In the first of a new series looking at local entrepreneurs, Jo Sealy from Waltham Forest Business Network meets a birth coach from Walthamstow
A single encounter on a train assisting an expectant mother changed Tracey Louis-Fernand’s life forever.
The incident led Tracey to move from being a senior manager in social housing, where she worked for over 17 years, to setting up her own birth coach business, Mothering the Mother, in 2018 – as a professional doula.
A doula provides emotional, physical and educational support to a mother who is expecting, is experiencing labour, or has recently given birth. The aim is to help women have a safe and empowering birth.
Tracey explains: “I assisted an expectant mother on a regular journey to work – little did I know that our conversation about motherhood and birth would spark the journey to me becoming a fully trained doula.
“I began working voluntarily to gain experience. I continued my paid employment four days a week and supported new and expectant mothers during my spare time. I went on to train with [pregnancy support charity] NCT, working on a wonderful project providing support for women’s perinatal mental health. I have also worked on NHS wards, as a breastfeeding peer support worker.
“During that time, I could see how dedicated and committed the mothers were, but something was missing. No-one can pour from an empty cup and it is when we are well that we can fully take care of our loved ones. This became a ‘light bulb’ moment for many of the mothers I supported and really was the seed from which Mothering the Mother was born.”
Tracey provides complete pregnancy, birth and postnatal packages. Her business was set up with the help of start-up enterprise training from local organisations Allia and Outset.
“Depending on where you are with your business there is support available,” Tracey explains. “This year I am also joining Enterprise Nation. As much as anything else, it is really useful to keep networking with other business owners and I have made some truly wonderful contacts over the last year.”
Tracey sees her business journey so far as one with many highlights.
“I never knew that within my first year of business I would feature in a Facebook live interview and on a business podcast or that I would be a contributing guest blogger; this is quite an achievement for someone that had no social media experience prior to starting a business.
“And to top it off here I am in Waltham Forest Echo!”
Tracey is planning the year ahead with a focus on rolling out a series of affordable perinatal related workshops, collaborating with other businesses and continuing to expand on providing regular, affordable antenatal support.
For more information about Mothering The Mother:
Do you know a great small business in Waltham Forest with a story to tell?