I have been considering for a long while to take on advocating for women during their childbirthing years by becoming a professional Doula but choosing to have children myself and caring for them has taken precedence. Yet over the years I have been advocating in my own way through my writing, through participation on forums, attending workshops and talks, independently studying birthing research and reflecting on anecdotal evidence from the real mothers I encounter. I naturally do all this out of pure interest in the subject, as I simply cannot get enough knowledge on women’s birth experiences and needs. I have been curious about pregnancy and childbirth since very young, even drawing images of women with child repeatedly in my early teens for some mystical reason because I was so strongly drawn to the mystery of life that women naturally channel. Once I became a mother myself, I was then strongly drawn to the politics around maternity care and sought to dismantle many of the myths girls grow up with about their bodies and how they should birth their babies. Which brings me to where I am now, possibly pregnant with our last child and looking to the future when my children will be grown enough for me to invest more of my time into sharing the knowledge I have gleaned with women who could benefit.
Although the midwifery profession interests me, the current political climate around that field leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and I have not the patience to navigate through all the restrictions on their services to women without losing sight of what is truly important: the women and infants themselves. What I am truly drawn to is supporting women emotionally on their mothering journeys and I can do this by donning the mantle of Doula instead. I have been musing about what kind of Doula I would aspire to be; like what that responsibility would mean to me and what I would aim to offer women. There are varying definitions of what some consider a Doula to be, or expect from a professional Doula, and the following is what my personal philosophy would be in regards to supporting women during one of the most transformational events of their lives:
My personal philosophy is that all knowledge is worth having, and that exercising conscious choices in our lives empowers us and supports our personal growth as people. The transition from maiden to mother is a wondrous one, but is a rite of passage that is usually devalued in our culture. The mind-body connection of pregnancy and childbirth is potent, and is often completely ignored in typical maternity care which creates a cascade of complications during labour that could easily be avoided with some forethought and with quality support.
My key intention as a Doula then would be to help women prepare psychologically for pregnancy, birth, and motherhood by helping them process their emotions and addressing any myths they may have learned about the nature of childbirth through the media, from relatives, and friends. I would ensure that they are aware of their choices in maternity care and help them uncover and navigate through what they intuitively feel is right for them and their family. Because I will not be tied to any one establishment, being hospital, birth center, or any particular association, the information given will be as close to unbiased as I can offer since there is no hidden agenda to the advice given.
This would be attained via group informational workshops and private therapy sessions that focus on working through psychological barriers in attaining satisfying births to allow women to make informed decisions based on current research in maternity care and traditional women’s wisdom. I would provide local resources for locating desired caregivers and birthing supplies, as well as direct them to additional workshops that may benefit them.
As part of my unique services, I would offer accompaniment to prenatal visits with chosen caregivers, ensuring that their right to informed choice is being properly presented and follow up by assuaging any apprehensions they may have about their care that was not adequately addressed. When accompanying women during their actual labours, I aim to protect their birthing choices from the politics surrounding the maternity field by allowing them space to make informed decisions before/during/and after labour by smoothing the way for a positive experience regardless of its unfolding. I would offer consistent post-partum care as well, ensuring that women process any residual negative feelings from their births to prevent PPD and help them move into a healthy state of mind to mother in by helping them learn to accept the variety of birth outcomes with grace.
A side project I would like to manage as well is facilitate a positive community of women through the creation of an online forum for mothers to browse and pose questions and get woman-to-woman support throughout their pregnancies and beyond. I would also like to utilize my artistic abilities and provide workshops for belly-casting, birth art, and conduct blessingways.
Some of the skills I would need to accrue in order to provide this level of care to my patrons involves the independent study of alternative therapies and collecting specific certifications such as:
*Lactation consultant: breastfeeding peer counselor and educator, as well as alternative infant feeding support (SNS, wet nursing, formula supplementation) and offer safe bottle-feeding techniques.
*Infant and Adult CPR
*Optimal Fetal Positioning Techniques, Positions, and Exercises
*Herbal Remedies for pregnancy and childbirth
*Nutrition for Pregnancy
Post-Secondary Education Courses/Programs of Interest:
*Sociological Approaches to Health, Illness and Medicine
*Critical Appraisal and Evaluation of Health Research
*History of Health Care
*Biological Foundations of Behaviour
*Human Sexual Behaviour
*Psychosocial Aspects of Health
*Gender, Identity and Embodiment
*Psychology of Women
*Family systems, trauma theory, grief counseling
*Trauma/Addiction Recovery Studies Program
*Socio-anthropology of the Family
*This is by no means a comprehensive list. Professional education is an ongoing process which also involves attending conferences, workshops, and a plethora of other informational sessions that do not provide any certification but simply expand the knowledge base.*
I’m quite excited about the prospect of turning my passion for all things related to pregnancy and motherhood to something I can tangibly influence in other’s lives in a positive way. I am especially drawn to helping young mothers who are more at risk for unnecessary interventions and lack of adequate support. In a few years from now, after my children are less dependent on me, I will be ready to truly don the mantle of Doula. Until then, I will continue my independent studies and slowly amass different certifications as I can take them.
Have you ever been drawn to a particular vocation? How did you go about it? How do you feel about your progress?