Becoming a Doula

In March I decided to take the steps to become a Doula.  It was not something I ever imagined for myself, but now that I am stepping into it, it feels right.  It was a light bulb moment for me.  My good friend, Angela, had her beautiful daughter in January and used a Doula.  At one point she asked me, “Have you every thought about doing this?  You’d be so good at it!”  I think I laughed at the time and told her I wasn’t a “hospital person” and not able to handle a lot of poop.  Side note: my older sister’s roommate, Abby, is a nurse and has 1000 stories related to poop that are disgusting and make me respect nurses even more.

In January I went back to Chicago for a family emergency (more on that another time) and spent a considerable amount of time in a hospital.  I learned a lot about the hospital system, but more than that, I learned a lot about myself and the importance of patient advocacy.  When I came back to LA, I was lost.  I literally got off the plane and said to myself, “What do I do now?”

I got myself into therapy, as every good LA resident should, and began doing some soul searching.  My dear friend, Michelle, knew someone becoming a Doula and asked me if I had considered it.  Her enthusiasm infected me and I looked into it.

I didn’t know much about it at the time, and maybe you don’t either, but a Doula is a labor support person.  She supports the mom in achieving the ideal birth- and this is my favorite part- as the mother defines it.  So, it’s not about what I want her to do, or what the doctor wants her to do, or what her neighbor thinks she should do.  It’s about what the woman giving birth wants and feels and allows her body to do.  It is judgement free.  It changes from moment to moment, but remains in the mother’s hands.  That is what I love about it.  It’s about giving control BACK to the woman doing the work.

I sound like a doctor hater, don’t I?  Well, I don’t mean to.  I just feel strongly that birth is not a “sickness” or a disease we need to hurry up and cure.  It’s a process and a passage into motherhood that should not be dictated by the doctor, hospital, or insurance company.

As I go through my certification and talk to more people about this process, I feel the Doula identity emerging, and I like it.  When I think back on past work I have done, so much of it has been in leadership positions where I am called upon to guide and inspire people to do things they don’t think they can do.  I was a marathon runner for many years, and convinced more than a few people to try it.  And they did, and many of them continue to run today.

In case you would like to learn more about what a Doula is, or look into certification yourself, check out DONA International.

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April 25, 2011. Tags: . Doula Stuff.

One Comment

  1. Kate replied:

    Awesome blog, my friend. Great, brief description on what a doula does too. I’d never heard it quite like that before. No doubt it fits your strengths and passions beautifully. Looking forward to your next post!

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