I’m Becoming a Doula
“What the heck is a doula?” This is the response I got from friends and family when I told them I was signing up for a “doula workshop.” Don’t get me wrong: my loved ones are used to my oddities. My recommendations to snack on coconut oil as a way to increase happiness, my post-grad decision to spend two months at an ashram in India instead of finding a job, my admittedly luddite tendency to punctuate conversations with dreamy ramblings about how we should all move to a scenic pasture don’t exactly scream “normal.” But this whole doula situation seemed to really throw everyone for a loop. If you’re anything like the wonderful people in my circles – you’re probably also wondering what a doula is. I’m here to clarify.
Doula is a Greek word that means “female caregiver.” A doula provides continuous emotional and physical support to a woman during labor, oftentimes meeting both before and after labor for consultations. She isn’t medically trained, but she’s versed in the intricacies of labor and delivery, acts as the mother’s advocate during labor, and encourages different relaxation techniques such as breathing, massage, and laboring positions in the delivery room. She facilitates communication between the healthcare practitioner and the mother, provides a shoulder to cry on, and offers advice and assistance where necessary. She’s like your best friend, partner, fairy godmother, and coach all wrapped up into one. Studies have shown that doula-assisted births lead to fewer medical interventions, shorter labor, and increased satisfaction with the birth experience overall.
I decided to become a doula because I’ve always been enamored with the feminine and I associate anything that makes me feel comfortable, safe, and truly at peace with being in the womb. I find the female body to be a gosh darn miracle, and think it’s incredible that humans spend the first nine months of existence being nourished inside of it. I wanted to embody the deep empathy associated with assisting in labor and be involved with that moment of entrance into the world. It can be a scary place out here, but I feel that fostering a space of openness, surrender, and true appreciation of life’s beauty at birth can lead to some seriously high vibe changes in the world.
Image: Gustav Klimt, Mother and Child via Doublethink
I did my training through DONA International, the world’s largest doula association and spent three full days with a group of twenty other women from all walks of life. The workshop covered everything from the body’s physiology, to the complexity of the labor process, to the emotional rollercoaster inherent to birth. Although much of it was a lecture-style format, we also got physical and personal. We swayed on “birthing balls” (literally the same thing as exercise balls), practiced putting each other into positions to induce labor, and shared our own concepts of what we consider to be a positive birth. I can now legally call myself a DONA International Trained Doula (although to complete my certification I need to act as the doula in three births and get through a hefty load of reading).
Though I’m still young and haven’t experienced motherhood, I’m deeply inspired by the warrior queens who house budding life inside their bodies. I want to do everything I can to facilitate positive birth experiences – because life reverberates, and we owe it to ourselves to revere its poetry.
PS- If you want to be one of my first three births or are interested in working with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We’ve probably talked before via firstname.lastname@example.org, but you can email me directly at email@example.com.
Header image: Jeanette Ogden