How lucky are we? Working with powerful, brilliant, accomplished women who are changing the world is a constant joy. Meet our team!
Laura Wood, CHt, BHE
Laura has three amazing children. Her oldest son is in college now; her younger son and daughter keep her busy and happy. Before becoming a hypnotherapist and creating Blissborn, she was a full-time mom with degrees in Speech/Language Pathology and Psychology. She used hypnosis for the birth of her third child. Comparing her births (a previous Cesarean and another very, very long but natural hospital birth), she knows that hypnosis made her third labor easy, short and comfortable. At that moment, Blissborn was born.
Laura is always working on creating new content and programs for Blissborn. She coaches Blissborn Educators (see more about teaching Blissborn here). She also keeps close contact with the program and her passion by teaching Blissborn classes locally, and sometimes by phone or online with private clients. (Contact Laura about her classes.)
Shelley Black, CHt, BHE
Shelley has two awesome kids: a powerhouse daughter and a wildly adventurous son. After experiencing two natural births — one with breathing techniques alone, and one with visualization techniques — and Laura's daughter's birth using hypnosis, Shelley was motivated to get the word out about the power of hypnosis in childbirth. She left her corporate career and dedicated herself to developing Blissborn.
Shelley has degrees in Biology and English, and is also a hypnotherapist. She has run wineries and medical practices, and has also worked in journalism and editing. In addition to her ongoing management of the Blissborn program, she is also the office manager at Dar a Luz Birth & Health Center, a freestanding midwife-run birth center offering safe and supported waterbirth in Albuquerque, NM.
Meet our team
Rachel Rodriguez, MSW, MPA
Rachel stumbled on an old, free book on birthing hypnosis years before (finally!) becoming pregnant. Despite being induced with Pitocin, she used only hypnosis when birthing her son, and it was a peaceful, intense, and transformative experience. After learning of the more thorough and modern Blissborn program, Rachel enthusiastically accepted the invitation to join the Blissborn team -- to use her skills and experience leading the organization in the areas of communications, marketing and development.
Rachel holds Masters degrees in social work and public administration, having focused her graduate studies on nonprofit administration and conflict resolution. In her other professional role outside of Blissborn, Rachel helps to ensure safety and security for all, not just those who can afford it, as the Executive Director of Equal Access to Justice. Most recently, Rachel served as the Vision Director at Mountain Mahogany Community School. Prior to this, Rachel was the Deputy Director for Family Voices, Inc., an organization that promotes families as partners in healthcare decision-making. Rachel lives in Albuquerque with her husband, son, and stepchildren.
Photo credits above: Messegee Creative Designs
Jennifer L. West, LM, CPM, TBMP, CST, CH, IPE, BHE
Jenny has been a practicing midwife since 1989. She literally wrote the book on natural childbirth: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Natural Childbirth by Jennifer L. West and Deborah S Romaine (2009); and on placentas too: The Natural Healing Power of the Placenta by Jennifer L. West (2009). She is the owner of Albuquerque Homebirth, a practice that specializes in waterbirth, Blissborn, Total Body Modification, CranioSacral care, and various methods of energy work. She also owns The Purple Thistle Tea Co., a mail-order business. Prior to becoming a midwife, she worked for the National Park Service as a park ranger, and in law enforcement, emergency medicine, and structural and wildland firefighting -- all have proved to be a great background for midwifery! She served as the Peer Review Coordinator for all New Mexico licensed midwives for 13 years and is currently a Preceptor; she served as a Board member for many years and was the President of the National College of Midwifery (Taos, NM) for four years; she has also served several rotations on the NM State Midwifery Advisory Board. Jenny teaches Blissborn classes, as well as Infant CPR and many other birth-related topics at national workshops. Her website can be found here.
Jenny is on a new mission: she and Barbara are taking Blissborn to China! Paired up with a wonderful organization called YANMA, whose mission is empowering women through education, Jenny and Barbara teach and certify new Blissborn Educators in China -- and they are ambassadors for natural birth, waterbirth, gentle birth, and more.
Barbara Harper, RN, CLD, CCCE, Midwife
Barbara is an internationally recognized expert on waterbirth and gentle birth, and a published author. She founded Waterbirth International in 1988, with one goal in mind -- to ensure that waterbirth is an "available option" for all women. During the past four decades, Barbara has worked as an obstetric, cardiac care, and pediatric nurse; a midwife; a midwifery instructor; a childbirth educator; a doula and a doula trainer; and she has used her vast experience to develop unique seminars which she teaches within hospitals, nursing schools, midwifery and medical schools, and community groups worldwide. Barbara was recognized in 2002 by Lamaze International for her contributions in promoting normal birth on an international level.
Barbara first started traveling to China in 2002. She appreciates the culture and history of China, the vast knowledge in traditional Chinese medicine, and enjoys working with mothers, doctors, midwives and nurses. Her bestselling book and DVD, "Gentle Birth Choices" has been translated into nine languages so far, including the new Mandarin edition, released in 2016. Her next book, "Embracing the Miracle: The Science, Safety and Spirit of Birth in Water," will be ready for publication in 2017. Barbara has dedicated her life to changing the way we welcome babies into the world. She has three adult children (two of whom were born at home in water), and one grandson in college. She lives in Boca Raton, FL, where she is active in the community as a volunteer, a midwife and doula mentor. Barbara's website is www.waterbirth.org