When I share with new people that I am a birth doula, many ask what that is. The word doula is Greek and means woman caregiver. It is now used to describe a trained and experienced labor companion who supports the laboring woman and her husband/ partner. A doula will provide emotional support, comfort measures and guided education to a couple as they prepare for the most magical time in their lives.
With the birth of my own baby I learned just how important beginning your journey into motherhood is. I was well supported, encouraged, empowered and loved. During my pregnancy, my partner and I did plenty of research on natural childbirth, home birth, midwives, obstetricians, breastfeeding, medicated versus non medicated births, hospital births, cloth diapering, nutrition… the list goes on. We knew we wanted a non medicated birth so that when our baby was born everyone would be fully present and aware and both the baby and I could experience the natural flow of hormones that are released during labor and immediately after (medications interfere dramatically with this.) Labor was intense but very doable. My ancient sisters did this for centuries and just knowing that I am a mammal and that what was happening within my body was completely normal kept me going until my baby was in my arms.
When I remember my own experience with giving birth, and then listen to women share their stories, most of which are not positive, I wonder what has led to their negative experience? Was it them expecting childbirth to just be one of the most excruciating events they would go through so they allowed it to just be that way? Was it a lack of access to education about natural childbirth? Was it that they were basically bullied by their doctors to be induced, have a cesarean or otherwise turn their bodies over to their doctor (in other than emergency situations)? Whatever the case may be, I became a doula to meet women and help them access positive birth stories, educate them on the enormous benefits of natural childbirth, help them get a good start with breastfeeding and to advocate for them when they are in such a vulnerable state and may have difficulty doing this themselves.
Women are powerful creatures and I love them. I love the strength, emotions, vulnerability, courage, beauty, sensitivity and most of all uniqueness. Every woman is so different and comes with amazing stories, experiences and perspectives. To be a doula and serve women and their families is such an honor.
I became a doula to nurture women as they enter motherhood, or add a member to their family, just the same way I was nurtured as I entered motherhood. To be loved, supported, guided and encouraged really helps cultivate confidence in the woman so that she knows just how birth her baby, how to nourish her baby with the milk she makes, and how to care for her little one without a doubt.