Dr. Sarah Mickeler is a pre and post-natal chiropractor and founder of West End Mamas
What is your morning routine?
I get up at 6:30 a.m. My morning starts with a cup of coffee in front of the computer while I organize my day. As a busy entrepreneur, my day’s schedule is never the same as when I went to bed the night before, so I’m always making adjustments. By 7:30 a.m. I get my two and a half-year-old son Owen out of bed and we have breakfast as a family, which is really important to me. My husband usually gets him off to daycare and I head out to work. My husband is a firefighter and is home most days, which helps us juggle everything.
Tell us about your career path.
I started as a family chiropractor but I didn’t find my true calling until I started treating pregnant women. I furthered my education by taking courses all across North America, and more and more expectant mothers started coming through my doors. Eventually I started working exclusively with prenatal and postpartum women. It was both terrifying and exhilarating to focus on such a small segment of the population, especially as a young entrepreneur. But within six months of focusing exclusively on these women, my practice doubled, my expertise grew, and I knew I was onto something.
From there, I started working with midwives and brought a pelvic floor physiotherapist and a registered massage therapist on board. Somewhere in between, I had a baby. Soon after, I realized that unlike other cultures, there was no village of support for new moms in Toronto. We are parenting in isolation. That’s where I got the inspiration to build a space with qualified professionals that could be a part of that village.
What challenges do you or women face in your industry?
Until the late ’90s it was a male-dominated industry, but today more than 50 per cent of chiropractic grads in Canada are women. Luckily, that means we don’t have the same challenges women might face in other industries. But balancing being a mom and having a practice is still really tough. It’s especially hard if you’re a business owner or leader, but then again, that’s part of what makes me feel so fulfilled. Building and managing a successful practice, being a mom, and maintaining relationships and a social life is by far the biggest challenge.
What advice would you give to young girls who want to be the NEXT you?
I’m an extroverted introvert. I’m brought out of my shell by my really high work ethic, and I’m fuelled by doing what I love. I’ve always been inspired to do more and be fulfilled. So, as cliché as it may sound, my advice is to work hard and follow your passion. It’s not about the paycheque. Working with moms and moms-to-be is a gift, and I’m so happy I found my calling.
How do you separate work life from your personal life?
My husband would say I don’t – and I think that’s okay. It’s tough to make that separation when you work in a care profession. Sometimes that means calling a patient I’m concerned about after hours, or leaving a meal delivery on the doorstep for a new mom who’s struggling to cope. It’s a really important time in women’s lives, and I can’t turn that off, but I also recognize the value of taking time for my own personal relationships. My husband and I both worked 18 hour days to get West End Mamas up and running, so we recently took a timeout to head up to Collingwood for an escape, just the two of us. I try to take regular vacations for a reset as well. I also only treat patients three days a week to give me time to focus on running the business, workshops, and making connections within the community.
What inspires you?
My patients. Seeing their struggles, their successes and how they make motherhood work inspires me every day. It’s really hard to be a new mom, and too many people are doing it alone. It’s easier when you have the support of a community. Being part of that strong, female-positive community is another reason why I opened West End Mamas. I thought about all the things that kept me from going out when I was a new mom and tried to break down those barriers. That’s where ideas like having stroller parking and locks and child minding came from. I hope every mother will feel comfortable coming by for a seminar, joining a free meeting in our breastfeeding cafe, or just stopping in for tea and saying hi.
When you’re off the clock, what are your indulgences?
My husband and I really love to cook together, and our toddler son is looking like he has the foodie gene too. We’ll often go shopping as a family and then cook up a nice meal together. We also like to spend time at the cottage. I try to get up there every weekend in the summer, if I can.