We had the good fortune of connecting with Jada Shapiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jada, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
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.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
After randomly discovering a fascinating book about childbirth in the library, I presented my senior thesis in college about the over-medicalization of childbirth in America. I witnessed my first birth soon after graduating when my friend (Lora, mentioned in the shoutout) invited me (and 19 other people!) to photograph her birth at a freestanding birth center. Lora ate and drank, walked around, chose positions like standing and all fours, used a birth ball, showered, spent time in the tub, was allowed to take her time giving birth and was able to have whomever she wanted at the birth to support her. This birth changed my life and set me on my course of ensuring that parents knew about their choices and options in childbirth! I have now been a birth and postpartum doula, a lactation counselor, a birth educator and a birth photographer for almost 2 decades and my domain expertise has been a huge factor in boober’s success. Not only have I spent years on the ground providing most of the services we now match people to, my first company was also dedicated to Childbirth Education, so when boober offers classes, it is not an afterthought designed to bring pregnant people to our company earlier. We consider education to be the foundation of healthier birth and postpartum and the main ingredient of empowerment for parents, and that’s why so many OBGYNs and midwives refer their patients to boober to get educated or find a doula. Finally, I am also a mom and step-mom. I not only have the experience of many years as a birth doula, postpartum doula, lactation counselor and educator, I’ve also gone through pregnancy, birth and postpartum myself and have that perspective on what parents might need in this time.
The American healthcare system is broken and it is our role as individuals to do everything we can to fix it. Boober is doing it by providing top-quality education and easy access to qualified maternal healthcare that parents need to thrive in a system which fails parents. Birth work is inherently political and boober is working for reproductive justice; I am involved in birth activism in a group which meets regularly with government representatives to improve maternal health outcomes in the US, especially for BIPOC and Black birthing parents who have significantly worse outcomes than their white counterparts due to systemic and medical racism. We have the worst rankings on maternal mortality in the developed world. Boober provides many Pay What You Can spaces and scholarships to BIPOC who want to become birth doulas, postpartum doulas, and lactation counselors.
There have been many big challenges along the way; the biggest of course was the pandemic. Boober was completely in-person and had to quickly pivot to virtual care. We worked around the clock to transform all of our classes and visits to the virtual format. This was incredibly difficult, but amazingly rewarding as well, to know we could continue to provide service and education to pregnant and new parents who were now more isolated than ever before. The lesson was flexibility and perseverance, as always in business. The only way to succeed is to flow and change and frankly I had learned that from my many years as a birth doula, as birth is unpredictable and you always have to be ready to turn on a dime.
I am proud of how many people boober has helped over the years. The feedback texts we receive daily from parents who were struggling but are now doing better is what keeps us going! My goal is to ultimately shift our broken healthcare system entirely, with a focus on moving this country toward midwife-led birth care, ending the systemic racism in pregnancy, birth and postpartum care, and ultimately moving birth back to the family/community. Until then we’re doing everything we can to make sure people can easily access education, birth doulas, postpartum doulas, mental health therapists, lactation consultants and more support people to help them thrive.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since I’m writing this during a global pandemic, I’m going to share outdoor spaces where I would take my friends during this time with our own food. For some lovely beach moments drive out to El Matador beach north of Malibu, enjoy the cliffs, then hike down to the beach, turn right and walk under the sea caves at low tide. It’s gorgeous and often empty. You can easily take many amazing hikes right in the middle of the city, too. Head up to Griffith Park for walking or hiking or go bigger with hikes like Topanga or Runyon Canyon. Visit Biddy Mason Park to learn the history of 19th century LA Black midwife, Biddy Mason, and how she argued for and won her freedom in court. After that you can explore the mix of new and old in Downtown LA. Visit the Westside and check out the Venice Canals and then keep up the concrete river theme by checking out The River Walk in Frogtown. Finally, it’s always fun to spend time with the outdoor wandering peacocks in Arcadia.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A big shoutout to Lora Burgess who invited me to witness and photograph her birth, which in turn changed my life and inspired me to help as many expectant parents as I could on their journey through birth and postpartum. And a huge shoutout to my husband who has supported and encouraged me every step of the way while building boober, from helping the business operationally and technically in its earliest days to preparing food almost every night while I’m teaching or speaking, to taking care of my daughter when I’ve had to run out to births or help a lactating parent in distress, to always and endlessly caring for and supporting the needs of our blended family while I work the long and odd hours required to build a company like boober.
Tom Poole, Sarah Elizabeth Borst