Welcome to the Longest Standing Center in the Capital Region
Full Services for the Childbearing Year
The Family Life Center is the oldest independent childbirth support center in the Greater Capital Region. Conceived in 1976, the Center has grown to offer the broadest range of programs to families which educate and empower them on their birthing and parenting journeys. Being invested in Albany’s South End but committed to families representing a rather large geographic area, our goal is to help individuals and couples foster the critical thinking skills necessary with which to make informed decisions about healthcare during the childbearing years and beyond. We do this by offering individualized midwifery and doula care, and by conducting classes and workshops that include a unique and fresh approach to childbirth preparation, breastfeeding preparation and support, mother-to-mother groups, playgroups, infant massage, pre-natal yoga, Father’s/Partner’s Nights, water birth class and much more. The Center also offers collegial support to other midwives and doulas practicing in the area, and offers trainings and workshops for professional development. It has long been a place of nourishing and nurturing, more than three decades long and still going strong. Between the three primary providers, we have over 60 years of experience! Choosing the Center, whether our midwifery, doula or educational services, brings you into one of two locations which offer everything you need to feed your mind, body and soul during your childbearing year.
Family Life Center’s Commitment to Care
In our roles as birth support professionals (midwives and doulas), we will get personally and intimately involved with you and your family to help you feel more empowered thorough this amazing journey. We offer you:
- support for you and your partner, as yours is the most essential relationship in this journey
- massage, emotional support, hands-on techniques for labor support
- our experiential knowledge as you make informed choices about your care
- support for unmedicated, non-technical, woman-centered childbirth as the safest possible choice for mothers and babies
- concrete tools to avoid unnecessary interventions
- our continued presence during your labor, even when changes or unexpected outcomes arise
- postpartum support, including breastfeeding support, connections with support groups, and self-care to ease the adjustment to parenthood
- many years of experience working with local practitioners, water and birth, and the broad range of normal birth
We reinforce your trust in your body and your ability to give birth normally. We help you and your family to clarify what is important to you during labor and birth, and work cooperatively within the birth team to help you realize your goals.
About the Care Providers
Betsy Mercogliano, LM, CNM, CPM, RN, CD, CCE
Downtown Albany and Saratoga Springs FLC
I have been supporting birthing mothers and offering Midwifery and Doula care for more than three decades. As a Licensed and Certified Professional Midwife, I have a special focus on Home Birth. I am also the mother of two grown daughters, a wife, a grandmother, a teacher, a childbirth educator, a birth activist and founder of the Family Life Center. I am one of the founders of BirthNet, a local non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public about maternity care in order to improve it. I train doulas and am happy to have seen the number of doulas in the Capital District grow exponentially since I began our trainings over 10 years ago. I received my Registered Nurse license in New York in 1980. After apprenticing for 15 years with two local birth professionals, I earned my Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) credential from the North American Registry of Midwives in 1998. In September, 2010, I earned my Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Midwifery from the National College of Midwifery, completing a survey of Capital District Women on their attitudes toward Midwifery Care, Doula Support and Free-standing Birth Centers. I received a license as a Midwife in NY State (LM/CNM) in 2011. I have been supporting families who want support using water during birth for over 15 years. I have been blessed to be present at hundreds of births of new families.
Tisha Graham, CPM, CCE, CD, CLC
Saratoga Springs FLC
As is true for many of us who support birthing women, I came to this work through the births of my own children. I am the mother of five children and continued to deepen my connection to birth support and to midwifery with each subsequent birth. First certified as a Childbirth Educator more than 25 years ago, I continue to teach childbirth classes which is something I am very passionate about. I was called to provide labor support by various families over the years, and when my own children were older, I was able to commit to full scope labor support work and became a Certified Doula. The next step to take was midwifery certification, and I chose the Certified Professional Midwife credential as it most closely reflects the kind of midwifery I am most philosophically alligned with. And finally, after 16 consecutive years of either being pregnant and/or nursing, I chose to formalize my vast experience around breastfeeding by becoming a Certified Lacation Counselor. I am involved in the politics and policies surrounding access to midwives in all settings as the coordinator for New York Friends of Midwives. I co-founded and am active in the local organization, BirthNet, which serves to educate the community about evidence-based maternity care in order to improve women’s experiences and outcomes. It is an honor and a privilege to be with families during this powerful and exciting time.
Jessica Allen Hayek, CCCE, Doula
Downtown Albany FLC
I am a mother, artist, certified childbirth educator and birth doula. I have been assisting women with doula care and childbirth education since 2011. I was called to this work after having profound, empowering personal experiences birthing each of my daughters. It is my belief that all women deserve sage and compassionate support during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period. Giving birth is an intimate, personal experience. For this reason, I am dedicated to supporting women and families in their specific birth choices and needs. The core of my doula philosophy is personal connection and individualized care. I strive to provide new parents with sound, evidence-based information and strong compassionate support throughout this magical time.
Laura Simpson, RN, Doula
Downtown Albany and Saratoga Springs FLC
As a birth assistant with the Family Life Center, I come with a solid background in women’s and children’s care which has been tested in a variety of settings. In 1995, I graduated from nursing school and over the years I have worked in Pediatrics, NICU and Postpartum as a clinical floor nurse for INOVA Hospitals. In 2007, I shifted my focus to community based health care, assisting midwives in a free standing birth center and at homebirths. I also support families by offering birth doula services. The important aspect of my nursing practice which I keep returning to is health counseling and provision of care that is supportive of well-being. This is why I feel blessed to be part of FLC team of professionals that has been providing holistic care for decades.
Rose Mitchell-Tenerowicz, CD(DTI)
Downtown Albany FLC
I am a mother, wife, doula, photographer, gardener, artist and more. In my first year of motherhood, I found my ideals as a feminist, a social justice activist and a mom intersecting at the childbirth experience. I came to the realization that the whole world is powered by mothers; I acknowledged that I had been bit by the birth junky bug; I became a doula. I began working at the Family Life Center in 2013, and I am proud to serve as the Center Manager and to be a part of this amazing organization. Helping to provide the quality education and services that are offered here is an honor and a pleasure.
I believe that women should enter motherhood empowered by their birth experience. As the keystones of their families, women need to be supported through the transitions that come with new babies. I have found an incredible strength in myself as I have grown into my roles as both mother and doula, and I enjoy serving women and their families with this strength. I also love documenting this time as a birth photographer. Showing mothers images of their incredible strength and beauty as they deliver their babies is an absolute thrill.