Featured doula: Jay Rodriguez
Jay is the owner of The Great Northwest Doula Service in San Antonio Texas where he is a Birth and Postpartum Doula and Childbirth Educator serving the Alamo city and surrounding counties He is one of only two Male Doulas in this region. Jay believes his truest calling in life and frank passion is to help those in need and can think of no better way to do this than by working with pregnant and postpartum families. In addition to Birthwork, he works as an Emergency Room Paramedic and is studying to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). He has been prominently featured in The Huffington Post and Romper.com
1.What inspired you to begin your doula journey?
I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and birth but never considered birthwork a realistic
career choice for me, because of my gender. In 2015 while doing a large independent study for my second Bachelor’s Degree, I interviewed a CPM (out of hospital Midwife) and among many other questions, I asked if she believed that there was a gender bias in Obstetrics. Her reply would change my life. She stated simply “I don’t care what gender you are if you can do the job and do it well that is all that matters” At that time for a myriad of reasons EMS had begun to frustrate me and a change was needed. The more I looked into Midwifery, the clearer it became that this was the change needed in my life. However, at the same time, my wife and I were looking to relocate to Washington State from my native South Texas. So, the constraints for Midwifery school were not feasible with this move. However, during my research, it became clear that most Midwifery schools wanted birthwork experience. So, I talked to my one birthwork friend on Facebook (at that time) about becoming a Doula. I quickly found out that you could continue to work a regular job while also becoming a Doula. I enrolled at Doula Trainings International, The Great Northwest Doula Service was born a few short months later, and I entered Midwifery School in the fall of 2018.
2. What training/experience do you have?
I grew up in a family of Doctors, and by the age of eight had viewed many things your typical
medical student had never seen let alone someone in elementary school. The more I saw, the
more fascinating it became to me. Because of this, I read any book I could get my hands on,
undertaken any medical training course that would have me, and done any experience that would
further my knowledge. Over the years, these courses and experiences in addition to my
substantial training in EMS, have allowed me to bring a considerable amount of knowledge and
usable information to the table for my clients to readily access. Additionally, it allows me to be
able to easily communicate with both the medical staff and my clients in addition to
understanding the perspectives and rationales of both. This comes in handy when I am
translating the “medicalese” for my clients and conveying their wishes to the medical staff.
In addition to my College degrees, EMS, and Instructor licensures I hold 2
certifications each in Obstetrics, Neonatology, and Pediatrics.
3. What is your purpose/mission/style as a doula?
My purpose and mission is simple: I want you to have your best birth, the easiest transition home
and leave my class feeling knowledgeable and ready to perform your skills or tackle labor. I
want you to walk into that hospital, birthcenter, or living room fully informed of your options
with a rock-solid birth plan and ready to welcome your newest little one into the world. I want
your transition home and those crucial first few weeks to be as easy and seamless as possible.
And I want you to leave my class knowing exactly what to expect from labor or precisely how to
save someone’s life.
4. What makes you unique as a doula?
You mean other than being a Male in a predominantly Female field? Outside of this small fact,
my extensive medical training and vast knowledge of medicine and medical procedure I believe
really set me apart. I am willing to answer questions most other Doulas won't and in that same
vein offer opinions, most other Doulas can’t. When a client comes to me curious about why a
provider wants to run a certain test, what that test might show, or simply whether their issue is
normal, instead of referring them back to their provider I provide them with solid, fact-based
information. This particular skill set has been especially useful with high-risk clients.
5. How do you think doula’s positively impact birth?
Educate: people fear what they don’t understand. As a Doula a big part of my job is to get the
client to see that the only thing to fear is fear itself. Knowledge truly is power and the absolute
best way to conquer any fear. Whether it is during my childbirth class or on the fly in the middle
of the labor room I want any client I am working with to know that Birth is a normal, physiologic
process and nothing to be afraid of. By knowing what to expect, that fear is not only conquered, it is gone.
Advocate: At beginning of working with any client I have them fill out a pretty lengthy intake
form in addition to a sit-down meeting where I really listen to both her and her partner’s wishes,
requests, and dreams for the upcoming birth. I then take all of this information and craft it into a
rock-solid birth plan so that on the day they head to the hospital, birthcenter, or their own living
room everyone is on the same page as to what the client wants to happen. I also work with the
partner to make sure that the client is getting each and every need met. If necessary, I help
support the partner as he or she advocates for the client. Simply put: it is her birth, her way.
Support: Every birthing person whether they are laboring medicated or unmedicated, reaches a
point in labor (usually transition) where they hit the proverbial wall. It is my job as their doula to
get them to see that they can do this! They are doing this and the reward at the end is going to be
spectacular! I also make it a point to check in with the partner and make sure that they are doing
ok, they understand what is going on and how to best support their partner through this life
changing process. As I often say, while the birthing person is the star of the show, I am there
for the supporting cast as well! Sometimes it is through touch, other times it is simply telling
them they can do this, sometimes it is just being present in that room, in that moment. More than
anything else a Doula does, we support we help, we are simply there.
Empower: I want every client that chooses me as their Doula to be empowered and most
importantly, feel empowered throughout our time together. Birth is a momentous and miraculous
thing and she should feel empowered as she holds that little one in her arms for the first time
with the knowledge that she birthed her child, she did it! If she doesn’t, then I haven’t fully done
my job. The interesting thing is empowerment is patently individualistic, so my job as a doula is
partly to figure out where her empowerment lies and not only embrace it but highlight it.
6. What advice would you give someone looking to hire a doula?
I would tell them 3 things:
1) think about why it is you want a Doula, and do your research.
Different Doulas will bring different skill sets and life experiences to the table; you want the one
who will best match the needs you have. No matter how outlandish I guarantee you there is a
Doula out there for you and your situation!
2) Be realistic with your expectations. No matter how structured your birthplan is and how detailed you want it to be, things happen, and your plan may not always be able to be followed to the letter. That is not your Doula’s fault or your own, that is life! However, in those situations, having a Doula will help you navigate those new unstructured
waters much easier than if you were doing it without one.
3) Be open to Doulas that are different.
Male Doulas, Gay doulas, Trans Doulas, everyone brings something unique to the table. While
based on a picture and paragraph they may not seem like your ideal match, however, when you
meet them in person they just might be. Ever hear the phrase opposites attract? The same rule
sometimes applies to Doulas!
If you are interested in Birth, Postpartum, or Educational services, or would simply like to know
Please visit our website: www.greatnorthwestdoula.com
Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or give us a call: (281) 467-1795
We look forward to hearing from you!