Beth Barbeau, CPM, LM, has been a senior midwife in Ann Arbor for 24 years. She has been involved in the birth community for over forty years. Her holistic approach to child birth and wellness has been at the core of her midwifery from the beginning.
“I started going to births when I was 16, with the Motor City Midwives in Detroit,” Barbeau said. “I was an apprentice. As I learned more, they let me do more.”
Barbeau went on to study pre-medicine at Antioch College in Ohio. After receiving her degree, she came to realize that traditional medicine was not for her. Barbeau is an Ann Arbor mother of two adult sons.
“I didn’t want to spend years becoming good at pharmaceuticals,” she added.
She went back to her roots, becoming a licensed and certified midwife instead.
In 2006, she opened a storefront called Indigo Forest to serve mothers, babies, and families in the community.
“A forest is a place you go to restore. It’s a refuge,” she said. “When we opened the storefront in 2006, that’s exactly what I wanted it to be for mothers. We were a storefront for nine years, a place where mothers and families and parents become restored, more confident, more grounded. To feel safe.”
A natural health boutique
Indigo Forest has now transitioned from a physical store to an online natural health boutique, with a website and weekly newsletter. Barbeau offers online classes, ebooks, and consultation for a virtual community.
Barbeau would like to see Indigo Forest become a valuable resource for families.
“I have long been called to teach and write, and to make this information available on a bigger scale. When I opened Indigo Forest, I saw this generational gap. Moms were so scared and so worried. They don’t know who to ask. They can only Google. They scare themselves to bits,” she said. “What I wanted to do was to help empower them. Intuition and common sense have to be at the head of the healthcare team.”
Moms helping moms
Barbeau has plans to make Indigo Forest a launching pad for mom support groups, breastfeeding support groups, and parenting groups where people can make real connections and foster healthy relationships.
“We weren’t meant to be mommies in complete isolation in our house. It’s meant to be a community activity, to be supportive. We are wired to learn by watching. We are wired to learn by connection,” she said.
Barbeau worries that too many mothers rely on the internet for information, rather than trusting reliable sources.
“I see a whole bunch of people who make really good graphics. They speak authoritatively, but their information is dangerous. It’s not based on evidence. It’s not based on reality. It’s not based on experience, and it’s not based on what is in textbooks,” she said.
“In my mind, women’s bodies are made to birth, and generally do pretty well with it if we don’t get in the way. To me, that went hand in hand with the natural lifestyle and the natural health approach,” Barbeau said. “I’ve always been interested in less medicine, if possible, to nurture and nourish people.”
Indigo Forest now offers Avacen, a medical device that provides thermotherapy. This class 2 medical device has been approved by the FDA for drug-free treatment of pain. It also promotes physical health and well being by boosting the immune system and improving circulation and sleep.
Barbeau hopes that her weekly newsletter and boutique website will offer information and products to promote healthy lifestyles beginning at birth and beyond.
“Health care shouldn’t hurt us emotionally,” she said. “Good health care attends to the body, mind and spirit.