A doula said she was considering leaving doula-hood and invited people to read her blog regarding her desire.
Regarding making any difference at all and the difficulty being a doula in the environment out there at the moment, sometimes the ONLY thing I *can* do at a birth is love the woman.When every intervention is foisted upon her, her fear is showering her, no one else believes in her and she is incredibly disappointed in her choices (or her choice to be where there *are* no choices), the only thing I can offer is love.
I believe that my greatest role as a doula is to Be with the woman. Witness to her experience. Storyteller to her years later about the experience (or writing-storyteller if it's a transient relationship). A filter of experience that translates what happened when mom begins asking questions regarding her birth experience.
Many times, my role as doula is the most miniscule during birth; it tends to be much, much greater during the first year postpartum (and I do not mean as a postpartum doula, either).
Another part of the prism of my continuing to do occasional doula work even as a midwife is that I am able to speak confidently and truly about experiences that happen in the hospital and effectively communicate them to my childbirth classes and even my clients who find themselves, for a variety of reasons, within The System. It is painfully obvious which midwives have on-going hospital "training"and which don't. I suspect the same could be said for childbirth educators. Without continuous re-education or re-exposure, their words fall flat with inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Midwives who don't re-experience the hospital experience every so often seem clumsy and stilted when they lumber around the hospital room during a client's transfer.
I find my doula experiences over the last 22 years invaluable as I progressed towards being a midwife. So important, in fact, that I revive my belief in doula work periodically by taking a hospital client on as a reminder. I mean, 99% of the women in the US have their kids in the hospital, right?
Even if the 4 other (or 8 other) people in the room are ho hum about the bringing forth of a life, I know that I can BE with the woman and her partner and SEE the preciousness, witness that child's only time to take a first breath, witness the birth of a family and the addition of one more soul to the earth. While I no longer weep at birth (most births, anyway), even after over 800+ births, I remain humbled and honored to be invited in to such a sacred event.
I just wanted to share these thoughts with you as you consider leaving doula-hood.
A blog spot that concerned me was the one that discusses a woman who chooses not to take childbirth classes ("5 Dumb Excuses for Not Taking a Childbirth Class") and, particularly, clients who don't practice what they learn in classes... even going to the point of saying: On the other hand, if you are not dedicated to practicing and preparing, you just might not have a clue how to deal with contractions. But is that the fault of the childbirth education class?
I find this statement, and the entire piece, incredibly offensive.
Women inherently know "how to deal with contractions." True, birth provider (or lack of provider), birth location, and inner beliefs all play into the birthing experience, but blaming a woman for her potential (or experienced) difficulties in birth on her not practicing breathing exercises (or relaxation) is vulgar and cruel.
As a woman who has taught a variety of "classes" from Preparation for Parenthood classes for the Red Cross, through Bradley, and now a combination of Hypnobirthing and Birthing From Within gatherings... and a doula/midwife who has worked with thousands of women who have never had a class of any sort - women birth just fine without someone giving them a certificate for passing a class. For MANY women (not to mention their partners), class is boring, expensive, and a waste of time. And a huge bone of contention in the marriage at a time when harmony is better suited to preparing for a child.
Depending on the brand of classes I have taught, reasons for arguments with the spouse have varied from not practicing breathing exercises, not practicing perineal massage, and not practicing relaxation. I have seen that as my own "teaching" (guiding) style has changed, the arguments revert back to the basics of a marriage, mainly money. And the loud discussions are far, far less frequent when not about assignments from the childbirth teacher.
Women merely need to be reminded that they know what to do. If they lived in a jungle, they would know what to do. Even without a tribe of birthing women to witness her whole female life, she would find her way through labor and birth. Our culture that slams women into a bed and uses medications at the slightest whim of a doc or midwife has a whole lot to learn in childbirth classes, but breathing and birthing are the least of it. If she is left alone to find her way, she will rock and sing and moan and squat and kneel and sway and breathe and gasp and holler and grab and twist her baby out into the world.
One thing that is a constant in my birth walk over these last two decades plus is change. I learn from my women, their partners, my doula-sisters, my childbirth educator-sisters, the women who speak to me frankly and bluntly about their painful and fabulous experiences, the docs, midwives, and women who birth unassisted... and my words reflect that change. Not one gathering goes by that I don't alter my words or learn something, even from first time mamas.
What I know is They Know.
I honor their knowledge.