Why I became a Doula
The short answer is; there is nothing I could do with my life that could make me happier! If I am not staying up all night, empowering and supporting people who are about to meet their babies, in hours, minutes, seconds; I don't feel fulfilled, and that is the truth. Not only do I then get to meet these brand new beings myself, I get to witness their parent(s) meeting them, and that is worth all the effort.
The long answer begins with my mom. I have been fascinated with pregnancy, birth and babies for as long as I can remember, influenced by of how much she loves her children. She and my dad have biological children, and children who came into our lives after they were born. Our big family, and her boundless love for us and for life in general made me feel like there was no other way to be in the world, and that has given me an eagerness to connect with people- especially with those embarking on something as incredible as pregnancy and birth. My little brother was born when I was seven and a half, and since then my mom referred to me as his ''second mom'', which I was always so proud of.
I remember being in elementary school and my teacher asking the class if any of us wanted to have children when we grew up. I learned that not everyone chooses to be a parent, and once I knew there was a choice, I knew there was no other option for me. As I got older, I realized that fertility is a privilege that not everyone has, and I knew that if I wasn't able to have biological children for any reason, I would adopt. My mom gave me her strong desire to nurture, and that, in essence, is why I became a Doula.
I still have a letter that I wrote when I was seven years old, addressed to my future children. I explained that I thought they would like to know what I was like when I was seven, and that I have always loved them. I told them about school, my friends, teachers, family, pets, and things like my favorite colour, animal and holiday (purple, dolphins and dogs, Halloween. All of these answers are still true.)
As soon as a co-worker of mine mentioned she had had a Doula supporting her at her birth, I was intrigued. What is a Doula? A Childbirth Assistant, a Labour Coach, a Birth Educator, aiding in decision making, pain relief and providing constant support throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and postpartum. This sounded exactly right for me.
As I learned more about birth and modern maternity care, my passion became something stronger- something irrevocable. After my training with DONA I read Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, and I could never think of birth in the same way. The importance of this work was too clear to me, the issues too real, and the potential and necessity for change too great to not be a pat of the 're-humanization of birth' movement.
I am fascinated by the process of creating life and meeting these beautiful brand new beings. I want to support anyone that is going through the process of creating life, even if they are not going to be the parent themselves. If someone feels that their babies best chance is to be raised by someone else, I want their experience to feel honored and sacred. I want to support people who never thought they would become parents, and to watch them transform and fall in love with their babies. I want to support people who felt like me, who had always wanted children and couldn't wait to know them, to share their happiness in the moment they finally get to meet.
Everything about being a Birth Doula feels instinctual. I give water between contractions, offer snacks, apply comfort measures and help them rock back and forth during the rushes, reminding them to keep their jaws relaxed and their moans in a low pitch. I press acupressure points to help alleviate pain, time contractions and help explain what is going on when the midwife or doctor isn't there to answer questions. I encourage them to trust that birth is a natural process. I suggest to partners, friends or parents to help with the double hip squeeze, give massages or where to apply acupressure. I educate them about their choices and advocate for their preferences by reminding them to ask questions when faced with a decision. I teach them about hormones during labor and the importance of relaxation and trusting in your body to help keep stress hormones that counteract labor down. I remind them that they can do this, and that every contraction brings them closer to their baby. I fan faces and bring water to lips during the pushing phase and maybe take pictures or a video if the parents ask me to. I have the honor of being with them when their baby is born. I step back and let them meet their new family member and help initiate breastfeeding if needed.
Its the best job in the world.