Well, I guess from all of the questions that I have recieved regarding the word doula, I need to explain. I am very happy to do so. I am a doula. I am Co-Director of a doula Co-op.
What is a doula?: TWO EXTRA HANDS AND A LOVING HEART
That is my definition, one that I strive to protect.
The word doula is a Greek word, meaning "woman servant" but I love to say that it means "Mothering the mother" Mothering the mother, so that she may mother the baby, and the baby will mother our world.
For one reason or another, and it is not my place to determine why- mothers, partners and caregivers are increasingly unavailable...hence, the doula is needed.
I believe a doula could be a friend, a mama's own mother, a neighbor, a lover or a hired companion.
Doulas are neither male nor female.
Doulas are a support system, maybe striving to be supported themselves, to achieve the same goal. Goals that come to mind are listed as: time to give of themselves as they are needed to the new baby, their families, their world. Creating a space, away from the everyday busy life, to heal, nurture, nurse and fall in love with the new creation/baby/life.
I could list statistics but I don't want to. I have a hard time believing them in comparison to stastitics listed about birth interventions, so I will not ask you to believe doula statistics. I will however say that research shows that there is less intervention, less c-sections and a greater number of empowering births if a birth doula is hired. Less child abuse, less postpartum depression, greater breastfeeding success and greater bonding if a postpartum doula is hired.
So, with that being said, I am striving to be valued doula. I am trained, I have the ambition. I strive to give enough information for my clients to make informed decisions regarding their birth and postpartum care and care of the newborn, while all the while they can't or won't listen to anyone else but the medical establishment, who has the monopoly on their care in a hospital birth, and seemingly darken my concerns. I will not be swayed. I know that the cesarean rate is growing daily, without pathological reasoning. I will continue to teach, to advocate, to learn about the growing crisis in maternalbaby medical intervention.
I am learning to be more fluid, less vocal and more complient but that really doesn't sit well with me. Silence hurts.
A doula not only creates a bridge between what could be and reality, but strives to warn the birthing and postpartum women that a bridge isn't necessary if proper education is being sought.
A doula commits herself to creating a sacred birth space, no matter where the birth is taking place. She/he is a shield for the mother to stand behind, to cower behind if need be, against a belief that is taking over our communities- that birth is a medical emergency. Truth needs to be in the room. Birth Truth. It is a doulas goal, in my opinion, to differentiate between the blind truth to the inherent truth. She/he needs to be able to convey the inherent truth to her client. Protect her client. Protect her sister, daughter, friend, cousin, stranger and client.
Give the client/mother many options to choose from. Let them make an informed decision. Stand firm before them with protection, letting them know that the opposite of fear is faith. Faith that they can grow a baby, push a baby from the womb, make decisions on their own regarding their health and the health and well being of their children. Allow them the space to voice their own concerns, their own rights, their babies rights.
It is incredibly hard to be a doula. A hardness that sometimes weakens when their own experiences from childhood, childbirth and mothering flash before their eyes. No matter what, a doula strives to realize that their own personal choices and decisions and paths are not what matters in the clients life. It is extremely hard to put aside our own beliefs and decision making strategies.
A doula uses their doula "magic" in their own life, their own family and seeks to create a peaceful, loving environment for all.
A doula supports, educates, sometimes voices their opinions, loves, bonds and artfully creates.
She/he may not know it, but this nurturing has been around since the beginning of time. Families, neighbors, friends and tribes have been giving healing teas, protecting, preparing nurturing foods, protecting the new mother/baby and telling stories of passed experiences since the beginning of time. What more is needed in the doula role?
My personal goal, as a postpartum doula (and soon to be birth doula) is to be advised of a hospital birth or home birth, goes to the place of birth and establishes breastfeeding, acknowledges the new mama and baby and gives praise and appreciation. Repeat a visit around 3 days postpartum to answer questions/find answers to problems that have arised, and explain how important the new mama is to the baby and how needed the baby is to fullfill it's purpose. Then revisit to again praise the new mama and baby with respect and be watchful of postpartum depression, go over questions and educate on infant and mama care, to the best of the doulas ability. All the while, be on call for questions and concerns, 24 hours per day. At each of these visits, my goal is to allow time to bond, heal and appreciate the bonding with the new baby and siblings. Be another support role model, not to replace the existing support but be an addition to (mama's own mother or partner or friend) and be valued as a caring, loving and educated human being. All the while, I want this service from doulas to be FREE of charge to the birthing families.
I pray for grants. Any suggestions are appreciated.
More doulas are needed in this world. Mothers and babies depend on their sacrifice and love.