Can you imagine working with your mother? can you imagine being so close that you finish each other’s sentences? What about hiring your mother to work for you… to attend your birth? Deundra Hundon and Stephanie Dixon, the founders of Bare With Me: A Mother-Daughter Doula Duo are living the dream! Together, the pair strives to create an incredible experience for the birthing mother and family by increasing public and personal awareness about the benefits of doula support, education during pregnancy, continuous labor support, and healthy postpartum care and recovery.
Deundra, who completed her training with Cornerstone Doula Training, has been passionate about working in this sphere since she was just a high school student. She has over two decades of experience working with families and brings an air of confidence and peace when she enters a room. Denudra was born into birth work having a great aunt who was a prominent midwife in Texas, where she hails from. She has worked as a teacher, program director, family support coordinator, and college advisor. Her greatest work has been raising her daughter Stephanie who is also a birth and postpartum doula.
In addition to being a doula, Stephanie is also a childbirth educator who sits on the board at Friends of San Francisco Birth Center along with her mother. There, they work with midwives and other doulas and board members to foster open communication with low-income women and women of color and their partners with the San Francisco Birth Center and Friends of San Francisco Birth Center Board.
In 2016, according to a survey of women by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 9% of women in California opted to use a doula for birth support, while 39% of women surveyed expressed an interest in having a doula during a future pregnancy. In working together as a mother and daughter team, Stephanie and Deundra have been able to provide their services to those looking for someone to advocate for them during this powerful and vulnerable time, when preparing for birth.
Recently, Deundra and Stephanie sat down for an exclusive interview with Mama Glow to discuss their company, unique experiences as a mother/daughter team, self-care, and what’s next for them.
MG: You are a mother-daughter doula duo, you’re entrepreneurs running a successful SanFrancisco- based birth business, Bare With Me. How do you manage it all?
BWM:Life is sometimes overwhelming. We don’t get much sleep, and our schedules are packed. We’re on-call for nine months out of the year, but we have one another, and that’s literally how we manage it all. Having a support system and a high-level, calendaring system – honestly it’s filled with a pack of Post-Its and tons of colors on our Google calendars – ensures that we’re in the right place at the scheduled time. Our family and extended family is our “Village!”
MG: What are some of your offerings at Bare With Me? What is the experience like for aclient who hires you?
BWM: Bare With Meoffers services which support the birthing person, their partner, family members and friends. Our services are tailored to each part of the birth journey, which includes, pregnancy, labor, birth, postpartum and beyond. This includes in-home prenatal care, workshops on healthy nutrition, one-on-one childbirth education classes, coping technique lessons, meal preparation education, centering sessions, labor and birth support, and postpartum care. Often, our relationship with our families last from three to five months (this can be more than half of their pregnancy) at the end of our relationship, which never truly ends. Our clients feel transformed from the inside out. We see their level of confidence grow immensely from the beginning of their journey until the end.
MG: As you know very well, doula work can be extremely intense. What self-care practicesdo you lean into to fortify yourself as you tend to your clients and expand your business?
Stephanie Dixon: Self-care is something we talk about almost every week, and it’s something we take very seriously, as a result of experiencing the “Doula Burnout” firsthand. I do some type of workout 4-5 days a week, nap with my daughter when I can, sit in the sauna regularly, get manicures and pedicures and take short trips, periodically.
Denudra Hundon: Like many Black women and Black women entrepreneurs, self-care is often “put on the back burner” and unfortunately, I struggled to answer this question because I am not as consistent with my self-care routine as I want to be. I would love to be doing the following self-care practices more often because I feel rejuvenated when I am consistent. I love to meditate, write in my journal, read books and attend my book club group, take long walks and spend time with my children and granddaughter. As our business grows, we are learning the importance of self-care and placing an even higher value on our health.
MG: You’re black women living and working in a San Francisco neighborhood that hasbecome gentrified over time. What’s kept you committed to staying in the changingNeighborhood?
DH: We have been in our neighborhood for more than 35 years, so our hearts are here. My parents, and Stephanie’s grandparents, moved here during the great black migration from the great state of Texas, bought homes here in our neighborhood and at one time operated a small neighborhood market, setting the example of what successful entrepreneurship looked like. Their entrepreneurship, courage and work ethic inspires us to keep our business here and give back to our community. The Bayview Hunter’s Point community currently has the largest home ownership by Black/African-American residents in the city of San Francisco, where the Black/African-American population is only three percent 3%.
MG: We absolutely love that you work as a mother-daughter duo. How did each of you getstarted on your doula journeys?
DH: My mom actually inspired me to become a doula and lit the path for me because she was a doula first. Yes, actually I’ve always wanted to be in birth work, even as a young teen, but in my senior year of high school I was discouraged by educators at my school and chose a different path. It wasn’t until five years ago, on my 50th birthday when I attended Oprah’s, “The Life You Want Weekend,” where my passion for birth work was reignited. That Monday, after the event, I immediately began researching Doula training programs and signed up for Cornerstone Doula Trainings, which is also owned and operated by a mother-daughter team. And the rest is in the making.
SD: Let me begin by saying, I was truly inspired by my mom’s journey and her confidence to take a leap into becoming a doula. I’m not sure that we would be where we are if it wasn’t for her courageousness. I always wanted to enter into the health field. I have clear memories and pictures of myself participating in dramatic play as a doctor. Along the way, I too was discouraged by the amount of work it took to become a doctor. I also didn’t have as much privilege to attend medical school, so I got discouraged. In college, I was very passionate about health communication and took everything I learned seriously. Right before I graduated college, I found out I was pregnant, and, almost immediately, my mom knew she was going to be my doula. Our journey together as doula and client, while also being a mother and daughter, is what propelled me into becoming a doula. I realized how important it is to have a birth companion by your side throughout one of your vulnerable and transformative times in life.
MG: Stephanie, we know you interviewed your mother before she served at your birth as yourdoula. What was the process like, and how was it having your mother help guide youinto motherhood?
SD: I have to say this before my mom does, but I actually interviewed her the same way I did other doulas (haha). It’s not because I doubted her skills as a doula, but because I needed to make sure that she could truly handle being my mom and my doula at the same time. Of course, in the end I chose her, and I never doubted my decision. Every person deserves a mom like mine because she is the most selfless, caring, compassionate and giving person I know. As much as she can and is willing, she gives me so much information on parenting, so much support so I can be a great parent and individual and unconditional love. She’s shared her losses and her wins so that I can be the best parent and person possible. I am so grateful for her and have been ever since I was a kid.
MG:Stephanie, what is it like to work with your mother at the service of an expectant mother?
SD:What better way to support an expectant mother than to do so with the person who taught me how to be a mother? We feed off of one another so much, which shows up in our work when we finish each other’s sentences – which our families always chuckle at. We also trust one another and our clients want to feel that they can trust us. So, I think seeing that assures them that they can trust us. Often times, our expectant mothers see us as their own mother figures throughout their labor and birth experiences which is directly representative of the work we do as a mother-daughter duo.
MG: Denudra, what does it mean to you, personally, to work together in this capacity?
DH: Working with my daughter is priceless. In fact, I feel complete as a parent, truly complete. I have no regrets as a parent, and although I’m not perfect, I’m extremely proud of the person Stephanie is today and that, as her mom, I played apart. Often, as children grow up, the relationship of the parent(s) and child grow apart. My relationship with Stephanie has done nothing but grow stronger and stronger. I have my most trusted partner, who is honest, intelligent and caring to me, even when I’m not at my best.
MG: What do you want your clients to learn during the process of working with you?
BWM: We want our clients to learn the following during the process of working with us:
- Power (that they have within their birthing and postpartum location)
- Birth options
- History of doula work
- Partner power
- Details of what’s happening during pregnancy, labor and birth
- How to create a postpartum plan (and use it!)
- How they can positively affect birth disparities in Black/African-American birthing persons
MG: What are the benefits of working with a doula duo?
BWM: We love this question because there are so many benefits.
- We are a built-in backup for each other
- We have birth knowledge that spans two generations
- We have both been trained by Cornerstone Doula Trainings – therefore our approach to doula support is the same
- As a duo, we both attend the prenatal visits, providing double the fun and support to the family
MG: What’s your community and support circle look like; who do you call on when you need ashoulder to lean on?
BWM: We’ve always had a community and support circle, but it’s beautiful to see how much our support circle has transformed since we launched our business. We call on different people for different things when in need. We have a group of mentors with whom we connect while at a birth so we can ask on-the spot questions. We have a group of doula peers that we reach out to, in order to process our birth and postpartum experiences. Finally, we lean on our family when work is overwhelming and to celebrate our successes!
MG: What’s next for you both?
BWM: We are so excited and looking forward to what the future holds for us both! Our plan is to expand our practice and add one or more doulas to the team. We’re looking forward to the launch of our online retail store, where we will sell merchandise to all of our amazing supporters. Finally, the Bare With Me podcast is underway and will be launching soon!