We were lucky to catch up with Jessica Wiggins recently and have shared our conversation below.
Jessica, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. We’d love to go back in time and hear the story of how you came up with the name of your brand?
The name of my business has brought me smiles and questions. When I first started attending births … one of my first out of hospital births I attended was the 2nd born of my best friend. Myself and another friend attended this birth purely to support and pray over our best friend. During this time we innerceed on her befalf…praying peace over the environment and strength and surrender over her and her mind, body and spirit. There was a birth photographer there that was a blessing from the birth center. We had no idea she would be apart of the team, but our friend found it as a prayer answered. That birth was peaceful, blessed, and without any complications. A few weeks later I was attending a home birth with a community doula I was shadowing. The same birth photographer from my best friend’s birth was there. After the home birth the birth photographer came to me and said …”hey, you’re that praying doula…right?” It hit me like a ton of bricks. That encapsulated exactly what I was called to do. Interceed and doula women in birth. A doula that prays… not just as a name, but as a mission statement. As soon as I left I looked up the URL and it was not taken. From that point forward… my business name has held the same purpose. One that serves women in labor… physical, emotionally and spiritually through prayer and intercession.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
The interesting thing about my story is that I have never given birth, yet I support women in labor. In 2014 I was attending a church that had many young growing families. I would help support these families leading into their birth by praying over them and even attending some births to pray outside of their birth space. I really felt called to intercede for women while they were giving birth. I believe in intercessory prayer, someone who prays for those in a vulnerable state. What is more vulnerable than a birthing mother? I found myself attending about 10 births that year. I was unaware of what a doula was, until a nurse asked me if I was my friends doula. I quickly looked up the word and the definition fit perfectly!
DOULA – noun
dou·la | \ ˈdü-lə \
Definition of doula
: a person trained to provide advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth (Merriam-Webster)
There are many types of doulas, but I am a birth doula. I serve families prenatally, in birth, and postpartum. I meet my clients prior to them giving birth and go over information and provide options so they are well informed going into birth. I then serve them throughout the entirety of their birth and immediate post partum. I finish my following up in the post partum to discuss their birth experience and provide any resources needed. After that experience of learning what a doula was, I sought out a doula in my area. I bought her coffee– as one should do– and asked her all the questions about her profession. I learned quickly that the birth community and professionals like the one I met with, was a vital part of my journey. I needed to not only get to know my surrounding birth community, but meet and network with them. This work requires a village of those like minded around you.
There are all kinds of doulas with certain missions or statements. Mine has always been the same. Since the beginning I pray over my clients. That is the first and most vital tool in my tool box. However, I have been trained through various doula trainings and otherwise, my heart leads me back to the one thing I have found to break down strongholds and shift atmospheres. Prayer and the powerful move of the Holy Spirit. I would like to say it does not set me a part in my practice, but it does. I have found some incredible birth workers who have come to the same conclusion. They love Jesus, they love people, and they are called to the birth world. I am not alone in this, but I am set a part because of how my journey started.
I mentioned earlier that it is interesting that I have not given birth, yet I am called to birth work. The reason that is interesting, is that it rare. Most doulas get into this business for several common reasons : 1. they had a great birth experience themselves and want to support other women to have great birth experiences. 2. they had a horrible birth experience and want to advocate for women so others dont have a poor birth experience 3. they think it would be cool to go to births for friends or family 4. they feel called to advocate and support because of injustice they see in womans maternal health care. I dont quite fit into any one of these categories. I was called to shift atmospheres through prayer and intercession and I am called to so in the birth space. That is basically it. I have a servant heart and love Jesus and love people. This work is my contribution while I am here and breathing.
I find that by keeping my purpose, vision, and plan clear in front of me… since I became a trained doula in 2017, I dont buy into another agenda. I dont get caught up in serving anything other than what God has called me to do and my client’s specific needs. I am most confident that the clients who hire me know what they get and who they are getting in their birth space. I serve all types of families regardless of politics or religion. I pray about the clients I take and if I am the right person for them. I believe that each woman deserves a doula and sometimes that doula is me, and sometimes it isnt and that is okay. I encourage my clients to find the right birth team and I dont get offended if that does not include me. The thing is, birth is a vulnerable and intimate time… and your birth experience matters. So finding the right people to be around you should take time and prayer and consideration. Also, since I have built a lot of relationships in my birth community, I am still a resource regardless of outcome. It is the bigger picture that I am after. For women to be supported with the best possible team around them, for their most vulnerable time. And…regardless if I am their doula, if I speak with them, at anytime, they always make it to my prayer list. :)
Can you tell us about what’s worked well for you in terms of growing your clientele?
The first thing a new doula asks me is where she can find clients. My answer- build relationships with other doulas and your local birth community. When you are authentic in building relationships in these areas, you are most likely to get referrals from them. If you dont build relationships in your local market place, it is hard to navigate your own business. There will always be a time that you may need a back up doula, if you dont have this community to lean on, your business reputation could fail. Back up doulas are vital to a solid working practice. Also, get to know your local midwives. Most midwives and birth centers and even hospitals want to know you! They want to know your personality and who you are, because they want their clients to have support!! So getting to know them at meet ups or other events gets your name out there and your face in their minds. I have been referred more clients from relationship in this way, than off of social media. Hands down.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
Reputation is huge in this profession. My key goal – work with excellence. In anything you do, if you work it with excellence you will get noticed. Being a doula requires a lot of emotional and physical availability. Your word is important. You have a reputation to uphold to your clients that what you say, you follow through on. If you dont put your clients first, they will feel that in your work and if they feel unheard or unseen then you are most likely not going to be hired again. Be true to you and dont over promise and under deliver. When it comes to my reputation, keeping my core vision at the fore front of my business is what has helped me. Clients and birth professionals know what they are getting with me. Remember that you are also being seen in your work from other professionals- midwives, obs, chiropractors, nurses, etc. They all see your work as well, and they notice. Besides my reputation with my clients, these voices also matter. Working with excellence in each area of your practice- how you prepare your clients before their birth planning meeting, how you attend the birth and work with your clients as well as work well with the birth team, and how you help in the post partum, all build your overall work. Do it well, learn from your mistakes, ask for feedback. This not only tells your clients you care about your work and how you preform, but asking midwives and obs etc also shows your willingness to learn. I dont always agree with my clients or agree with a birth team, but I respect choices and respect people for making them. So building my reputation starts off with being authentic to who I am and what I can offer – then showing it in my actions.
- Website: www.theprayingdoula.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the_praying_doula/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theprayingdoula
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-praying-doula-roanoke-2
- Other: Email: Jessica@theprayingdoula.com
Erin Beth Birth Photography