It was an honor to attend my tenth birth as a doula this week. Over the past year I have supported families at three different birth centers, three hospitals, and home. I have seen strong women and steadfast partners.
Sometimes people think of babies when they think of doulas. Babies are great. They are beautiful, snuggly, and sweet. They make adorable sounds. If it weren't for babies there wouldn't be any work for me to do. But I'm not in this because of babies. I give my life to this work because of women. I want women to walk away from birth educated, supported, and confident. I want my clients to look back on their births knowing that they had the information needed to make the best decisions they could, feeling supported when it was hard, and confident that they are prepared to meet the challenges of parenthood. I also want to be the one who remains focused on her when everyone else begins to focus on the baby. Postpartum life is hard. There is lack of sleep, stress over feeding and baby's weight gain, feeling overwhelmed with a baby who doesn't stop crying. Everyone wants to see and hold the baby. But what about this new mom? Is she able to rest and allow her body to recover properly? Is she being well nourished? Is she feeling burdened as she tries to meet the needs of older children whole also trying to rest and care for the helpless new one? Even in this time - especially in this time - I want to focus on her.
I am wired for emotional and relational connection. I think this is why I have found this role to be so satisfying. Midwives and OBs have to be focused on physical well being. As a doula, I can jump into the depths of the experience with HER - not just her body, but fully present with HER. "Bringing heart and hands to support your birth" isn't merely a slogan, it is the core of my work.