An Interview with Jada Shapiro, Founder of boober & Birth Day Presence
Here at British American we love it when we see women succeed and soar simultaneously in the workplace and motherhood so it was our absolute pleasure to connect with the wonderful Jada Shapiro, maternal health expert, doula and founder of boober, where expectant parents and new families find classes and on-demand expert care providers, pregnancy to postpartum.
Jada, you founded boober to empower parents to positively manage their pregnancy, birth and postpartum experiences and outcomes through expert education and easy access to qualified maternal healthcare providers. Tell us what began this journey?
Boober was born organically, driven by market demand from parents struggling to find the basic support and help they needed after having a baby. I was running my first company, NYC’s top childbirth education and doula training center, Birth Day Presence, and saw a steep increase in my students calling us desperately, ready to give up nursing or feeding their babies in pain, unable to get the lactation help they needed quickly enough. I started giving out my personal cell phone number on a postcard, offering parents the opportunity to text for help in finding same-day care. I soon found myself coordinating visits with lactation professionals or running out of the house myself to help people with the simple basics of feeding their babies. I saw the improvement in front of my eyes; by the time I’d leave they had less pain, babies were feeding better, and parents were expressing their utmost gratitude and relief. With the texts coming in faster than I could keep up with, I knew it was time to create a platform that would quickly and easily connect new parents to qualified Lactation Professionals and the other in-person & virtual services and classes they needed to thrive from pregnancy to postpartum.
You also founded Birth Day Presence - which is an incredible doula and lactation counselor training center. We know you also provided expectant parent education, supporting over 20k parents since 2002, before you moved the parent classes to boober. Can you tell us a little about this original company?
Birth Day Presence was my first baby. After realizing that birth work was my calling, I joined forces with another doula and launched Birth Day Presence to create a place for parents to find community and education while they transitioned to parenthood and to provide amazing training for care providers during a time when birth work was getting more and more professionalized. I love this business because we made a difference in the lives of so many, but it was a locally thriving business and I saw an opportunity with boober to make an impact at the national scale and improve birth outcomes for all.
Birth Day Presence is now fully dedicated to being a birthworker training center. With the advent of virtual training, we have been able to reach so many more people interested in caring for others as they navigate their new parenthood journey. Our education and doula matching services for expecting and new parents migrated to boober last year to create a holistic care solution.
You’re a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, birth photographer, mother, and step-mother. Is there anything you haven’t yet conquered that you have your sights set on?
Ending racism in birth care and ensuring that birth justice and equity become realities. As a white-owned organization devoted to transforming healthcare outcomes and experiences for expectant and new parents, boober has a responsibility to acknowledge and work to dismantle the racist systems which make birthing in the United States more dangerous for Black people. Racial inequities in maternal health are ubiquitous. Black birthing people are dying at three to four times the rate of white birthing people nationally and eight to twelve times the rate of white birthing people in our hometown, NYC, due to systemic and medical racism. We recognize that birth work is inherently political and we pledge to continually work to ensure that birth justice and equity become realities. To this end, we have lower platform fees for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or People of Color) birthworkers, provide scholarships and pay-what-you-can spaces for our doula and lactation trainings and mentorship program.
Is there a book or podcast that’s had a deep impact of influence on your career journey?
I graduated from Wesleyan University with a double major in American Studies and Dance and focused my senior thesis on the medicalization of childbirth in America after randomly discovering a fascinating book about childbirth in the library called Spiritual Midwifery. I did not know the term midwifery yet, opened the book up and to my surprise saw many photographs of people birthing in a variety of positions and there were tons of incredibly positive stories about the physical and spiritual nature of giving birth, which was the complete opposite of anything I’d seen in the media before that. This book inspired me to learn more which led me to research for my thesis and ultimately to be invited to witness my first birth a few years later when my dear friend invited me (and 19 other people!) to photograph her birth at a freestanding birth center. I went to a birth conference in NYC after that, heard about doulas there and took a doula training soon after that and the rest is history!
How important do you think it is for women to have options and access to childcare when going back to the workplace after becoming mothers?
It is truly essential for birthing people to have support from pregnancy all the way through the childhood years. Because your baby grows up to be a toddler or a young child, the parenting expectations don’t get easier, they just evolve with them. The modern family is more isolated than ever and this means that we have to often rely on a network of trusted allies to help us raise our children: postpartum doulas, nannies - ultimately these people become our modern village. As Americans, we are the unhappiest parents of the developed world. Without built-in support we cannot easily navigate parenting and working and America needs to mandate paid parental leave for much longer than the scant 6 weeks or 12 weeks many parents get (often unpaid) in this country.
Why do you think it is that Doulas have become more popular recently for birthing?
Doulas are proven to reduce intervention in childbirth, to make people feel better about their birth experience, to reduce postpartum depression, and increase your chances of successfully nursing your baby. With the solid research around doula care, it’s no wonder people want this kind of support during labor. We used to get this from our families and would have our aunts, sisters, mothers, and other family members there to get us through birth and postpartum. Modern city-centric society and the annihilation of midwives at the profit of over-medicalized births accelerated the isolation of new parents and reduced the amount of deep care they received during labor, birth, and postpartum. With the over-medicalization of childbirth in the US, the c-section rate at its peak, and especially for Black and brown parents whose pain and needs are routinely denied or ignored and who experience racism throughout their childbearing experiences, people are using doulas more than ever because they not only want physical and emotional support, they need a person in their corner to help them advocate for themselves throughout the birth experience.
In recent years, as new generations become new parents, I am delighted to see this movement toward getting help and not having to do everything alone come to the forefront. More forward-thinking companies are giving their employees proper time off and even paying for some support (which we help deliver sometimes) and with time, a sense of urgency of challenging the miserable status quo, and more resources, people are finding the support they need to navigate their labor.
What advice can you give new mothers struggling with their mental health and in particular, Postpartum Depression?
Reach out and get help. There is no shame in feeling this is hard and feeling overwhelmed. We live in a society that has fed us the expectation that we can power through, that we ‘should’ be able to do this, that we “built for this,” etc. A parent is born when a child is born and there are no manuals for babies. Every baby is different and your circumstances can change on a dime. You don’t have to feel the way you do and help is at your fingertips, but accepting help is usually the hardest thing. Also, you can have anxiety or depression while pregnant and in fact, this is the biggest predictor of experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety of PMADs (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders). Know that this is normal and can be treated. Mental health therapy is proven to help pregnant and new parents on their journey.
Why do you think a company like British American Household Staffing is an asset for families to have a service that enables support like nannies and newborn care?
We share a common mission to support parents to help them thrive and help comes in a variety of forms. Professional help with newborns and child-rearing is essential to many families nowadays who do not have family nearby, or when both parents have to work. Whether you are a stay-at-home parent, recovering from childbirth, or going back to work, all parents having access to a trusted network of vetted care providers makes all the difference.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given you as a mother and a step-mother?
“This too shall pass”. Simple but powerful few words to put things in perspective which is always hard when in the middle of a transition with your child.
How do you think the pandemic has affected pregnancy and birthing? And how can boober help with those hurdles of isolation and uncertainty during this time?
More stress. More isolation. More unknowns. Fewer babies too for some families worried about providing and safely bringing up babies. As soon as the start of the pandemic became clear to me, boober fast-tracked our launch of mental health therapists who focus on pregnancy to postpartum, because I knew this would be an incredibly important service for people carrying babies during such an unprecedented time. There was a brief time where fathers/partners and doulas were banned from the delivery rooms in hospitals and this caused enormous stress and fear. Boober created a class called Confident Solo Birth to help people who needed to go into labor without their in-person support. Boober also organized webinars with top OBGYNs and pediatricians to discuss safety with experts for pregnant people. We had almost 1000 people at the first one and know this helped parents feel more informed and less fearful. Boober continues to connect parents quickly and easily to classes and care that will help them thrive, even in a global pandemic.
Your incredible company empowers parents during their pregnancy and birthing process. Who or what empowers you and why?
Thank you! The daily inflow of thank you notes and amazing reviews from the families and birthworkers we have supported keeps me going and makes it all worth it to keep working hard day and night to get parents the care, education, and community they need.
What’s the best investment that a couple can make during their journey into parenthood and why?
Knowledge is power, so education provides a strong foundation for a smooth transition into birth and newborn parenthood. Taking classes is one way to accomplish this and I highly recommend that expectant parents come to childbirth education to learn all about their choices and options in childbirth and to learn pain coping techniques, positions for birth and so much more that can help reduce the need for intervention and leave them feeling more confident as they get ready to give birth. Investing in birth doula care is powerful, because as many studies show, doula care reduces your likelihood of having a c-section, increases the likelihood of feeling satisfied with your birth experience, decreases the likelihood of postpartum depression, increases the likelihood of successful lactation and so much more! Investing in a postpartum doula is another amazing way for new parents to ease the transition to parenthood. Postpartum doulas can help parents learn to care for their newborns and help them physically and emotionally recover from childbirth with daily visits. 92% of parents we surveyed told us they felt having supplemental care from providers who were not their doctor or midwife improved their experience. We also know that in other developed countries with supportive care built into pregnancy and postpartum, the outcomes are better for all. Whether in person or virtually supportive care helps people to thrive and we’d like to remove any stigma about getting the help you need.
You offer Sleep Consultants and Nutritionists as part of the boober services which is amazing. How important is a diet and sleep routine for the mental and physical health of a new parent?
Getting the right amount of food and sleep can impact our levels of feeling well or feeling more anxious and/or depressed. When a new parent begins to sleep 5 hours or less per 24 hours they are at real risk of developing anxiety and often it is their own anxious feelings that won’t allow them to ease into sleep. Mental health therapists can help the parent who is experiencing anxiety or depression. With the pandemic, the mental health issues of new parents soared and we launched mental health therapy support in the midst - we saw it as an essential part of their survival in this new reality. People were so grateful and we see this holistic approach as a necessity where each element contributes to your overall wellbeing. While it’s normal for a newborn to wake frequently through the night in the early weeks and months, it should diminish somewhat over time. A parent with a baby that is 16 weeks old and still having a lot of challenges when it comes to continual sleep can continue to affect the parent. In this case, a supportive sleep consultant can help parents set a better sleep routine for their child and their family and this may help the parents to feel a lot better if they are struggling.
When you are growing or caring for a little one, parents sometimes need support in prioritizing rest or the right kind of nutrition. Nutritionists can support parents who are struggling with something obvious like gestational diabetes and need to really shift their diets and they can also help pregnant people who never thought about eating well at all to moving into the ideal nutrition building blocks for pregnancy. Nutritionists can also be very supportive in what types of foods to eat to support a healthy milk supply or for the parent of the older baby who is looking to shift how their eating patterns. Introducing solids is also a massive shift for parents and babies and nutritionists can help ensure the child is getting what they need.
Finally, your baby has simple needs: eat, sleep, poop - so mastering the fundamentals in these areas means you will feel less stressed and your baby will be more content.
What words would you give a single mother who is pregnant right now and feeling anxious or alone?
It is normal to feel overwhelmed before welcoming a new baby, especially if you are a single parent. You can do it and building out your supportive care team ahead of time will help. Families come in so many forms these days - recomposed families, divorced, and single parents are now the norm and with help, you really can thrive. You are enough. But remember, nobody, even when there were two parents, had a new baby without extended support, so figuring out who can help, whether it’s family members, a postpartum doula, a nanny, a friend, a baby nurse, or some combination of care is right for you, can make an easier, smoother transition to parenthood.
For more information visit: https://getboober.com/