Spotlight: Doula, Midwife and Educator, Jessica Diggs

Why do you need a midwife?
Jessica, we are so delighted to have you on the LINNÉ spotlight feature. Tell us about yourself, what led you to become a midwife?
I have had the honor of supporting hundreds of families through their pregnancies and their entry into parenthood as a doula, educator and now, as a Licensed Midwife. My journey started when I was 19 years old, in college and doing all the things you’re supposed to do to get into medical school. For me, that meant volunteering in the field I was interested in - OBGYN. I worked in our local hospital leading the maternity tours. I taught expecting couples about their options in the hospital, showed them the birth balls, and talked about our in-house doula program. I didn’t know what a doula was but they did not count towards the hospital visitor policy and that got me very curious about what type of magical being does not count as a human visitor. I did some diving during my holiday break and decided to become one. That was in 2012! Since then my role has evolved from doula to midwife and continues to transition as I support parents with childbirth education through companies like LOOM. Currently, I have a solo midwifery practice that specializes in homebirth services, holistic well-person care, gynecological care and conception support based in Los Angeles. And when I am not helping pregnant people birth their babies, I am helping support other doulas as they cultivate their ideal business. 
How does a midwife help support all reproductive events including birth, abortion and sexual health?
As a home birth midwife, I am a trained healthcare provider who specializes in low-risk reproductive events like primary care screenings, pregnancy, and unmedicated vaginal birth. Yet, the midwifery care I offer extends beyond supporting a pregnancy or attending a home birth. I offer compassion and dialogue during a miscarriage and accessibility and reassurance during an abortion. I am someone who trusts each person with their body and acknowledges how all areas of life can affect reproductive health. While many people are just starting to learn about the clinical side of midwifery care, the profession itself is age-old. For generations, midwives have been guiding teens through understanding their cycle, performing or providing support during an abortion, and offering prenatal and postpartum care during pregnancy. Grounded in the midwifery model, my care is thorough and competent. Every Pap smear, homebirth or at-home insemination is offered through a client-centered lens.
How does childbirth education help empower women through the birthing process?
Education allows people to understand their bodies and their choices. Childbirth education is no different. Learning about the options one has during the birthing process puts the power back into their hands. Parents can then ask for what they prefer and share their personal needs during labor. Ideally, women and parents are included in the decision-making process versus feeling like the birth is just happening to them. I believe education and preparation reduces harm and is very empowering.
What would you say the most important aspect of choosing your birth team is?
Your comfort is the most important aspect. Pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period are such vulnerable times. One should ask themselves, “does this person [doctor, midwife, doula, nurse] make you feel comforted, supported and heard?” If the answer is no, trust your instincts, and choose a different provider. The lack of trust and rapport will only make navigating the birthing process more difficult.
What led you to start Centered?
 Centered is a curated community of doulas. My co-founder and I launched the community we wished we had when starting our doula careers. Centered was created to see other doulas thrive in this work. It is hard caring for other people, especially pregnant people and their families. We wanted to be a space where doulas can connect, cultivate new skills, and have access to coaching as they run their businesses.
What are you hoping to teach with your substack blog Midwifery is More?
This substack blog, Midwifery is More, is a creative outlet where I can write about all things reproductive health. Midwives provide support for all reproductive health events; births, abortions, miscarriages, and insemination. This blog will speak to all of those events as well as pleasure, vaginal health, and navigating the healthcare system in the US. There will always be tips, reflective prompts and expert advice from a licensed midwife.
How can we support and encourage self-care for caregivers including Doulas and Midwives like yourself?
Normalize that caregivers are superhumans that deserve rest and rejuvenating rituals. They are special beings that would give their all - time, energy, expertise, etc. However, they are also people who burn out and can not continue to offer the care if they are not taking care of themselves. If there is a caregiver in your life, hired or not, create space to ask them how they are prioritizing self-care and sustainability. 
How can others get involved in advocating for reproductive health?
We are really in a scary place as a country. My advice is two-fold: educate yourself and get active. Support local grassroots organizations that are doing the work to ensure that reproductive health and reproductive justice is upheld everywhere. Vote, donate, or volunteer. Alternate how you give so that you can maintain longevity in what will be a long road ahead. 

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