Meet Laura Jawad, a pre/postnatal fitness coach & birth doula. She offers services to support pregnant and postpartum people in and around Seattle’s Eastside.
Your Story – a little “About You” – How long have you lived in the Seattle area? Where are you from/why did you move here? What do you do for a living? Have you always done this?
I’ve been in Seattle for about 10 years (which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere!). Before this, I lived on Cape Cod while I worked on my Ph.D. in Oceanography. I moved to Seattle for a post-doctoral fellowship. I was in research science for almost 20 years before I made a sharp pivot into the world of perinatal fitness and birth work. I discovered this world when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I haven’t really looked back since!
Do you have any personal mantras?
Nope, not a mantra person. But I do have a sign over my desk that says “Put your hair up. Drink some coffee. Handle it.” and I do feel like that pretty accurately reflects the attitude that takes me through a lot of life’s sticky spots.
What is your greatest personal skill/trait?
Ha, I had to ask my husband about this one! He says, perseverance. And I think that’s up there. I like to do hard things: Ph.D. Endurance sports. Starting a business. None of them are for the faint of heart. And all require a long view and grit to achieve. Once I decide to do a thing, not much can stop me.
What helps you feel strong?
Lifting weights and running long distances. Growing up, I was always the academic one. I definitely subscribed to the story that I wasn’t strong and that I wasn’t good at sports. Now that I’m older, I’m busting through a lot of these myths and discovering I can run long, lift heavy, and excel in ways I thought were reserved for “strong” people. Realizing that I am one of those people feels amazing.
What is your love language?
Acts of service
When you get a quiet moment, what do you like to do the most?
In those RARE moments, I like to read, take pictures, garden.
How do you practice self-care?
I make time to exercise 4-5 times a week. That’s my non-negotiable!
What does success mean to you?
This is such a loaded question for me! The answer has been evolving over the past few years as I’m moved away from academia and into entrepreneurship. Success used to mean authority and recognition. Now I think success looks more like balance, security, and personal fulfillment.
What does the world need more of?
Compassion. We need more people who care about the experiences of other people. Particularly, we need more people who care enough about the experiences of other people to take action and make change.
If you could have a super-power, what would it be?
I would be able to fold all the laundry AND put it away with a blink of my eyes.
If you could tell your twenty-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
I would tell her to think harder about where she wanted to be in 5, 10, 20 years. I rode a tide of opportunities that led me to do some really cool stuff. But none of it was strategic and ultimately it directed towards a career I didn’t really want. I don’t regret going to graduate school, I don’t regret pursuing science. But I do wish I had thought more about what I could do with the degrees I pursued and the areas in which I collected expertise.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
I spend time with my family and friends. I run and lift. I read a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction and watch a little too much Netflix.
Why did you decide to pursue this career?
I am pursuing this career out of compassion and empathy for people who are navigating their childbearing years. When I was pregnant and newly postpartum, there was so much guidance that I craved and that I couldn’t find. I want to support pregnant and postpartum people as they navigate these chapters and these transitions. Particularly if they feel defined by their fitness or athletics. Particularly if they are managing pelvic health concerns.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur & a mom?
Pre-COVID times, my children were in preschool/daycare during the work week and I was able to get all of my business taken care of 9-5. It meant a great work-life balance. Now, it’s much harder. I’m caring for my kids full-time. I have a few hours here or there in the evenings or on the weekend so I’m temporarily scaled back relative to what I was offering. To be honest, it’s super challenging right now.
Please describe your relationship to fitness before, during, after birth
Before I had my daughter (kiddo #1), I was training for triathlons, half-marathons, and showing up consistently to my kettlebell gym. I love endurance sports and I LOVE events, so I would compete in numerous events over the course of the year. I have an amazing medal rack. I didn’t change much during my first pregnancy. In fact, I hit a distance PR (25k trail run) at 21 weeks. But it was tough on my body. After my daughter was born, I returned to running and swinging kettlebells, but I was doing so with pelvic health considerations that required active management. I also had a lot less time, so I’ve been much less active on the triathlon scene. When I became pregnant with my son, I scaled way back to prioritize my pelvic health. I stopped running and I withdrew from group fitness. I did however continue to strength train throughout my entire pregnancy. I had a lot more knowledge and experience and I was much more intentional about what I did with my body. Postpartum, I ramped back more slowly- but I’m now returning to the types of strength training I love and I’m running again.
Before I had my daughter, I think I had more to prove with my training. At this stage, I want my sports and training to serve me for the rest of my life. It’s a big mindset change. I imagine the balance will continue to evolve over the next few years!
Advice for other women in this season
I would tell pregnant OR postpartum people reading this, remember exactly that: this IS just a season. And if you need to scale back, sit out, modify or pivot- do so with the ultimate goal in mind: a strong postpartum recovery. Pregnancy and early postpartum are temporary chapters.
How has motherhood affected / changed / shaped your career path?
It obliterated my career path! Before I was a mom, I was on the path to a tenure track faculty career in academia. Now, I am building a business and a new career empowering pregnant and postpartum people to live their best lives during and after their pregnancy. I always had a feeling I wasn’t headed down the exact right career path. Motherhood was the spark I needed to make a big change.
What is a piece of advice you wish you’d received?
You have nothing to prove during pregnancy and the early months of postpartum. They can feel like forever, but they’re really a blink of the eye. It’s not worth stressing about maintaining routines, exercise, etc. because there will be more than enough time to get back to all of it.
How did your perspective of body image change after having your babies?
Body image has honestly never been a huge struggle for me. If anything, I think pregnancy and childbirth have made me respect my body even more. I feel like now I’ve finally witnessed the full expression of everything my body can do, it’s transformations, it’s strength, it’s resiliency- how could I not be impressed by that?
What advice would you give other mothers struggling with accepting their post-baby bodies?
Your body just did something absolutely heroic. It’s normal for it to take some time to feel at home in your body again after having a baby. I like to try and keep the focus on what the body has done (produced your sweet babe!) and the work it continues to do (healing from pregnancy and childbirth, nurturing a new life). Don’t compare your post-baby body to anyone else’s- everybody, every pregnancy, and every postpartum journey is 100% unique.
You can follow Laura on Instagram!