Hi Jessica! It's a pleasure to have you with us. Can you tell us a bit about you and what you do and what brought you to this career?
Yes! I am a licensed midwife and reproductive health educator. Currently, I have a small midwifery practice that specializes in homebirth services, holistic well-person care, gynecological care and conception support.
I started out as a birth doula. 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 giving the maternity tour. I lead expecting couples through 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 count and I was very curious about what type of magical being did 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.
The common thread is making sure they know they have options. Even at 19, I was committed to parents and people knowing their reproductive health options.
It seems like birth rates are going down while home births are going up. Why do you think home birth is gaining popularity right now? How has that enabled you to expand your professional life and offerings?
It’s funny; I kept reading the headlines that birth rates are going down but us midwives have been very busy. It’s hard to digest that macro truth when my micro experience is so different. Specifically during the pandemic, community birth (home birth and birth center birth) has gained more popularity due to fear and a conscious assessment of safety within the hospital setting.
In early pandemic, many of the inquiries were completely out of fear of exposure at the hospital. However, I do believe that a healthy look at our hospital system (and how we’ve handled the pandemic in general) really was the catalyst for many people who had always been on the fence about homebirth.
For me, it made my little practice boom! People are hungry for more care, more time, and more interaction. With our medical system inundated during to the pandemic, low-risk pregnancies were not tended to. Many appointments were via telehealth, many people were not being seen at all, and many more interventions were being recommended at birth. We are just seeing the numbers this past week. The maternal mortality rate went up during the pandemic!
Midwifery care is more than just the birth. My offerings include time, energy, trauma-informed, and competent care. The current services are prenatal care, homebirth, Pap smears, STI testing, and conception support.
We are two years into the pandemic. In what ways are you older? In what ways younger? In what ways new?
Older: I go to bed at 10PM. Like making it to 10PM is a stretch some days. I am a Grandma!
Younger: Physically, I am getting stronger in my body and back to my athletic self.
New: I can’t think of anything about me that is new but I have bought a lot of new big things during these past two years - a Peloton, a Tesla, a fancy couch, etc. LOL
I am never shy about buying what I like but I have been very thoughtful about how my things function for me and make me feel. So much more intentional with each purchase!
Where do you go to seek inspiration? Nature…museum…online…your home and family? Can you name a few places you go in Los Angeles to feed your imagination, your soul, your spirit.
Contrary to my very social personality, I am a deep introvert. I am most fueled and inspired in silence and solo time. My couch has been my favorite place these past few years. I just invested in a new one and I can’t wait for it to arrive!
I also LOVE traveling! Staying curious about other cultures, trying new foods, and watching people in their element makes me so deeply inspired.
In LA, I love the buzz of energy in DTLA. I live there and love taking walks around the neighborhood observing all the different people in this city.
Point Dume is also a personal fav. It’s harder to get down to the water these days but I love driving up to Malibu and climbing down to the rocks to just sit there watching the waves and journaling.
Do you have any rituals/daily practices/ mantras you use?
My go to mantra these days is “you have time”! In the mornings, I can feel a bit stressed to start my work day (check emails, etc.) before working out or eating breakfast. Instead of rushing through or skipping my morning workout, I remind myself that I have time to slow down and move through my morning routine.
Ideally, my morning ritual would include some movement, a slow pour over, and journaling or reading before checking email but I am a midwife and nothing is consistent.
Much talk is about what is missing and losing out during this time, but are there surprises for what the pandemic has actually brought to your life?
OHHH, I love my home!! This is not a surprise but I have leaned into that hard during this time. At this point, I do not leave my home on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at all. I have to schedule in walks just to make sure I get movement in. I LOVED early pandemic time. If only I could avoid all the people AND go on solo dates, I would have been in heaven.
Name 5 things that bring you joy right now.
- My couch
- Baked Mac&Cheese
- Watching friends eat my cooking
- Weekly Sugarfish dates
- Kickboxing with my couch
To learn more about Jessica, please visit her website at jessicadiggs.com