Dana Ramsey Finds Fertile Ground in Santa Cruz
Welcome back to our monthly feature of moms who have faced the task of pandemic parenting while also continuing their work in our community. Research has shown that women have suffered greater economic and personal fallout from the pandemic, losing jobs or having to work while also caring for children.
When she opened her new business two-and-a-half months before Covid-19 hit Santa Cruz, Dana Ramsey remembers feeling her stress level dive.
“It was life-changing to go from practicing full-scope midwifery for the past 15 years to a much slower-paced, patient-focused practice,” Dana remembers. “It gave me flexibility to pick my kids up from school, take them to afterschool activities, and just be more present.”
Dana had opened Nurture Women’s Health and Fertility, an integrative gynecology practice with a focus on fertility, menopause, and postpartum care. Her budding business provided care to pregnant and postpartum women—“everything but delivering babies.”
That was quite a change.
From doctor to midwife
Dana knew from an early age that she wanted to deliver babies. Each summer when she came home to Santa Cruz from college—just to make sure—she did a student internship. The second summer, instead of being assigned to help doctors, she was assigned to midwives.
“I got to see how much time the midwives got to spend with the patients,” Dana remembers. “That summer I said to my mom, ‘I thought I’ve been pre-med—I thought I wanted to be an OB-Gyn. I actually have been pre-midwife all this time!’”
Instead of applying to medical schools, she applied to nursing schools and ended up with a master’s degree in nursing with a specialty in midwifery from Yale University.
Years of working in the field followed, most recently 11 years at Palo Alto Medical Foundation in Santa Cruz. She did every aspect of care for women, and saw an average of 20 patients a day. With two children growing up fast, she knew it was time for a change.
A fledgling small business
Dana remembers her two months of normalcy with fondness. She had decided to specialize in fertility because there were no fertility clinics in Santa Cruz. Because she is not an endocrinologist and wouldn’t offer full in-vitro fertilization (IVF), which is often the last resort for women seeking fertility treatment, she figured that lots of women would try her services first. She was right.
“I do the full workup,” Dana explains. “I do a lot of lifestyle medicine management. There’s a lot that can be optimized in women’s well-care as well as fertility, that’s kind of by the wayside in traditional [fertility] practices. It makes sense to offer that here before they drive over the hill.”
She was able to finish cycles (treatments based on a woman’s hormonal cycles) with a few of her patients before she had to push the pause button. Patients were disappointed, but her family—her husband, 8-year-old twin boys, and 13-year-old daughter—had to come first.
Keeping a grateful heart
“It was a huge stress on the family dynamics,” Dana says. “We used to ask my in-laws to fill in here and there, and then we were asking them to fill in full weeks. The hardest thing was my relationship with my husband, because we didn’t have the time together to have good communication, to connect, and we didn’t have babysitters. There was more quality time but there was also more frustrated time!”
The twins also did not thrive in front of screens.
“We started thinking about how we could use our neighborhood to keep them busy and get their activity and energy out,” Dana remembers. “We live in a small neighborhood where everybody knows each other. It was beautiful, we have several retired people and they all were so understanding.”
Eventually Dana was able to open her practice back up, and found a pocket of need. Because of the pandemic, large clinics had wait times up to six months. She was able to see patients immediately and in a more intimate environment. Once they were in the door, they realized the value of her approach.
“She is one of the most genuine and hardest working women/mamas I know,” says Roxanne Sweeting, who nominated Dana for this article. “She is a gift to our community.”
Dana says that she has taught her children to be mindful of worrying only about things that they can control, and she tries to live by that advice herself.
“Leading by example is really important in the community,” she says. “It turns our heart from, ‘Oh, this is such a bummer’ to more of a grateful heart.”
Learn more about Dana and Nurture Women’s Health and Fertility at NurtureSantaCruz.com.