Jessica English, CD(DONA), BDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE
Jessica first got interested in natural birth as a student at Kalamazoo College, where she spent three months of her senior year researching and writing about midwifery. After earning her bachelor's degree in English from K in 1994, she went on to a career in marketing, public relations and journalism.
Originally trained and certified as a Bradley Method instructor, Jessica found that her philosophies evolved and broadened as she taught and attended births. In 2008, she transferred her affiliation to Lamaze International, and began teaching her independent course, 'The Best of Natural Birth.' Yes, Lamaze! It was an amazing discovery to realize that the organization had transformed into such an excellent, evidence-based resource (you might be surprised to hear that Lamaze no longer teaches or advocates for scripted breathing patterns). In 2013, Jessica was named as a fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators. That honor recognizes those who have made "significant contributions to childbirth education and efforts to promote safe and healthy birth through evidence-based practice." In 2014, she was one of 11 educators from around the world invited to Washington, D.C. to become part of Lamaze International's first cohort of independent trainers. In 2015, she will begin training new childbirth instructors to make a difference for families in their own communities.
Jessica is the owner of Birth Kalamazoo. Along with her Lamaze credentials, she is also certified as a doula by DONA International, and she attends many of her students' births. Because she is so often with women during birth, Jessica can speak knowledgeably about what to expect with various midwives and doctors. The University of Michigan has commissioned her to teach labor support trainings to their midwifery students and birth center nurses. After training in 2009 with world-renowned doula Penny Simkin, Jessica now trains new doulas from around the world as a DONA-Approved Birth Doula Trainer.
Jessica has spoken at a number of national conferences about doula work and childbirth education. She is a published researcher, having co-authored a study about women who choose home birth after a previous hospital birth experience. Jessica offers business consulting to other educators and doulas. A widely published writer, she publishes an e-newsletter about natural birth (subscribe) and her writing has appeared in print and online in a wide variety of regional, national and international venues. Her communication skills inform and enrich her teaching.
An experienced events planner, Jessica is the founder and organizer of the annual Kzoo Baby & Family Expo, a free event that connects families with area resources and an afternoon of fun. She has served in leadership roles on the boards of directors of DONA International, Goodwill Industries, Girl Scouts of Glowing Embers (now Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan), Professional Women Communicators, the Kalamazoo Area Women's Festival and Friends of Michigan Midwives.
Jessica and her husband Keith have had two wonderful birth experiences with the support of local midwives and their amazing doula, Kerry. Keith caught their son Aidan at Bronson Hospital in 2003, and their son Quinn at home in 2006.
Jessica teaches from the heart—sharing a wide variety of natural birth techniques while also preparing families for those times when birth may take an unexpected turn. Her most heartfelt wish is for all families to have positive, empowering birth experiences, whatever that means for them. She feels incredibly blessed to help other families bring their babies into the world.
"I can't thank you enough for the time you spent teaching us and helping us prepare for our birth. Your class was so amazing and I felt so ready and informed going into this birth... it really helped to draw away the fear of the birthing process. The birth was such an intimate time for David and I, and we both walked away from it amazed at each other, with a greater level of respect for one another and just more in love. Wow! Thank you so much for helping to empower us."
- Cristina, mom to Amalia, born at Bronson Hospital