Amanda DeVoogdt (de vote)
Role at Health Foundations:
- BA in Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies (minor) at the University of Minnesota in Duluth
- Midwifery Program Graduate (3-year program) from Birthwise Midwifery School, a MEAC (Midwifery Education and Accreditation Council) accredited school, in Bridgton, Maine.
Let’s start with some basics.
What do you love to do when you are not at Health Foundations?
I love food- cooking it, eating it, sharing it. One of my favorite things to do is whip up an impromptu dinner for friends or attempt a challenging recipe that’s caught my eye. Back when I had a TV, I used to watch a lot of old reruns of Julia Child on PBS and America’s Test Kitchen.
Running is also a common past time of mine. I ran a marathon once and as I crossed the finish line swore I would never do another-ha! I’m more of a 4-5 miler these days. Just enough to de-stress, get me outside and make me feel the runner’s high.
If you could get on a plane and travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go and why?
Oh gosh, I think my travel bug has been tamed! I had lots of traveling adventures throughout my 20s, so now I’m much more of a homebody. I’d much rather take a long weekend and explore a small town in Wisconsin and camp outside than jet-set anywhere.
Do you have a favorite restaurant in Saint Paul?
Black Sheep Pizza and Mango Thai are a couple of my favorites for take-out.
Tanpopo Restaurant is the best-kept secret in St Paul and The Blue Door Pub makes a mighty fine juicy-lucy!
When does your story with Health Foundations begin?
I started with Amy Johnson-Grass before she opened the birth center. She was closing her private midwifery practice and had just purchased the building that is now the birth center. She very graciously took me on as a ‘volunteer’ even though I had no skills or experience- I hadn’t even been to a birth at that point! I basically just wanted tasks so I could follow her around and see what it was like to be a midwifeJI packed boxes and organized charts and eventually I applied to midwifery school and she became my preceptor. It’s been a whirlwind ever sense. Nothing could have prepared me for how hard and character-building midwifery school would be. I’ve been with Amy through all of my training and am so grateful for her endless patience and kindness towards me while I grew into a midwife. She’s my mama midwife- gently leading me and teaching me along the way.
After graduation I stayed on as a staff midwife and have been here ever since. I’m so proud to be one of the original staff members and to have been able to see the birth center grow and change over the years. We’ve come so far!
Did you know before your work with Amy that you for sure wanted to be a midwife or were you just exploring a possible interest?
The first time I heard about midwifery was in my Women’s Studies classes in college. I was really fascinated by the profession of midwifery and by women that chose to give birth in their homes. I’m a big fan of bold women that go against the grain and stand up for what they believe in, so midwifery felt like home to me. I had a lot of things I wanted to do in my life first though. My gypsy spirit really had to have its time before I could be ready for the life commitment that is midwifery. So I spent a lot of time traveling and working various jobs after college, but my heart was always in midwifery. I knew I would come back to it.
For me, and for many midwives, midwifery is a calling. A vocation that picks you. That’s what gets you through the sleepless nights, the long labors and the many days without seeing your family or friends. You truly have to love the work and believe that it is making a difference because it can be very challenging at times.
Tell me more about your bucket list. What were some of the things you did to feed your gypsy spirit before becoming a midwife?
Well, I took a year off in college and moved to China to work as an English teacher for a while. I was literally fresh off the farm from rural North Dakota and plopped down in the middle-of-nowhere China. It was my first time leaving the country and it totally blew my mind. After I finished college I took a job in The Netherlands working as a personal assistant to a woman who was pregnant at the time. The Netherlands, specifically in Amsterdam where I was—the social norm is to have a homebirth. I was really exposed to a culture that supported out-of-hospital birth and midwifery and that had a big influence on me. Once I left The Netherlands, I took a job in South Korea and wrote textbook curriculum for a little over a year. It was a wild time. I was literally living out of a suitcase and had sold all of my belongings. I knew that I would never have a time in my life like that again- I totally took advantage of being single and free of commitments.
I’m so glad I had all of those adventures and experiences and I am also glad that it’s over! I like hot showers and real beds too much now.
What do you know about the story of your own birth?
I was adopted when I was an infant, so my birth story was told to me by my birth mother a couple of years ago when I met her for the first time. It was a story that I had been waiting to hear my whole life and now has added importance because of my work in birth. It was very moving to hear my own birth story and it was also very moving to hear a birth story from the perspective of a birthmother. I felt like I knew my entire ‘life story’ once I heard the story of my birth and I greatly encourage all women to write about their birth experiences not only for themselves but also for their children one day.
My co-workers are like my family. We have a lot of fun together and we laugh a lot. Everyone is sharing food, stories and hugs around here. This is a great place to come if you are having a great day, and a great place to come when you are having a bad day because everyone is going to be there to support you.
When I’m up all night at a birth and haven’t slept I am guaranteed to have a coffee waiting for me, a sandwich on the way, and someone is working to rearrange my schedule so I can get a nap in or go home early—everyone just comes together to take care of one another. That is crucial in this kind of work.
I often find myself saying “Just do what you need to do…” during labors. I’m usually saying it when someone’s at the point where she just needs to give into the process.
Cry it out. Sing. Let’s have a dance party. Get mad. Yell. Cry some more. Just do what you need to do. Tap into that deep place and let it give you strength. Labor is an emotional journey that is different for every one. I love holding a safe space for women while they figure it all out and “do what they need to do”.
What do you love about Health Foundations families?
I love that our clients come in with thoughtful questions about their health and that they request alternative treatments for common ailments. There are so many things that can be treated through changes in diet and natural remedies. I love sharing what I know and giving people information that they can use beyond their pregnancy.
Do you have any advice or other wisdom to share with our readers?
Chiropractic care in pregnancy is key. So is sitting up straight in the car and not reclining back in comfy chairs. “Optimal fetal positioning” is the mantra for the third trimester!