Discovering the Essence of Doula Services with Jesse Muzzy

Discovering the Essence of Doula Services with Jesse Muzzy

Hello, dear readers! I had the privilege of interviewing Jesse Muzzy, the owner of Free Body Fertility, where she offers group cycle mapping courses, individual fertility coaching, and her newest addition: doula services. During this conversation, Jesse shared that deeply personal circumstances ignited her journey into working with women on their reproductive care. Her early introduction to hormonal birth control and a life-threatening encounter with a copper IUD all served to root her into her commitment to advocating for natural family planning and the empowerment of pregnant people.

If you've been following along with the KeepingSpirit blog, you've seen I've already written about the importance of death doulas. So, although I initially connected with Jesse by taking one of her cycle mapping courses (which was amazing and eye-opening!!), I was particularly excited to explore the role of birth doulas to share with you.

Through this interaction, I saw so many similarities between the two types of doula services and realized that so much of being a doula in one form or another comes down to advocacy. During our conversation, we also touched on the cultural significance of women's health and the importance of continuous support from community-based doulas, especially during the postpartum period. On the more shocking side of the conversation, Jesse shares some alarming insights into the maternal health crisis, particularly emphasizing the risks associated with hospital births and the pivotal role doula care provides to ensure a positive birth experience.

Through Jesse's eyes, I saw again the undeniable value of care plans that include doula support. It's about providing a holistic blend of emotional support, physical support, and educational empowerment to expectant mothers and new families. This brief glimpse into our conversation is just the beginning, so let's dive into Jesse Muzzy's inspiring journey and the indispensable role of experience doulas in the beautiful journey of motherhood.

Exploring Doula Services: A Conversation with Jesse Muzzy

As a certified birth doula, Jesse shares that she is fundamentally a birth support person who acts as a labor coach and focuses on the educational and supportive elements that aren't inherently present in our Western health systems or communities. With this in mind, it's important to note that a certified doula is distinct from medical professionals like midwives or OB/GYNs who can prescribe pain medication. A birth doula's primary role is not medical care but focuses on providing continuous emotional and physical support to the birthing person. As she puts it, "The role of a doula is really there to help educate and advocate and then provide support in that throughout that whole process."

What exactly do doulas do?

Doula providers help pregnant women prepare for the birthing process, guiding them through the many decisions they face. Working with the right doula ensures they will advocate for the birther's wishes, ensuring that the birther's voice is heard and respected by the hospital staff and healthcare providers.

The end goal is to ensure that their birth plan is respected and followed as closely as possible for a safe birth for both the mother and the new baby, although she also made it clear that despite the best-laid plans, sometimes births take on a life of their own (pun intended!).

Jesse shares that in the intense throws of labor, having a doula there helps to remind you of all of your options and the possibilities when you aren't necessarily in a frame of mind to remember for your Self. Jesse shared some of the suggestions she might make to someone in labor, "You've been in this position for a really long time. It looks like you're getting tired. Do you want to try a different position and just labor in that for a while? The doula is the one saying, do you want to try eating something during contractions? Remember, these are the snacks that I brought for you. Does any of this look good?" 

In addition to advocacy and perfectly timed reminders for snacks (doulas are awesome, huh?), they offer comfort through various non-med pain relief and relaxation techniques, such as massage or breathing exercises, and provide emotional reassurance and encouragement to help reduce anxiety and fear. Jesse highlights the importance of creating a calm environment where the birther feels safe and supported. 

In Jesse's experience, doula services also encompasses supporting the partner or family members, helping them to be involved in the birth meaningfully. This holistic approach to support not only aids in a positive birth experience but also promotes a smoother transition into the postpartum period.

Jesse Muzzy's Path to Sharing her Doula Services

Jesse's journey to becoming a doula and fertility coach was both compelling and deeply personal. She recounted her teenage years, saying, "I was put on the birth control pill when I was 15...," a decision made with little understanding of its implications. It wasn't until her early twenties that someone told her to listen to a Joe Rogan podcast (of all things!), where she first learned of the severe risks involved with hormonal birth control. "It was the first time I'd ever heard anybody talk about any real serious risks from using hormonal birth control." This revelation ignited her passion for fertility awareness and natural methods of contraception. 

Reproductive Health: What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us

In seeking other options than hormonal birth control, Jesse looked to what felt like the next best thing: a copper IUD. However, her experience turned into a harrowing episode that further fueled her commitment to advocating for informed choices in reproductive health. The insertion process was agonizing, "For me, it was an excruciating process getting it inserted. I couldn't even drive myself home. I was like fainting from pain. And then for the next four months, I was having really intense cramping, really heavy bleeding with my periods. 

Clearly, the IUD wasn't the answer she hoped for, so she had it removed. However, only two short weeks later, she discovered she was pregnant. The complications escalated when it was revealed that the pregnancy was ectopic, with the egg implanting in her cervix. This rare and dangerous situation led to her treatment with a chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, in an attempt to address the issue without surgery. Despite this intervention, the situation did not improve, and Jesse faced the possibility of a hysterectomy if severe hemorrhaging occurred during the surgical removal of the ectopic pregnancy. Understandably, this experience was a significant turning point in her life, profoundly influencing her path toward becoming a fertility awareness educator.

Offering Her Doula Services for the First Time

Jesse's first birth as a birth worker occurred at a local birth center in Massachusetts, notably the state's only independent birth center. Jesse described the experience as incredibly swift and relatively smooth. Upon arriving at the birth center, the labor progressed quickly. Within about 20 minutes of getting into a bathtub at the center, the mother began pushing, and the baby was born within an hour of their arrival.

Jesse's first experience as a trained professional demonstrated the power of mental focus and breathing techniques in facilitating labor. She remarked, "This woman breathed her way through the entire labor, the entire birth, on her own. That baby was born because this woman knew how to breathe." Although the birth process in this instance went perfectly, I reminded Jesse that although she may not have had to be super active in guiding the woman through the active birthing process, it seems the positive effects of her guidance beforehand and her presence at the birth helped the woman feel comfortable enough that she could focus completely on her own experience and inner wisdom.

The Role of Community and Support in Doula Services

In our discussion, Jesse emphasized the importance of community support in the journey of new parents and expectant mothers. "We live in a culture where when you need help, you outsource that you hire somebody," she remarked, pointing to the need for more community-based doulas and supportive networks that can offer continuous support to new families, especially during the postpartum period.  

The Alarming State of Maternal Healthcare

"The United States actually has the highest maternal mortality rate out of any high-income country in the world," Jesse noted. Contrary to common perceptions, the decision to give birth in a hospital can actually increase the chances of interventions such as cesarean section and other complications that might come along with a vaginal birth. She pointed out that in the United States, the highly medicalized approach to childbirth differs significantly from practices in many different countries where there are better birth outcomes. This medicalization, Jesse suggests, contributes to the higher rates of intervention and complications during hospital births compared to birth centers or having a home birth. 

Conclusion: Thanks to All the Doulas

To me, supporting the pivotal transitions between life and death is one of the most incredible roles a person can have. I've even been drawn to learn how to become a doula myself, but I don't know if I could manage to be an emotional pillar well enough in those critical moments.

Reflecting on my conversation with Jesse, I'm inspired by the resilience and strength of those embarking on the journey of childbirth and parenting. Doula services, whether offered by individual doulas, community-based doula programs, or experienced postpartum doulas, provide invaluable support at every step. From prenatal care to the birth of their baby and into the postpartum period, doulas offer non-medical support, emotional guidance, and physical support that can make a big difference in the experiences of new parents and expectant mothers.

As we embrace the role of professional doulas in our healthcare system, let us remember the importance of advocacy, informed choice, and compassionate care. Doula work is not just about supporting the birthing person; it's about nurturing the entire family, advocating for better healthcare practices, and ensuring that every person's journey to parenthood is respected, supported, and celebrated.

Thank you, Jesse, for your wisdom and dedication to this beautiful and essential work. And to all the doulas out there, thank you for being the guiding light for so many families. You truly are miracles in the world of maternal health every day.

Resources form the Interview!

Taking Charge of Your Fertility Book

Sing up for the Red Tent

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