Vanessa Flood - doula, lactation consultant

A Doula For You To Meet

Meet Vanessa Flood – a no-nonsense, unapologetic, fierce and determined, extremely knowledgable, thoughtful, and seriously, make-me-pee-my-pants-funny kind of woman. She has shown me what it takes to take a passion and turn it into a career. She’s been at it almost 20 years and she has many gems of wisdom to share!

Vanessa is not only an amazing wealth of information and absolutely the wave-of-calmness doula any mother-to-be would want, but she also trains doulas and is a certified lactation consultant. You can find her at www.birthingbeyond.com and on Instagram, Twitter, and on Facebook.


When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

In 2002 I took a local childbirth class which ended up having a fear-based, anti-hospital agenda with outdated and missing information. The instructor then shamed me for being on bed rest for preterm labor: “If only you ate more protein, followed our special diet…” blah blah blah. I knew there had to be a better way. I left my job as a microbiologist and I set out to provide comprehensive, evidence-based childbirth education not rooted in fear! Being in the middle of labor is NOT the ideal way to learn how things work! I became a Lamaze certified childbirth educator and began teaching. Then I took a local birth doula training to make me a better instructor. Soon after a friend invited me to attend her upcoming birth and “try it out.” I politely declined. She asked again and I politely declined. She asked again and I politely declined, yet again. She asked again and I finally agreed. And I am so very thankful she persisted in seeing in me what I didn’t see in myself. I think I may have been even more excited than her after C was born! Her daughter just turned 17 and I have been honored to welcome 540 babies into the world–including 2 this week! Since then I have become a birth doula trainer for DONA International and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant so I can serve my clients with the highest level of care I can!

How do you make your clients feel special?

Everything is tailored specifically to them and how they want to bring a baby into the world; while still sharing the whole picture of possibilities. And just like they hold this day in their hearts forever, I hold their day in my heart forever too. So we work together to make this the best day possible!

What do you feel makes your clients special?

My client’s give me hope for humanity! They are all changing the world in their own unique way and raising little humans with empathy, kindness and compassion– everything our world needs! I am fortunate to have been invited into their lives during this incredible process. And once we have a baby together we are family!

If you could magically give all of your community members one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?

Respectful, equitable maternity care (it is overwhelmingly infuriating this has to land under “magic”). This is why we advocate fiercely and what we strive for as we know racial disparities account for our black and brown women and babies dying at 3 times the rate as our white women and babies in birth and first year postpartum.

Has anything surprised you about starting a website?

The amount of time it takes to create and update; checking both computer and mobile site formats. The learning curve is steep.

Did you create your own website or hire it out? Do you use WordPress?

I created my website on my own. The first was a template site that really was not meant for a business but I forced it into being because of the great price and customer service. After 16 years I couldn’t hobble it along anymore! So I then went on a quest for someone to hire. I wanted a small, woman-owned business with a small town feel (because I am a small town Kansas girl at heart!). I poured through sites, portfolios and interviewed three prospects. I hired someone I thought would be a perfect match for rebranding and creating my new site. And then they did not deliver– logo options were everything I didn’t want and explicitly stated in intro phone call. After we went round and round I finally fired them but lost a large chunk of cash in the process. After that I decided to just do it myself {UGH!} — it took me months of time I did not have! In retrospect I would have cancelled so much earlier once I realized how preoccupied the designer was in her personal life and when a new college student intern was given my project. I ended up using WIX and added Dubsado as my back end management. I enjoy the full control but it is so time consuming when websites are not your forte.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Always start off with a website that reflects you! Don’t make it too official– let your personality shine and your voice come through. Network, network, network! Learn your community. Find out what others offer instead of just sharing what you offer. Speak with an attorney and accountant so you know what to expect financially and legally. Find a mentor. Work on your website, marketing, services in the down time. Set goals and give yourself raises with each goal achieved. Find your happy price when pricing– what price allows you to do your job without feeling resentful. Don’t price based on what you can afford-know your clientele. And become the best; hone your skills. Don’t try to do be everything all at once!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have chosen a different company who valued my small business and wanted the challenge of rebranding so I didn’t have to do it myself!

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

I do. I started 7 years ago when it made sense to do with my evolving business services.

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

No! The self employed life ebbs and flows so having multiple revenue streams helps buffer the few years it takes to get established with consistent clients! And even with consistent clients there is still ebb and flow. I always have multiple streams running at all times.

How do you promote your site?

I advertise monthly in a local family directory. I also have my site on every industry resource/referral site I can. Business cards/magnet cards for health care providers. I am a preferred provider for a local OBGYN office providing private classes and services for their patients so they receive my info from their doctor in a welcome packet. And of course I work on SEO frequently. Social media– Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Insta.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts right now? 

My go to podcasts are Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead, Evidence Based Birth by Rebecca Dekker and Natal: A docuseries on having a baby while black in the United States.

Anything else you want to share?

These are my favorite quotes:
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”
― Mark Twain

“When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take a step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on or we will be taught to fly.”
― Patrick Overton


“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” ―Maya Angelou

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