You don’t want to miss our August meeting! Jay Rodriguez is one of our guest speakers and is going to be presenting on male Doulas! We had a chance to interview Jay and learn more about his services. Jay Rodriguez brings a fresh perspective to Doula work as a professional paramedic. Check out his unique experience from our interview!
(Information about meeting time and location is at the end of this post)
Name: Jay Rodriguez BS NRP CD/CBE (DTI)
Title: Birth and Postpartum Doula, Childbirth and Medical Educator, Paramedic
Phone: Office (253)750-4281 Cell (281)467-1795
How did you get into this work?
How I found my calling is a bit of a long story, lol. I have always been fascinated by pregnancy and birth, but because I was a male, I did not feel it was a feasible career choice for me unless I had an MD after my name. This sentiment was later enforced when I was in Paramedic school and required to spend a shift in L&D as part of my training. I was only allowed to observe 2 deliveries in the hospital both of which were completely against the wishes of the nursing staff.
Fast forward nine years to the summer of 2015 when I was working on my second Bachelors degree (which was in EMS). I created and undertook a large independent study to train myself on high risk OB and obstetrical complications that I could realistically see in the back of the ambulance but was never taught how to handle in Paramedic school. During this course I interviewed a Male OB and a Female Homebirth Midwife, asking them almost virtually the same questions. While the OB kept blowing off my questions, the Midwife took several hours and really answered all of my questions in depth using many models to illustrate what she was saying. During this interview, I asked both of them the same question: “do you think that there is a gender bias in Obstetrics?” The OB stated simply “there are many OB’s around here so if a patient is not comfortable seeing me there is many other places she can go.” The Midwifes answer however, really stuck with me. She stated: “I don’t care what gender you are, as long as you can do the job and do it well, that should be all that matters.” I went home that night and began really thinking about what she had said. I had become frustrated with EMS at that time and was tired of being put in a situation where my education far surpassed where my skills were allowed to go. I decided it was time for a change.
I had a long talk with my wife and some close friends and decided I wanted to become a Midwife. However at that same time, we were looking at moving to the Pacific Northwest so my wife could attain her Master’s Degree. Because of the time constraints necessary for a Midwifery Apprenticeship, traveling that path would not be realistic until she was done with school. However when I looked into the admission requirements for Midwifery school, most of them wanted you to be a Doula, or have some other form of prior birthwork experience before entering.
When I researched Doula training, I quickly realized it was something I could potentially stretch around my work schedule. Therefore after talking to the one Doula friend I had on Facebook (at that time) I joined Doula Trainings International (DTI) in October of 2016 to begin my training. In November of 2016, The Great Northwest Doula Service was born. In the fall of 2018 I begin Midwifery School at the Midwives College of Utah!
Tell us about your business and the services you provide.
The Great Northwest Doula Service was established in late 2016 and is one of three Male run Doula organizations in the South Sound! We offer a variety of services that cater to new and growing families from pregnancy to postpartum and beyond. We have also been featured on The Huffington Post, Romper.com and Talk and Tea with Dr. Cheryl Schmitt.
Birth Doula Services
As a Birth Doula I am there with you through every step of the process. My goal is to support you and your partner during one of the greatest journeys life has to offer: bringing your newest family member into the world. Typically I meet with you and your partner for an initial consultation and if we mutually decide to work together we sign a contract and I am fully at your service from that point on. Prior to the big day we meet twice for prenatal consultations where we can go over a variety of different things that you may want to know about or that you are concerned about. I can also help you construct a rock solid birth plan or we could do some Childbirth Education! My goal during this time is to insure you and your partner are fully informed and totally prepared for the big day. You can also contact me during this time through text, social media or simply giving me a call.
On the day you go into labor, from the time you contact me I am with you for the duration no matter the length. During this time, I can help you or your partner translate the “medicalese” spoken by your provider or the medical staff, in addition to helping both of you make informed and educated decisions for any last minute things or birth plan deviations that may come up. I also provide a wide variety of non pharmaceutical pain relief techniques to help you sail through labor. Getting your partner hands on and heavily involved in your support is always a big goal and a frank specialty of mine. I have no problem showing them every trick in my book to better support you while I stand back and watch. Lastly, as a male, I can innately interpret and understand both partners perspectives in the birth room which then allows me to best support you in a way many other Doulas may not be able to! Simply put I am there to make one of the greatest days of your life, just a little better.
Postpartum Doula Services
As a Postpartum Doula, my job is a lot less specific but just as important: it is simply to make your transition home and those crucial first few weeks as smooth and seamless as possible. I can offer assistance with a wide variety of things including Breastfeeding, Babycare, wrangling siblings, cooking meals or doing some light housework. For example, when I arrive if you are exhausted from a long night ill keep an eye on baby while you grab a much needed nap, shower or meal. Simply put my goal is to make your life easier, whatever that may entail.
As an Educator, I currently offer two courses: Childbirth Education and CPR & First Aid.
Childbirth Education (CBE) is a crucial course whether you are becoming a parent for the first time or the eighth as every labor is different. I want my students to leave this course feeling fully informed and totally confident ready to face whatever the birth space throws at them! This course is taught in your own home so you do not have to travel and is personally tailored to meet your specific needs, while also incorporating the material traditionally covered in a CBE Course. The one thing that sets this course apart from all others is that upon completion, you also obtain your infant CPR certification!
Some of the many things this course covers:
- Hollywood vs. Reality
- The “nuts and bolts” of pregnancy and birth
- Comfort measures
- Pharmaceutical and non pharmaceutical pain relief
- Cesarean Sections
- Postpartum care
- And so much more.
CPR and First Aid teaches you how to properly assess, stabilize, sustain or resuscitate ill, injured or unresponsive patients in a wide variety of settings.
Some topics covered in this course include:
- Conscious and unconscious choking
- Heart attacks
- Orthopedic injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Diabetic emergencies
- In addition to many other topics!
Much like Childbirth Education this course can be tailored to your specific needs and is taught by an instructor with 20 years of experience in teaching and 13 as a Paramedic! At the conclusion of this course you walk away with a widely accepted certification good for 2 years.
What do you love about the work you do? What makes you passionate about the work you do?
I became a Doula because I love helping my fellow human in any and all ways possible. Whether it is in the back of an ambulance, the birth room, or simply helping someone across the street, however I can help I strive to do that. Therefore I truly believe my life’s purpose and truest calling is to help those in need. This is also one of my very favorite things about being a Doula: in its very purest sense we are there to help the family through some of life’s greatest journeys.
I can honestly think of no better way to be of assistance then helping a family welcome a new person to this planet, this tribe of man and to say that I was there to bear witness to the day a person who may go on to do great things entered the world. The greatest thing I have ever seen is a baby come into this world and go into the loving arms of their parents. Watching their expressions as they see that little one they have been wondering and dreaming about for the past 10 months for the very first time never gets old no matter how many births I have been to. EVERY Birth I have left, I am on a high. I’m not ashamed to say that I have done many a “happy dance” in a hospital elevator in front of what I can only assume are shocked passengers.
Birth work has affected me in ways I never thought possible and changed me in ways I frankly never expected. It has made me a more perceptive Paramedic, a better man and a more patient, caring Husband. That is why I am so passionate about birth, that is why I became a Doula and exactly why I want to become a Midwife.
Are there any misconceptions about you or the work you do?
There are many misconceptions about Doula work as well as Male Doulas. They are so common in fact that I actually devoted a portion of my website to discussing them!
The most pervasive myth surrounding Male Doulas is that we are there to take over Dad or partners spot in the birthroom. This is quite simply not true. As I have discussed previously one of my big goals in working with any couple is to get the partner as involved as possible. While Mom may be the star of the show, we are also there for the supporting cast as well! Additionally, while I may know a lot about birth, your partner knows a lot about you! They help us interpret the minor or more subtle signs you are giving when exhausted, frustrated of just want to be left alone that we as your Doula may not pick up on. I work WITH your partner not against them.
One of the most common Doula myths is that you don’t need a Doula if you have an OB/Midwife. Doulas and your providers fulfill fundamentally different but equally important roles during your birth. Your provider is there to attend to you and your baby’s medical needs and ensure your overall safety during the birth process. Your Doulas role in birth is to support you and your partner. Neither side typically crosses over onto the others area.
Another common Doula myth is that we are only for non-medicated or “natural births”. Doulas can be utilized at any birth, whether it is medicated or un-medicated, vaginal or cesarean and hospital or home. One thing to remember about epidurals in particular, is while you may not need physical comfort measures, we are still there for you emotionally. Making sure you are in the right psychological “head space” which is a key to laboring well regardless of your pain relief situation.
Simply put when you hire me or any Doula, we’re there to support your birth your way.
What are your future goals? Where do you envision yourself 10 years from now?
My future goal is that I want to become a successful Midwife in addition to continuing my Doula and educational work. My thinking is that when I become a Midwife, if they choose not to hire me as their Midwife maybe they will hire me as their Doula or educator. I plan on pursuing my degree in Midwifery to the Doctoral Level. In June of 2028 I hope that I am running a successful Midwifery practice that is essentially a “one stop shop” for pregnant and postpartum women, offering Midwifery, Doula, well woman, educational services to the community at large. Additionally I hope that I have achieved or are close to achieving my Doctorate of Midwifery. At the end of the day I want to be in a position to help as many people as I can through my services.
What are the top things expecting families should know?
When choosing a Doula: I would tell them this:
1) Think about why it is you want a Doula, and do your research. Different Doulas will bring different skill sets and life experience 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 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!
4) Take a Childbirth Education Class! Having a solid functional understanding of the birth process, what can and will happen and the best way to navigate it is key to being able to labor well. Simply put knowledge is power, the more you know and the better prepared you are the better it will be.
5) Have a Rock Solid Birth Plan: put down in specifics: what you want and don’t want for both you and baby. For any hospital birth I always strongly advise my clients to have a birth plan and plenty of copies to hand to the staff. This allows you and the staff to be on the same page. This is an excellent thing to go over with your Doula. We are experts at proofreading and helping you tweak your birth plan to make it as effective as possible.
6) Know your rights: outside of a true medical emergency, you have the absolute right to ask questions about any medical procedure being done to you and if you’re not comfortable with it you have the absolute right to refuse it.
7) Have Fun! Pregnancy and birth is a truly momentous and miraculous time in any couples life. Take the pictures, get henna or belly casting, try a prenatal yoga class or do a baby moon. Enjoy this time with your partner and children if you have them. 10 months may seem like a long time but it goes by quick embrace it!
What makes you and your services unique?
You mean other than the fact that I am a Male Doula? I have a substantial amount of Medical Knowledge and training including holding certifications in Emergency Medicine, Neonatology, Obstetrics and Pediatrics. While as your Doula I am not allowed to utilize these certifications physically, I can utilize the knowledge I obtained in the pursuit of them.
I am very adept at answering most medical questions you throw at me and if I don’t have the answer myself I will research it and get back to you! Additionally I will work with anyone regardless of their ability to pay. I refuse to turn someone who wants my services away simply because of a monetary issue.
I also give a 25% discount on my services to Active duty Military, First Responders and their families.
Lastly I am the true epitomie of a small business. I have built every aspect of my company from the dirt up, so everything I provide is tailored not only to you but usually created, researched or produced by me. I very literally am The Great Northwest Doula Service.
Thank you Jay! Be sure to attend the August meeting to hear his presentation!
We can’t wait to see you in August!
We have two great speakers! Our first speaker Emily will be giving a free Intro to Prenatal Yoga! Our second speaker Jay Rodriguez will be talking all about his experience as a male Doula.
Can’t wait to see you there! Call Nicole if you can’t find us! (253)-209-2495