We invite you to read on to learn about the genesis of Family Ways, LLC: where we came from, how we got here, and where we're going.
How do we know for sure when a journey starts? In a way, the real genesis of this company was October 1, 2001, when Rachel gave birth to her first child. Left reeling from the lack of support in an impersonal medical system, Rachel sought different options for her second birth, and in 2006 gave birth at the Maternity Center in Bethesda, MD. But that facility closed later that year, and since then families in our local community have faced extremely limited out-of-hospital birth options.
Over a decade of parenting, Rachel increasingly saw the challenges her friends faced as they began their own families, and longed to help bring about change. In the mid-2010s, as national conversations increasingly introduced doulas as a “solution” to rising perinatal mortality rates, Rachel begin to seek innovative ways to include doulas, midwives, and other holistic providers in the care context without introducing them into the same rigid structures that limit the efficacy of hospital-based doctors, nurses, midwives, and medical professionals. (Eventually, the COVID pandemic would bring an exciting increase in interest in out-of-hospital birth options; however, insurance limitations and other barriers to care mean that these options remain widely inaccessible.)
From this, and in response to the movement toward bringing doulas under the purview of the Medicaid system (a move that risks severely limiting doulas’ autonomy as an independent support people separate from the medical industrial complex), Rachel began to explore options for creating an independent collaborative care structure that puts the pregnant/birthing person in charge of their own care and decision-making. After several years as an independent doula, Rachel knew that more was needed.
Thus, Family Ways doula agency was born.
We believe that pregnancy and childbearing are usually normal physiological processes, and that midwives are the most appropriate care providers to attend childbearing people and their families, with the support of obstetricians and maternal fetal medicine specialists when medical need arises. We promote and advocate for non-intervention in normal childbirth. We believe that pregnancy and childbearing is a profound, significant transition for the birthing person, family, and community.
Our holistic care begins with the therapeutic use of human presence and skillful communication. The care we provide promotes, protects, and supports the childbearing person’s human, reproductive, and sexual health and rights. We approach care with humility and with respect for background, culture, personal needs and preferences, and human dignity.
Our Role in Your Care
Our team's perinatal care is holistic and continuous in nature, grounded in an understanding of the social, emotional, cultural, spiritual, psychological, and physical experiences of birthing people. We support the childbearing person in exploring birth options and making informed decisions for their care and assuming responsibility for their health and the health of their families. We promote a continuous and compassionate partnership that acknowledges a person's life experiences and knowledge as the guide for individualized care. We promote continuity of care through the childbearing year and beyond, and in collaboration with other providers on the care team.
Our responsibility to you is to provide ethical and competent consultation and collaborative care that is informed and guided by formal and continuous education, scientific research, and application of evidence. We individually and collectively maintain our competence and ensure that our practice is evidence-based and current. We engage in and utilize health promotion, disease prevention, and health education, and the application of a public health perspective.
Model of Care
Holistic perinatal care takes place in support of the bodily autonomy of childbearing people, recognizing the right to self-determination, and is respectful, personalized, continuous, and non-authoritarian. We practice in collaboration and consultation with other health professionals to serve the holistic physical, mental, and emotional needs of the childbearing person, newborn, family, and community. We use technology appropriately and effect referral in a timely manner when problems arise. We support and promote the involvement of a person’s designated family members, to the extent desired, in all care experiences.
What You Can Expect
The care that we provide will at all times be person-centric and culturally and socially humble. Our care protects and enhances the health and social status of childbearing people, and builds self confidence in the ability to navigate childbirth. We promote and protect perinatal health and rights, both in the individual context and in the broader community.
[Last updated December 7, 2023.]