Jessica was recently interviewed by Mollie of Fit Fab FODMAP about her journey into doula work.
Jessica, I was introduced to you through a friend who raved about you so highly! I can easily say you lived up to the hype and made a difficult delivery so much easier having you by my side or really leg (as you were holding my leg through all my pushing). ;)
Tell us a little about yourself! What led you in the direction of becoming a doula?
Well, I’m a mother of two little girls,15 months and 4 years, and that alone takes up most of my time! I love to read and I’m passionate about advocating for reproductive health for Houston’s LGBTQ community and reducing the maternal mortality rate among women of color. I’ve worked as a doula for close to ten years now and as of a few days ago I’ve helped welcome 375 babies into the world. I started out as medical assistant at the University of Texas Maternal Health clinics and fell in love with working with moms and babies. The group I worked with had midwives for low risk pregnancies and OB’s and MFM’s (Maternal Fetal Medicine) for higher risk folks. It was a balance of physiological birth and medical intervention when needed. I started attending births “for fun” and was really shocked at how little emotional support women were receiving during labor but was unsure how to help. Fast forward 10 years and I decided that it was time to make the leap into a calling I never forgot about and now here we are 10 years later.
Can you explain the difference between a midwife and a doula? I got asked that all the time when I said I was working with you.
A midwife is your care provider. They do all the things your OB would do except a surgical birth. Midwifery care is different in that it focuses on the whole person and views pregnancy and birth as normal life events and not an illness. Your visits are typically longer, more personal and support continues into the fourth trimester. Doulas are members of your support team. We focus on getting you and your partner mentally and emotionally prepared for birth and early postpartum. Our goal during birth is to provide physical comfort and to ensure that you and your partner are always a part of the decision making process.
The Birth Gods like to make you cry uncle before you get to hold your baby and I think it’s beautiful. You can’t walk out the same person as you were when you walked in; you just can’t.
What I love the most about your attitude about labor and delivery is that there is no right or wrong. I was nervous in the beginning that you would be anti-pain medication, but you only wanted me to have the best experience possible. How do you help a new mom decide what is the best birth plan for her?
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is that birth can rarely be planned. The process of birthing a baby is supposed to break you down.The Birth Gods like to make you cry uncle before you get to hold your baby and I think it’s beautiful. You can’t walk out the same person as you were when you walked in; you just can’t The Mollie that didn’t have a baby walking into the hospital was not the Mollie that walked out, She experienced something so transformative that she will never be the same. It was hard and ugly AND it was full of beauty and magic. So with that in mind I try to help expectant families understand that labor is not linear, there will undoubtedly be unexpected twist and turns and how flexible your are to those challenges will determine how you will walk away feeling about your experience. I also want couples to feel that their care team is hearing them so I encourage them to keep line of communication open and active during the pregnancy. There are so many variables in labor that it’s impossible to account for all of them when “planning” your birth. My goal is to encourage my clients to do all they can during pregnancy to prepare their body and mind for labor and then we show up on game day and see what the Birth Gods have to offer.