Des Moines Parent Spotlight: Melissa Schnurr
I have been blessed to have known Melissa Schnurr for a few years. As I began my personal journey in the birth world, she has always been a constant contact and person I refer to for birth doula services and yoga! Melissa is an amazing resource in our community for expecting parents. Learn more about her journey to becoming a birth doula, her favorite football team and more below.
Give us a little background on your family and personal life! How many kids do you have? Have you lived in Des Moines all your life?
I met my husband, Andy, when we were in undergrad at Iowa State (our meeting involved mutual friends, but we were not set up, a piggyback ride, and a car impound!) We were married on central campus in front of the Campanile in 2006 and moved to Green Bay, WI in 2009 after I earned a Ph.D. in Human Development & Family Studies at Iowa State. While living in Green Bay (I was faculty in Human Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay), I began practicing yoga, became a certified birth doula, and we had our first daughter, Ainsley.
After our daughter was born in 2010, we wanted to move closer to the family (and Iowa State football!), which is how we came to Ankeny in 2012. I have been working as an early childhood consultant for the Iowa Department of Education since we moved to Ankeny. Shortly after arriving back in Iowa, I took training to become a prenatal yoga teacher and was welcomed into the birth community as a doula. In 2014, our second daughter, Cora, was born at home with the help of Healing Passages Birth & Wellness Center.
What is your business, and what do you do?
My business was a gradual endeavor. Since 5th grade, I had an interest in pregnancy and birth. Thanks to my “boss” at UW-Green Bay, I pursued becoming a doula about 35 years before I thought I could (I didn’t know how I could navigate having a full-time job + being a doula because babies come when they want to! He gave me the encouragement to pursue my passion.) Along with my doula training, I took regular yoga classes while I was pregnant. After experiencing birth, I knew I wanted to bring together my doula training and yoga to support women as they prepare for labor, birth, and motherhood.
After I took my prenatal yoga teacher training in early 2013, I started teaching 6-week prenatal yoga series in Des Moines. Both my doula services and prenatal yoga classes grew by word-of-mouth. In 2016, I took the steps to make my business “official” and birthed Empowered Pregnancy & Birth LLC in Ankeny, which includes birth doula services, prenatal yoga, and baby & me yoga. I also dabble in doTerra essential oils. Along with becoming an LLC, I developed a website, Facebook page, and Instagram account.
Why did you become a small business owner?
Working with pregnant women and their families is what fills my cup. I can’t imagine my life without this “work”! I feel so lucky to be able to offer the birth-related services that I do – it is a bonus that it became a business to support my family.
My favorite part of working with pregnant women and their families is offering information and resources so they can become informed in their decisions. In addition, I believe that yoga supports the mind-body connection, which prepares women mentally and physically for birth and motherhood.
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play indoors?
My girls both attend dance at Encore Dance Academy in Ankeny, so we spend A LOT of indoor time there 🙂
Where is your favorite place to take your children to play outdoors?
We have a park 2 blocks from our house, so in nice weather, we like to go to the neighborhood park or play outside with all of the neighborhood kids. We live near the High Trestle Trail so get out on our bikes when we can as well.
Parent’s day/night out. Describe your perfect parent only day/night out in Des Moines.
Thinking about this question made me realize that Andy and I are slacking in this area! We need to get out on more dates. In the fall, our “dates” are Iowa State football games. Go Cyclones! The rest of the year, we enjoy eating and drinking at locally-owned restaurants.
What are some tips on juggling parenthood, working, and personal life?
I couldn’t do everything I do without Google calendar/drive, task lists, and Andy. 🙂 I also make time to travel with and without the kids to recharge.
What is your number one parenting tip?
This is a really difficult question for me to answer – my child development researcher’s brain is all over the place.
I think my number 1 tip is the opposite of everything I learned in graduate school – trust your “momma gut” (I don’t recall reading about this in the research). 😉 If you have a feeling something is “off” pertaining to your kiddos, listen to that and advocate for yourself and your child to reconcile that feeling.