The Making of A Doula
I would like to point out how happy I have become with the societal narrative on what it means to be a mother today. With more women advocating for themselves on how they want to give birth, what they feed their baby, how they choose to parent, it became very clear in the last four years how important it is to honor each woman’s choice when it comes to her body and her child.
I am so proud of where we are as a society. Sure, some of us still need some catching up to do, but I have the faith.
When I began my journey as a writer, I hoped my words would inspire women (and men!) to access the beauty already living within. Using the things I draw inspiration from to inspire you into living your best life has probably been the ultimate gift. Have you seen Queer Eye on Netflix lately? Those guys speak so much truth over individuals who look and feel like they’ve got nothing to offer this world. All it takes is literally one person (or five) to call out what makes you wonderful, in combination with a little guidance on how to properly brush your hair, and your life changes forever. (If you haven’t seen this show you aren’t living a good life.)
Anyway, as much as I love talking about my love for you mothers, it’s time to put these words to action.
Last summer, I had one of the most honoring experiences of my life. I was asked to attend the birth of one of my close friends as her doula. To be honest, I was shocked she asked me. Besides my own births, I had never attended a birth, let alone assisted anyone in the process. I felt extremely unqualified and a little in over my head, but that didn’t matter. I loved my friend and I couldn’t miss this opportunity.
When labor day came, the adrenaline and admiration for the labor process kept me on my game and with her every step of the way. Even at 4am, when I was curled up in a blue vinyl lounge chair thinking there was no way I could even move a muscle, when the wave of her contraction began to peak, I’d jump up to squeeze her hips because I knew that was the only thing that gave her some relief.
And then, when the 20 hours of back labor overcame her and she needed someone to allow her to do what she wanted, I assured her it was okay to change her mind if the epidural is what she wanted.
And when the doctors told her she needed a cesarean, I mourned with her while still supporting her as she made the decision.
Even as she still processes the experience, I will forever want her to know how beautiful she was in those moments, how strong she was surrendering to each contraction, and how courageous she and her partner were for speaking up when it would have been really easy to surrender to what the “professionals” wanted.
Birth is so unbelievably beautiful. Birth is wild. It is normal.
These were all things I knew when it was my body and my babies. But this experience changed me forever. Having existed in that alternate universe for 24 hours taught me so much about myself and how I want to live this life.
I want so badly for these women to know how capable they are, how strong they are, and how beautiful it is to be your raw self. To roar, to cry, to experience the joy we were created to feel.
So this is what I’m going to do.
Three months after this birth experience, I attended a training to begin my journey as a Birth Doula.
When I started sharing this plan and vision for my life, I quickly realized how new this role actually is in the birth industry. When you tell people you are a doula, you hear a lot of “Is that the same thing as a midwife?” or “Do you have to birth at home to have a doula?” The biggest misconception I’ve found is the idea that a doula is present to advocate for the birthing woman.
The answer to all these questions is nope.
A doula provides physical and emotional support to the birthing woman before, during and after birth.
Let’s break this definition down real quick…
Physical support looks like squeezing the woman’s hips during every contraction, massaging her lower back and shoulders, or combing her hair with your fingers because it feels good. Might sound bougie, but no matter how you want to give birth, comfort is one of the most important aspects of labor. The more calm and relaxed you are, the safer you feel. The safer you feel, the more likely your body will respond in a positive way.
Emotional support looks a lot like words of affirmation. When you are in active labor, it’s really easy to think you’re not doing enough or that you are doing something wrong. With both of my labors, even though I knew what I was doing, it didn’t feel like it. I kept thinking… Am I doing this right? Is this what I’m supposed to be feeling now? Having my doula just say “You’re doing great” gave me the permission to trust myself and let my body do the work. And at the end of the day, it’s so nice having someone there validating this unruly experience as normal, to be expected, and dare I say… beautiful.
Doulas typically stay with their clients until an hour or two after birth to ensure the birthing woman is emotionally well, physically comfortable, and breastfeeding is off to a good start. It’s custom to schedule a postpartum visit after the new parents settles into a good routine to talk about the birth experience, address any breastfeeding issues that may have surfaced, and share resources for continued support if needed.
Doula’s do not advocate for the birthing woman. Instead, we encourage self-advocacy by addressing all the possible outcomes before labor begins so the birthing woman is well informed to make the best decisions for her and her baby.
As a Doula, it is my ultimate goal to help pregnant women feel empowered by their birth experience (no matter how they choose to birth) so they can enter motherhood with confidence.
If I could have my own Netflix original, I'd called it A Woman’s Eye and would basically be a show about how freaking amazing it is to be a woman because of our ability to birth! I would gather a team of birth professionals and we would all educate and encourage the mother-to-be to see and understand how powerful she already is. Actually, let’s call it The Making of a Wonder Woman.