Jessica Shinneman


Jess has been advocating along side families in the hospital setting for 10 years. As a labor and delivery nurse, she has fought the system from within, challenging policies, arguing against status quo, and demanding evidence based care. As a RN she has witnessed over 1000 births. At the hospital she loved supporting families wanting low intervention birth, she would guard their sacred space, fight for their rights, and encourage them to ask questions. She has helped many families get better hospital birth, and some of them got an empowered birth, but sometimes better still isn’t good. The focus in the hospital is on stable vital signs,“healthy baby, healthy mom.”  Her mental and spiritual health do not matter.  And dad, he’s an afterthought. Families leave the hospital broken, depressed, and anxious.  They move into parenthood disempowered, and lacking the ability to trust their intuition. We can change that.
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I am being called to this place. It’s so hard to put into words the journey that has brought me here. The universe has such a beautiful way of teaching you small lessons , all guiding you to this very moment. All demanding you step into your roll as midwife. My journey started with a young healthy woman who couldn’t get pregnant. Dr’s labeled it PCOS. They offered Clomid and Metformin. I was shocked, how could my body not know how to conceive? What do you mean it “incurable”. I didn’t trust the Dr’s advice or her meds. Thus, my journey into nutrition and herbalism began. I healed my PCOS and we conceived my son. I delivered my son at the hospital I worked at. I thought that delivering among friends could guarantee me the birth I deserved. Everyone knew my plan, “natural delivery.” I showed up in transition. I declined the saline lock, the antibiotics for GBS, the shots, all of it. I was clear in my words, no, no, no. The midwife was in my room every 10 min with a new worry and reason of intervention, eventually she got her way. At the very end, right before my son was born she demanded I stop pushing, “It’s an emergency!!” she covered my face in oxygen, and my arms in wires, and even got the IV she had been demanding. I do not remember consenting to any of it. The next wave came and I lost it, I gathered all my wires and threw them. I delivered my son with a room full of “emergency personal”, extra Dr’s, lights on and with coached pushing. He got 10 and 10 apgars. I didn’t know any better and it took me a very long time to come back from my “natural” hospital birth. Their fears became my anxiety, their worries became my intrusive thoughts. My safe space was not protected and their seed of fear took hold. I found my way out of that cloud of postpartum anxiety, and I could not let that happen to the women in my care. Empowerment became my mantra, informed consent my ode, but something was missing. I saw so many beautiful births, so many happy families, but something was missing. I loved birth, and loved protecting the sacred space, but something was missing.

As a nurse my favorite part of the birth is stealing dads phone and taking pictures so that the two of them can discover this new soul together. It was at a birth when I said. “In my next life, I’ll be a doula birth photographer.” As soon as the words left my mouth I knew what I had to do. The universe guided me to Whapio, and Whapio called me into her Holistic Doula Course. Doors opened and I followed. Day 2 of her course I had a vision, I am here to use my voice to change birth, it was clear and it moved me to tears. Her course changed me, I realized that so much was missing. Birth is so beautiful that you can only see half of the joy, the empowerment, the togetherness and its incredible. If you are not looking you might not even realize it could be better. But once you’ve seen it in its full glowing glory you realize what’s been missing, as I did when I witnessed my first undisturbed birth. I watched the father suit up and become the guardian for his family. I watched him catch the light, and witness the miracle of birth. Never before had I really seen a man become a father. Never had I seen a man be so connected to his partner and to his baby. I was forever changed. I had witnessed what birth was supposed to be, and I realized I had been sold a lie. Better birth is not good birth. And I don’t ever want a family to settle for good when they deserve great. That family left my care literally glowing from head to toe, their joy was so big you could almost feel it. How is it in 10 years of advocating for low intervention, natural, better birth had I never seen this before. I finally figured out why I wasn’t satisfied with the hospital. I don’t want 60% of my empowerment, 70% of my intuition, 65% of my glow, but this is what hospital birth is. When you see it, you realize you can never settle for 50% ever again. You realize it’s time to rise up and take back birth. I believe birth is a journey, a transformation, a right of passage. I believe that dad’s need to stand up for birth and refuse to be the afterthought. I believe every family knows what is right for their baby. I am excited to be on this journey to midwife with you. Together we will help families understand why they want more than just “healthy baby, healthy momma.”

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