"The peace that we are looking for is not peace that crumbles as soon as there is difficulty or chaos. Whether we're seeking inner peace or global peace or a combination of the two, the way to experience it is to build on the foundation of unconditional openness to all that arises. Peace isn't an experience free of challenges, free of rough and smooth, it's an experience that's expansive enough to include all that arises without feeling threatened." Pema Chodron
Services: Birth Doula, Postpartum Doula, Registered Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga Teacher, CPR + AED certified (infant, child, and adult), trained in Acupressure for Birth, and Spinning Babies for Optimal Fetal Positioning
Years in Business: 1
Clients served: 8 (and growing!)
When meeting Jess, you can feel her quiet and peaceful energy. She brings calm to a room when she arrives. In the following interview, you’ll learn more about this sincere, self-reflective and knowledgeable woman. If I were to summarize Jess in one word, I’d use “reassuring.” I can only imagine what her calm presence would bring to a birth or postpartum room and recommend all families to check on her availability for birth or postpartum or check out one of yoga classes.
Jess is the second doulas featured for Who is Richmond Doulas. If you want more info on what the series is about, click here.
What do you love most about doula work?
I love the first hour after birth, when the parents meet their little one for the first time and quietly marvel at their new family member. It feels so sacred.
What is your least favorite aspect about doula work?
The hours aren't great. ;)
Favorite thing to do when you are not on call?
Most of my favorite things (reading, crocheting, sitting in sunshine - I'm easily entertained) can be done while I'm on call, but I love camping at the beach with my family!
What does your partner think about your doula work/job?
My husband loves that I love this work. He understands the importance and the demands of the job, and he’s completely supportive. He's made me coffee while I prepared to leave at 11pm, he's turned around on the way to work to take over kid-care while I left for an early morning birth, and when I’m fretting about juggling everything while being on call he always says, “Don’t worry about the kids, or the dog, or the house, I’ll take care of it.” He’s an excellent human!
Do you think it’s important to have your partner’s support and why?
Of course! It’s essential to have the people in your life support you.
How many children do you have?
What is the most difficult part of parenting regarding being a doula?
I’m the primary caregiver for our children, so there’s always a juggle between that and my out-of-the-house work. Birth happens any time, any day. I have to be flexible with the kids and have back-up plans for my back-up plans.
Do you have any certifications or degrees?
I’m a Registered Yoga Teacher 200, and a Registered Prenatal Yoga Teacher 85. I’m going back to school in the fall semester of 2017 to pursue nursing and ultimately midwifery.
What drew you to doula work?
The birth of my first son created a paradigm shift in me. Childbirth acted like a catalyst, and disrupted a lot of things I thought I knew. I transformed over the early years of mothering. While my own experience ended up being very positive, everything I went through was immensely challenging. Having support for this process is crucial. We’re not meant to do life alone. I feel that the transitional time from pregnancy to the first year postpartum has the potential to change our lives, our community, and our world. I want to assist and support women during this immense change, and make it as peaceful and holistic as possible.
Do you feel that your own births colored your doula experience?
Oh yes, I wouldn’t even be on this path without my own experience leading me here.
What are your future goals with doula work?
I plan to continue working as a doula for at least the next 3 years while I complete my degree in nursing. I hope as an obstetrical nurse I can help normalize doula support in a medical setting and be part of positive changes to maternity care.
Do you do anything besides doula work?
I teach Prenatal Yoga classes twice a week in Midlothian!
Do you have a favorite birth you attended? What made it special?
I end up loving every mom I assist, whether it’s through doula work or in a prenatal yoga class. There was a midwife who basically said (I’m paraphrasing), “How could you not fall in love with a person who is being so present with their life, and working so hard?” As a doula I get to see people at their most Real. It’s an incredible privilege. It restores my faith in humanity.
The moms are the heroes. Pam England talks about how the childbearing year is "the hero's journey". I love that.
If you could have one super power, what would it be? Invisibility! I’m so jealous of Harry Potter’s cloak.
When you were a child, what did you want to grow up to be?
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Besides that, I flip-flopped between veterinarian and author.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate!
Dogs or cats? Yes.
Favorite seasons and why:
I like the end-of-summer micro-season. The kids go back to school. The days cool off, but aren’t chilly. You can still do summery things, but the pace has slowed way down. There’s still summer fruits and vegetables, and the autumn ones are coming around too. Sunflowers everywhere. Ooh, and the light gets all golden in mid September. It’s perfection.
What’s in your doula bag?
Fans, ice pack, essential oils, a rebozo, twinkly lights, affirmations, a copy of The Birth Partner, massage oil, snacks.
Number one book moms should read before giving birth:
Number one book moms should read before breastfeeding:
I like Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding, but I think if you have to pick just one, go for The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by La Leche League. It’s got wonderful wisdom and it’s easy to search when you have questions.
Best breastfeeding advice you offer:
“Watch the baby, not the clock”, as in, learn your baby’s hunger cues and don’t worry that “it’s not time yet”. Also, get support! Go to La Leche League and make some lactating mom friends! Again, we’re not meant to do it alone.
Best labor advice you offer:
Ignore it until you can’t. Use the BRAIN acronym for making decisions (benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, and [doing] nothing). And hire a doula. :)