values, becomes the reputation of our work and business.
Are there any books, videos or other content that you feel have meaningfully impacted your thinking?
I have had to do an amazing amount of learning about business and entrepreneurship along the way. Brene Brown’s work has inspired my ability to lean into vulnerability and personal values with myself and our team. Inviting authenticity with each other and with our clients has helped us build a company culture that is aligned, loyal, and true. Her book Dare to Lead taught me about conscious leadership and helped me be able to step into the role of leader, a role I never imagined I’d have.
A book that continues to keep me aligned with my beliefs on money is You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero. This is one I listen to repeatedly (especially chapter 2!) to keep my mind in the right place. I have found that it’s very important to continually and whole-heartedly remind myself of the beliefs and mindset I choose to have. This book has been great for keeping my motivation high and my goals front and center.
Mike Michalowicz’ Profit First has by far been the biggest game-changer in how I run our business finances. This book is absolutely mind-blowing and has just made so much sense to me. Some of our team got so curious and excited hearing me talk about it that they also chose to read it and be ‘all-in’ with me on the Profit First plan. That was such a powerful and beautiful testament for me of the company culture we had created that made everyone want to be ‘all-in’ with what we were trying to do as a company.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, my personal growth work has impacted everything I do. It has influenced all aspects of my life allowing me to find the resources and teachers I’ve needed when I’ve needed them. I have my mentors and friends of the Avatar Course to thank for guiding and supporting me these last 16 yrs in my work using the Avatar consciousness tools.
- Website: www.sacredbirthfl.com
- Instagram: @sacredbirth
- Facebook: Sacred Birth Midwifery
Erin Miller Photography