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Life & Work with Stephanie Jack

Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephanie Jack.

Hi Stephanie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I became a Birth Worker, also known as a doula, in July 2020. I was about eight months postpartum with my second child and on the last of my unemployment funds. Up until October of 2019, I was a Labor Union Organizer for four years and was burnt out on fighting against minimum wages, discrimination and right to work. In a rush to find a calling that was far from a 9-5 atmosphere, I came across the profession known as a doula. I realize now that what I desired most for my past two birth experiences was holistic support from pregnancy to postpartum. Experiencing birth trauma motivated me to support birthing people and prevent similar unnecessary outcomes for specifically Indigenous, Black, Brown and Melanated Birthing Folks.

After finding a doula training that wasn’t in alignment with my beliefs, I began self-teaching and networking in a bountiful space of beings here in the Houston community, across the country and beyond. Within my first year of birth work, one of the biggest lessons I learned is that birth work is ancestrally connected to me and institutions desire certificates to qualify for their standards and wish to make a profit off of something that is my birthright. I supported births spoke on panels, lives and podcasts. I contributed to outreach support in my community. I also raised children, gave birth to my third child, and lost loved ones during my first year as an entrepreneur.

I currently am in a space of gratitude for how far I’ve come and excitement for the present moment as well as the future. My story is still one yet to be finished. I am an imperfect person healing, growing and learning every day. My main focus will always be to follow my intuition.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not.

I am currently one year and seven months into birth work and entrepreneurship. In the very beginning, I was desperately searching for pregnant people to hire me since I wanted this to be immediate income after my unemployment started to end. I charged $300 for labor and folk could book $50 Birth & Postpartum Planning Sessions that lasted hours long. These rates are not living wage appropriate nor enough to thrive on and care for my family. I had very little confidence in myself. The people I would find would either get the service for free or didn’t have a clue what a doula was and felt my service was unnecessary.

After some networking, my insecurities pushed me to join collectives in the hopes of gaining clientele within a group. The downsides started to intensify over time, as some agencies either underpaid me or required that I support families that were not in alignment. I found myself in neighborhoods that were racially discriminative. Agencies also would have the description of a babysitter or nanny listed as a postpartum doula’s duties and this left me with no energy to care for my own children after helping with newborns overnight.

As an independent birth worker, I spent most of that year supporting pregnant people with unnecessary fear that created blockages and issues as we prepared for birth. Many times, I would be along for the ride of a birth, just to be forgotten about when birth began, or they would choose a birthing location that were not tolerant of doulas and I would be disrespected, asked to leave or my client wouldn’t have the trust in themselves or our work together and let go of their autonomy over fear-based care. Living in one of the worst states to give birth in, majority of birthing people give birth in hospitals and lack the knowledge needed to make it out of it without complications, trauma, harm, or knowledge of their patient’s rights in some way or another.

In February of 2021, I lost my home due to the Winter Storm Uri. I also lost my father two months before I gave birth to my 3rd child and my grandmother died two months after. Without therapy and support from my friends and family, I wouldn’t be where I am currently.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
A birth worker or a doula supports a birthing/pregnant person through their journey from pregnancy to postpartum. I consider myself a full-spectrum birth worker, so I have the capacity to support folks in preconception, those who’ve experienced loss or simply on their parenting journey and want to heal and learn better ways to communicate and process their emotions.

I’m known for my presence on social media with lives and stories about my lived experience as a mother and businesswoman. I also have a knack for bringing folks together in community. As a doula, I specialize in autonomous choice and holistic support. I prioritize everyone my client chooses to be on their journey with them as a client. I teach them ways to be self-accountable and empowered in themselves so they can be in full control of what they can decide on and ultimately be able to use these skills in their lives and beyond.

I have been an artist since childhood and love to create when I feel the fire to do so. Whether it be drawing portraits, sewing, making gifts bags, gardening or crafting nutrient-rich meals.

What sets me apart is my transparency. I developed the skill to be open with parts of myself to relate and create a foundation for healing in others that may feel alone in their unique perception of their reality. I love to share what I know and what I feel in order to affirm and liberate others. I am also very much a person who is aware of the system oppression and how it is layered in society. I love to enlighten and offer insights wherever I can so we can stay out of the matrix.

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Firstly, I’ll say as a doula, hospitals many times manipulate clients into believing they have no autonomous choice on who gets to be in the room with them during their birth. It is unfair and illogical to limit a doula who offers advocacy physical and emotional support to further aid in normal physiological aspects of birth in addition to whatever a client desires by preference. For the benefit of the Medical Industrial Complex, also known as the hospital, benefits from limiting who is around the patient so that the only addition voice a birthing person hears many times is medical staff convincing them why they shouldn’t trust themselves to make decisions about their bodies.

If you can only have 1 or 2 visitors but a nurse brings in multiple staff, students, etc. into the room, how is it fair? Some of those people can be vaccinated but still carry and be sick at work, but then an unvaccinated and negative-testing, healthy person can’t be present in the birth room.

The pandemic has shown me that worldwide people’s values vary by so many things and those values can shift and change quickly. It’s hard to trust anything that you read or hear, so I trust my intuition and my ancestors first.

Pricing:

  • $600-1333 Labor Support Packages
  • $66 A La Carte Support Sessions
  • $33 an hour Postpartum Support
  • $111 Birth/Postpartum Planning Session

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Kashé Powell, www.theindigosunflower.com Angelek Jordan, angelekjordan.wixsite.com/mysite

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