SEPTEMBER 5, 2017
Meet Jessica Breiter-Bonner of Miracle of Life Midwifery[VoyageLA Staff]
Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Breiter-Bonner.
Jessica, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Ever since I can remember, I followed my calling to care for others. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a nurse, and I never deviated from that path. When I was able to formally follow my passion, I volunteered at CHOC hospital while in high school to care for sick infants. I was accepted into the rigorous five-year nursing program at San Francisco State University, and was one of the 50% of remaining nursing students that successfully earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, and passed my Board Exams to be licensed as a registered nurse.
While enrolled at SFSU, I also became certified as a doula and donated my time to work with low-income families and assist women in the prison population with their births. My experience during clinicals at different hospitals in the Bay Area made me question some of the traditional protocols that hospitals use, such as intervention in all births, even those that are at low-risk. I began to explore other options, and I was hired as an intern at The Sanctuary and Birth Center in Los Angeles.
After graduating from SFSU. I sought a practical balance between established western medicine and holistic methods. I applied to, and was accepted into the Nizhoni Institute of Midwifery, where I learned and practiced a holistic approach to childbirth. During this 2 ½-year program, my coursework was sandwiched in between being on call 24/7 for births, prenatal, and postpartum visits. I graduated, passed my Board Exam, and became a CPM-LM-Certified Professional Midwife and Licensed Midwife.
I have participated in more than 175 home births, and over 200 hospital births; I am well-acquainted with the protocols of both. I believe that in order to be the best midwife for my clients, I must be as educated and knowledgeable as possible. Currently, I am a part-time student, enrolled in a Master’s program in Nursing, which includes my Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner license and a Master’s in Midwifery through the prestigious Georgetown University.
My ultimate goal is to combine the benefits of both western and eastern medical practices to my patients. As of yet, there isn’t any other licensed midwife that has the breadth and depth of education that I have earned.
I believe in including the patient as part of the decision-making process. My philosophy is that a woman should learn to trust her body and allow nature to take its course in a holistic manner when she is low-risk and healthy—intervention is not always the solution.
I will be the strongest and most ardent advocate for mom and baby. Mom must also be educated and informed, and thus, she has responsibilities too, in order to create the most beautiful and awe-inspiring journey that the miracle of life has to offer.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
To paraphrase a saying, “Life is what gets in the way of your plans.” There are always bumps in the road, but I always treat them as learning experiences and ways to improve as a human being, and as a midwife. Not every birth goes as planned in a mother’s fantasy birth journey, but we adapt and always find the beauty and miracles in every birth. I want women to be educated and to make informed decisions as to how they want to proceed with their health care goals. Probably the bumpiest part of the road contains the misconceptions and myths that people have about home births. Even after a client is beaming with pride and on a high with how wonderful her home birth experience was, many will still encounter detractors among family and friends that will denounce them for not going to a hospital, and accuse them of putting themselves and the baby at risk.
We are not hippies catching babies in the woods. We monitor and watch our clients very carefully with medical equipment such as a Doppler, IV fluids on hand, blood pressure monitor, anti-hemorrhagic drugs, and oxygen for both mom and baby. From the moment that active labor begins to postpartum birth. We never leave the mom’s side, and I have a team with me. We have prenatal appointments where we monitor and document vitals at each appointment, and we chart the women’s health, progress and any other essential issues that may arise. We do lab work and work towards keeping our clients low-risk; if there is even a hint of anything abnormal or concerning, we will send the mom for a follow-up with another care provider.
Miracle of Life Midwifery – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
From day one, I am on call 24/7, so my clients know that they will never be neglected nor forgotten. It also allows me to get acquainted with them and their families, and truly understand their needs and desires. I provide prenatal care in both the clients’ homes and in an office; each visit averages one hour. Our mission is based on client-centered care, so a strong rapport is created throughout the process, and on the day of birth, when a woman is most vulnerable, she already feels comfortable with my team and me, and my judgment.
I believe one aspect that sets me apart and is greatly appreciated by clients, is that I accommodate their schedules and am very flexible about where to meet for appointments since I am more of a concierge service. Couples really appreciate me coming to their homes when the both parents are back from work, and they can put the kids to bed and feel comfortable meeting in their own homes. Children are a part of the experience too; they are included and not shoved off to the side–after all, it is a family affair! I strive to educate my clients and empower them to make their own decisions, to do the research, and we all work as part of a team. I don’t want to dictate to them, but rather, I want them to take control of their health. I am there to advise, guide, and answer questions from every family member. I become concerned when there are no questions! I encourage the family members to be actively involved in the process, such as listening to the baby’s heart beat with a fetocscope (a stethoscope designed to hear baby’s heart beat through mom’s stomach), as well as knowing and understanding the position baby is at each appointment. We strive for preventative care, rather than waiting for something to occur.
At each birth, we have medical emergency equipment (even though we don’t usually use it) such as oxygen for mom and baby, IV fluid, and anti-hemorrhagic drugs. I specialize in water births at home. We are unique in the fact that I have both the medical and holistic background in midwifery and medicine. I am not aware of another midwife in southern California that has my qualifications. I am proud of my company for being unique, and with my approach to working with families and providing them with the empowering perspective that they are in charge of their health decisions. I tell my students and assistants to not impose their personal birth plans onto my clients. If I see that happening, I tell them to imagine their own personal birth plan on a piece of paper, and placing it in a pot to set it on fire; this is not their birth plan, it is the clients, and must be respected.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
My proudest moment of my career so far, actually consists of an accumulation of moments that encompass empowerment for a woman after she bravely battles the pain and challenges of labor to achieve the amazing miracle of bringing a new life into this world. Whether it is witnessing a woman transform into a first-time mom, or guiding a mom with a prior traumatic birth experience take control of her birth journey and succeed, I always feel the beautiful glow of that moment being in these women’s presence, and it is always a glorious experience for me. Despite being present at almost 400 births, I am always in awe. There is a surreal feeling that time is suspended, and all that exists is that magical moment when parents meet their newborn, and a rush of emotions, adrenaline, and a feeling of heaven on earth supersedes the passage of time!
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