Boss Mom Spotlight – Ayelet Schwell
We want you to meet Ayelet
Ayelet Schwell is a doula, speaker, and educator for mothers and birth professionals.
She is the Founder of Healing Her Birth Services and Creator of the Birthing Our Stories Workshop
Over nearly 16 years of working in perinatal care, she has used her experience, knowledge, and intuition to guide mothers as they create their own positive, powerful birth stories.
Ayelet believes in the right of every birth-giver to have autonomy, dignity, and respect in their perinatal care and works towards that goal in her doula work and in her work with mothers who have experienced birth trauma through the Birthing Our Stories workshops.
Following her own experience of birth trauma, she found that as soon as people heard she was a doula, they would start pouring out their birth stories – often very difficult, scary, or traumatic experiences.
She wanted to find a way to give those stories their space and to truly be an ally to the mothers who needed a safe place to share those experiences and reclaim their intrinsic power, and that’s how Birthing Our Stories came to be.
Ayelet is passionate about raising awareness about the reality of living with birth trauma and giving hope that there can be healing and there can be joy.
As a mom of 6, wife, and business owner, she gets by on baby snuggles, coffee, and sci-fi novels.
Share a bit about your Boss Mom journey:
It feels like everything in my life led me to birth work.
I’ve never felt comfortable having my status dictated by someone else, so that made school, college, and standard employment a struggle.
I met my husband at a mutual friend’s wedding just after deciding to take a semester off from college. We were both working in midtown Manhattan and we just started IMing (yeah, I’m AOL messenger years old!) during office hours and sometimes we would meet for lunch.
I’m not sure when lunch turned into dinner, but at some point, we started talking about plans for our life and it just seemed to make sense that we would be writing that story together.
After we got married, I put college aside completely and enrolled in an intensive massage therapy program. It was an amazing feeling to be able to bring so much relief and healing through my hands.
Just before I finished my program, I found out I was pregnant and I focused my massage practice on prenatal and postpartum women. Their stories taught me how much fear and misinformation there was in standard care.
I’m the oldest of 5 kids and I can’t remember not knowing the story of my birth, how my mom pushed for an agonizing length of time only to be rushed to the OR for a cesarean because instead of tucking my head like a good little fetus, I was trying to be born face first, head held high, ready to face the world!
She felt that drugs and not moving in labor were to blame, she was determined to never have another surgical birth. When my sister was born 3 years later, she stayed home and mobile until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Her doctor said, “ok, mom, let’s get you to surgery.” to which she answered, “don’t touch me! I’m pushing this baby out – and I’m not your mother!” and she did. The rest of my siblings were also VBACS, way before ICANN and all the other support that exists now.
So I, too, planned for a “natural” birth for our first birth. I did give birth to my son without drugs, but I had to fight throughout the entire labor to be left alone. It was anything but natural.
Every hour the doctor came in and told me I wasn’t progressing fast enough and that everything would be better if I would just take “my epidural.” I was actually progressing with textbook accuracy – about a centimeter every hour.
When I kept refusing the drugs, they finally tried to bully me into taking it by telling me my noises were scaring the other mothers on the ward!
Later, when I had ripped off the monitors for the 100th time, the same doctor came in to tell me that I had to keep them on otherwise they wouldn’t know I was having a contraction – oh, I lost it!
I screamed, “You just told me the whole f-ing ward knows when I’m having a contraction!”
She didn’t come back, a different doctor delivered the baby. I felt confused. On one hand, I did what I believed I could. On the other, I felt disrespected, lied to, and mistreated.
A few years later, I was pregnant again and looking for different options. My husband was skeptical about home birth, but he was open to being convinced. We found a doula and a midwife who made us feel confident and excited about having our baby at home.
That birth taught me what our bodies are capable of when we are trusted, supported, loved, and truly cared for. I realized that I wanted to give that kind of care to other women going through the transition into motherhood. And it wasn’t about getting everyone to have home births, it was about educating women and their partners about their options, providing unconditional support and care, and amplifying their intrinsic power as women and birth-givers.
Growing your family as a doula is very complicated. We’re on call and might need emergency childcare. My husband would take off from work for daytime births, he believes whole-heartedly in the importance of my work.
Once my older kids were old enough to babysit, that made my birth work much easier! My family is amazing! They love the work I do and learning about pregnancy and birth. They love calling out inaccuracies in birth in the media and looking at pictures of gooey newborns and placentas! (Did I mention that I have 5 sons and one daughter?! These boys are going to be the best husbands!)
Now, in my more recent work to bring more awareness about birth trauma and resources for healing, my daughter has taken the role of social media manager (you can see her handiwork if you follow me!), and my oldest son has become my tech support and admin assistant! I love that they are part of this with me.
Last week, on my way out to a birth client, my little boys started singing “Happy Birthing Day to mommy’s client!” It was a beautiful prayer to bring with me to an inspiring, powerful, healing second birth after previous trauma.
What makes you excited about becoming a Boss Mom of the Week?
I love the idea of inspiring others to reach their dreams, even when it’s something like healing birth trauma, which is hard to talk about. And on that note, I love having the opportunity to raise awareness about birth trauma in a group of so many resilient and brilliant moms.
One piece of advice for moms who are starting a business
Get support! Find your village and give to it as much as you get. Find a coach that aligns with your needs and your audience’s needs. Be kind to yourself – we were never supposed to do this alone.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I tend to get introspective and try to reconnect with my own inner wisdom and connection with my divine intuition. When I go outside of myself for inspiration, I end up confused by a lot of different voices.
What are you currently reading or listening to (podcasts, books, blogs etc)?
On my podcast playlist right now is: Boss Mom, The Evidence Based Birth Podcast, and Dr. Aviva Romm’s podcast.
I’m reading Outlander (I love me some steamy historical fiction!) and I’m listening to Big Magic on Audible
I want to live in a world where…
where new mothers are given the same level of care and attention as newborn babies.
This is what I know to be true…
When birth-givers have a healthy, positive, and powerful birth experience everyone wins – mothers, babies, doctors, hospitals… the world!
And that if we want a better world and better birth care for our daughters, we need to heal our own birth stories now.
One thing you can’t live without…
My husband, he’s my anchor.
What is the big milestone that you are hitting that you are celebrating?
My milestone is that we have switched over to full-on homeschooling and we have finally found a good groove of enjoying learning together, and times of self-study that allow my husband and me to have time to work. I think that’s a pretty incredible accomplishment!
In my work, this year, we will have helped over 100 women to heal from birth trauma through the Birthing Our Stories Workshop – this is so humbling!
Website and social links:
Work with Ayelet:
For women who have birth-related emotional triggers, I have a simple response formula that lets you get back in control of your emotions: The Powerful Woman’s Trigger Response Formula.
And I have an ebook for people who are currently pregnant or actively trying who want to have a positive, healthy birth after previous trauma: The Powerful Woman’s Guide to a Great Birth