hippie. crunchy. granola. earth mother. birth junkie. woo woo. all natural. anti-science. patchouli.
Interestingly enough, before I became a doula, I said the same things! In fact, I went as far as contracting with a doula for the birth of my first child. She embodied so many of the characteristics I listed above and I was pretty sure that was exactly what I wanted for the all-natural, magical unicorn, pain-free, orgasmic birth I envisioned. Then…reality hit! I was faced with an induction, experiencing terrible back labor, not coping well, not progressing as the doctor’s hoped for, and embarrassed to show my self-imagined defeat (asking for an epidural) to this magical lady who was going to help me have this fantasy birth. Long story short, she didn’t show up for the birth of my son who was birth by emergency cesarean after hours of minimal progress.
Where did I get this idea that doulas are supposed to be magical birth saviors and that by being present with their birth voo doo I was guaranteed to have this perfect birth?
I got this idea from the doulas themselves!
It makes you wonder how I went from the idea I had of doulas to becoming one myself and that was a long and coincidental process. I never imagined myself as a doula but after supporting a friend through the loss of her daughter, I wanted to explore becoming a Baby Loss Family Advisor. These amazing people support families through the loss of their loved babies. After that training I was required to sit through a childbirth education course or doula workshop to learn more about the birth process. I googled the nearest training and took it a few weeks later and I was hooked! I learned quickly that doulas provide valuable support and information to families as they experience pregnancy, labor, and during the postpartum period. I learned that doulas cannot predict outcomes but they can use tools to help women and families cope through the labor process. I learned that doulas can be professionals and make a living supporting people. My entire educational process has revolved around learning to support people as a counselor through emotional times but during pregnancy, birth, and postpartum was a whole new world!
As I began supporting clients I made it my mission to ensure a few things…first, that they knew I was there to support them and to help them accomplish their birth goals. I had no hidden agenda or secret mission for their birth. Second, to help them feel empowered to make pregnancy, birth, and parenting decisions that feel right to them. To give them the confidence to trust their intuition and tune out the opinions of others. Third, to raise the bar for expectations of doula support. I want to leave the doula profession one day knowing I elevated the role of a doula to a level in which others can aspire. That people will recognize and appreciate professional doulas knowledge, experience, and skill and value that.
Stars and Stripes Doulas are in the process of re-defining what it means to be a professional doula and when you think of us I hope these words come to mind:
professional. compassionate. honest. caring. unbiased. nonjudgmental. supportive.
Written by: Melissa Nauss