If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen some posts the last few months about Doula training. I thought I would talk in more detail about that here on the blog, partly to share information you may find personally useful, partly to talk everything out for my own benefit (blog counseling, if you will), and partly to document the process for my own memories and for those who may be considering this path for themselves and are curious about what it entails.
Depending on how well you know me, there are a few different responses you may have had to the news that I’m training to be a Doula:
- A what?
- But you don’t even have kids yet…?
- That’s amazing, totally perfect for you!
Let’s address those…
A Doula. Does it quack? If it helps you birth your baby, sure!
Good ol’ Merriam-Webster defines a Doula as “a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth” and apparently it comes from the Greek word meaning “female helper”. That pretty much sums it up! Women have been helping women birth babies for forever, but with the advent and advancements of hospitals and the majority of births in the U.S. now taking place in them, it became less common to have a “female helper”, but thankfully it’s making a comeback.
Studies have shown that the constant emotional and physical support of a Doula during labor and delivery has benefits for the both the mom, her partner, the baby, and even the medical staff; the constant support has been shown to decrease labor time, as well as the need for drugs and interventions.
Doulas are NOT only for those who hope to birth without drugs, there are plenty of benefits from a Doula even if you are planning on having an epidural, or even a c-section. A Doula’s role may look different depending on the birth plan, but the goal is always the same – to help that Mom have the best birth experience possible, however that may look to her, even if things don’t go as planned.
I am really excited (and nervous) about pursuing this line of work and hope to do it full time within the next couple of years, either having my own business or possibly being employed at a local hospital. There is more training to be done – books to read, classes to attend, labors to assist with – so any and all prayers would be appreciated!
But you don’t even have kids yet…?
I know, and I can see how that might seem weird.
It was actually one of the main concerns I had going into this, and part of the reason it took me about seven years to work up the nerve to pursue it. Even though I knew that people without kids could be very successful Doulas, the main thought running through my head was “who will want to hire someone to help them through an experience they haven’t even been through themselves?”
Then I attended a Doula Intro class at Mother Tree Birth and that concern was obliterated, along with a few others.
Male Doctors deliver babies and they haven’t experienced birth themselves, and there are Physical Therapists and Counselors helping people through all sorts of serious physical and emotional situations without having experienced them all personally. As helpful as having first hand physical knowledge could be, it could also make it harder to shake off preconceived ideas about birth based upon your own experience. Not impossible, obviously, but the fact that I haven’t been through it myself could be a benefit.
Ultimately, all women are different and all labors are different, so no matter what your experience is (or isn’t), every single labor is a new event and nobody knows how it’s going to go. Whether or not you have birthed children yourself, it makes no significant difference to the way you help another woman birth her own baby because you leave your experience at the door – it’s not about you, it’s all about that particular Mom, in that particular labor.
Some women may feel most comfortable working with a Doula who has been through childbirth herself, and that’s okay. It’s about that mom, not me, so if I come across that I won’t take it personally. Since the Doula community is pretty close-knit, I’ll actually have a bunch of people to refer that mom to.
That’s amazing, totally perfect for you!
Well thanks, I’d like to think so.
I’d also like to think that your belief in me is another affirmation that I am on the right path. It has been frustrating not knowing what I want to do when I grow up (what age is that, anyways?), and this is the first thing career type of thing I have been excited about in a long time.
There will be plenty more on this subject, I’m sure, but I’ll leave it at that for now.
If you have any questions at all, I am an open book, ask away!!