by: Valarie Welsh of Birthmark Doula
Last year I had the privilege to present the work and "birth" of the San Antonio Birth Network at an international conference for doulas. I was, and still am so proud of the work and intention that has gone into creating this group!
When I arrived in San Antonio, I was fresh from three years as the president of the Rochester Doula Cooperative and was looking for a similar group of doulas to belong to. At the same time, another new face in the "SA" birth worker community was looking to do something similar. The vision of those beginning conversations was fuzzy and we quickly realized the need for a community of birth workers to be able to refer to and trust as we planted our businesses on new soil. I had come from a cooperative group. My new friend had come from a network. We wanted many of the same things- but some of our goals were distinctly different. I was looking for a cohort of birth doulas to exchange with as Birthmark Doula grew roots in Cibolo TX and NE San Antonio, my friend Carmen was interested in growing relationships with other doulas too. But she wasn't a birth doula at all, she owns The Nurturing Root- a birth education studio and placenta encapsulation business in Central San Antonio. We needed to understand what type of group we wanted, and so the San Antonio Birth Network was created.
It's an interesting question- especially as I came from a cooperative group.
A little google research will tell you networks and cooperatives are not the same. In fact, they serve different purposes by definition.
When you think of an intentionally planned community or collective, the roles of each person are multidimensional and may change as needs dictate. Members share more than their specialties to the group. Some contribute more than others, all work for a common goal of the community.
This is different from a cooperative- where everyone contributes in a specific way, members must co-operate to achieve a shared goal.
Then there is the network- a group where some roles are essential and connected in specific ways with others. Each of the members has unique contributions and gains unique benefits.
Different businesses have different goals. When we work together as a network, our revenue looks different. My goals as Birthmark Doula were to build a catalog of area doulas to work with and add to my list of local resources to refer my clients to. While The Nurturing Root also wanted to add to a list of local resources, her other goal was to create a robust childbirth education business customized for families in San Antonio. So you see, networks work for professionals with individualized needs.
Together, Carmen and I, and now the 30+ members of the San Antonio Birth Network share a mission to provide a comprehensive network of birth businesses that provides resources for families in the San Antonio area throughout the childbearing year. Comprehensive, meaning a diverse group of services ranging from preconception counseling through extended breastfeeding support. Our group works as a directory for families to find established and experienced birth professionals in their area, as well as support, and a referral base for local birth business owners. Scroll through our website and social to meet and learn from our members! Of course, if you're a birth professional in the San Antonio area we are interested in meeting you too! If you feel like a network can benefit you (either as a birthing parent or a professional birth service provider) your link is right here! We're looking forward to serving you soon!