Who is Richmond Doulas: Joy Kraynak

By: Gloria Miles

Doula Spotlight
Joy Kraynak

Business Name: Joyful Birth
Services: Birth Doula; Hypnobirthing Instructor; Photography; Acupressure; Breastfeeding Counselor; Placenta Encapsulation
Years in Business: 4+
Max clients per month: 2
Clients served: over 200 (including childbirth education); 63 birth doula clients

Joy was so much fun to interview. I would sum her up in a few words: amicable, knowledgeable, and funny. It's easy to see how so many people love her and enjoy her classes.

Usually, the first question people want to know is how did you get into doula or birth work?

It began with teaching Hypnobirthing to couples. After weeks of interacting with them in the class, we’d develop a relationship and they would invite me to their births. At first, I thought that it would make me a better instructor, more well-rounded. However, after the first birth I realized it was so much more than that. I’d go on to receive my doula certification through DONA.

How long have you been a Hypnobirthing instructor?

A little over four years.

How did you get into Hypnobirthing?

When I was pregnant, I was not prepared at all. I literally thought that the only practical way to have a baby was to go to the hospital, get completely knocked out, and have a cesarean. Crazy, I know, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around labor and pushing a baby out.

I told my mom and she was like, “No.” [laughs] So she signed me up for Hypnobirthing classes. When I first went to class, I wasn’t sure about it at all. I didn’t think it was for me. But I went every week and I practiced the techniques every day. First, it was easier to do that than argue. Second, the techniques felt nice and I liked doing them after a while.

Even after all the practice and weeks of attending Hypnobirthing, I still walked into the hospital thinking, ‘Okay, when this gets bad, I’m asking them to knock me out and do a cesarean.’ I didn’t think Hypnobirthing would help. It was just something that I had gone long with.

And, you know what? It never got bad. I ended up just having a great experience.

Ten years later, I’d begin my training to be a Hypnobirthing instructor. It was the start of a great career in birth work.

You said that you do labor photography? Do you offer that in conjunction with your doula package?

The photography package is separate from being a doula. I like to focus entirely on photographing the event or providing labor support.

Tell me more about the breastfeeding support you offer.

I am a Certified Breastfeeding Counselor. I give support either through the phone or in person. I sought certification, because I wanted to offer my clients better support.  

You also encapsulate placentas, too?

Yes, and I’m also certified with that. It’s made a noticeable difference in most my clients. I highly recommend it for any new mom that’s interested.

What do you feel is the hardest part about life on call?

I think two things: less sleep and explaining what on call means. Being on call means adding “Unless I’m at a birth,” to most invitations. Some people are very understanding, but others aren’t very receptive. I think they feel I can just call back up to the birth and obviously that’s not feasible.

If someone were to come up to you and tell you they wanted to become a doula as well, what would be your biggest piece of advice for them?

It’s a great calling, but you should be really aware of what you are signing up for.

What’s your best advice for moms-to-be?

Take time for yourself. Ask for help.

Do you have a birth philosophy?

I think that my philosophy for birth work is anything that allows the mother to have a satisfying birth experience. My job is support this person in any way she feels is best for her and her family. Her experience, her beliefs are what matter most.

What’s your favorite part of being a birth worker?

As a doula, I like seeing the pride that new families have after a birth.

As a Hypnobirthing instructor, I get to see women’s confidence evolve from the first day of class when they’re a little unsure or even afraid of this process….but then they go through class, they practice their techniques at home, and you see this calmness and confidence before they actually deliver. It’s a great transformation.

If you weren’t a birth worker, what would you be doing?

I used to be a teacher, so maybe I’d still teach Math. I’m not sure, though. This is such a big part of who I am that it’s hard to imagine anything else.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies?

I bird watch! I can identify many different birds by sight and even by their calls!

Are there any big plans in the future that we should be looking out for?

Yes! I’m so excited about starting school to become a Certified Hypnotherapist. First, it will allow me to be a Hypnobirthing trainer, meaning I can train others to teach. Second, I am going to expand beyond just birth. As a Hypnotherapist, I can help others with a lot of things. It can help with so many things, like overcoming traumatic experiences or smoking cessation. I’m very excited to start school this fall.

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[Note: I use the gender pronoun "she" throughout the post, though men and/or those who do not identify as female may also become doulas and midwives. This is for simplicity's sake and not to be exclusive.]

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Jess is the second doulas featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.  

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I love watching strangers stroll by on warm summer evenings, hand in hand. I wonder if they're parents, out on a date, acting as if they are high school sweethearts again. I wonder if they're discussing their children or the show they just watched or even politics. If nothing else, I'm witnessing a small glimmer, a small story of a lifetime.

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