what kind of doula am i?
I attended my first-ever birth (that wasn’t my own) in 2009. A dear friend who was planning a homebirth ended up being induced, and begged me to come with her.
I barely knew the word “doula” until after I’d already been one.
She had no family around and her husband was deployed or in the field - so we lied and said I was her sister so that I could remain at her side in the hospital.
I remember the nurses repeatedly questioning whether I was really her sister. Later, a mutual friend who also happened to be her midwife came by, and we did Reiki for her together. The nurses were definitely weirded out by us.
All that happened during my 4th pregnancy.
I remember breathing deeply as I walked into the hospital and down the artifically-lit halls, trying to not give way to a panic attack - for my previous birth had taught me that hospitals were extremely unsafe places.
I had to keep reminding myself that I was not their patient, that I was there voluntarily, to help protect my friend, and could walk freely out at any time.
My 4th birth was my first homebirth, and my 5th unassisted birth was even more healing and free.
In 2013, I realized that maybe becoming a professional doula was a viable path toward generating finances that wouldn’t also stomp on my soul for 40+ hours a week.
(I’ve never been a fan of “regular” jobs.)
It honestly didn’t occur to me that I ought to seek a training certificate to “prove” that I was a doula.
I’d already done it, and anyway, I had 5 children!
Do people even have a clue how much research and reading and learning and fact-checking goes on in the mind of a woman who’s managing her own prenatal care and planning an unassisted birth at home?
I knew (thanks to self-directed education) that I had the wisdom and experience I needed to guide expectant mothers, and none of my clients took issue with me being uncertified.
Call me arrogant all you like. Birthkeepers have been around long before certification programs existed.
However, the realities of being on-call 100% of the time set in quickly, so I looked into joining a doula collective in the city.
They wanted to welcome me, but insisted on me completing an “official” training first.
I chose one and worked quickly to complete my training, and very quickly found myself doing endless amounts of birthwork … but it was suddenly very different from the way I’d been doing it previously.
In a military town - women are often alone, used to doing things themselves, and crave the guidance of sisterhood.
It’s very different in the city - not least of all, because the dads are usually much more involved (i.e. not deployed).
As part of the collective, I was the “hippie doula”.
When answering clients’ questions, I noticed that often, my personal (natural) perspective was not aligned with what they felt comfortable telling their clients.
My focus on women and natural options was often gently redirected, especially as I shadowed their childbirth education classes. They recognized me as an educator (which I loved and still appreciate!) - but the type of classes they wanted to offer their target market was a very far cry from my own “womens’-circle style” curriculum.
For several years, I attended births every month - and once, 7 in a single month!
I learned so much from my time with those amazing ladies - but
Finally burnout hit me deeply after I attended a very long birth. A Cesarean, incidentally - which the mother did choose to blame me for.
By then, I understood that it’s not a doula’s “fault” if a client feels angry about what kind of birth she had.
Regardless, it was a shock, and a bit insulting too, to have someone I’d spent over 80 intimate hours with, claim that I didn’t do my very best to support her.
After that, I became much more selective about the clients I chose to support.
A few months later, I left the collective on good terms, and sought other money-making opportunities that were less demanding of my time, and allowed me to sleep in my own bed!
However - as grandmother midwives often say, once a birthkeeper, always a birthkeeper…
My passion for childbirth has never left - but things are much different in the birthwork world now:
—I’ve seen the rise of the pro-doula community, which wants doulas to quit undercharging and “elevate the profession” - a mixed bag, in my opinion.
I remember a time when I could no longer book childbirth education classes in my local area - because a new birth pro in town started teaching them for free. Sigh…
Remember how I got into birthwork as a way to make better money? That’s definitely aligned with pro-doula-style ambition.
Remember how I didn’t care about having any ‘official qualification’ - and neither did my clients? That kind of unbridled sovereignty + confidence undermines doula certification profits.
—Inclusivity is the new hot-button issue in birthwork, and doulas are scrambling to make their websites and teaching materials as un-gendered as possible.
Again, I see this as a major mixed bag. I think well-meaning doulas (who seem, overwhelmingly, to be straight, white, financially stable women), are taking the concept of inclusivity too far.
So I’m an ‘old-school’ birth pro (or maybe :gasp: a ‘TERF’!) … because I’m relentlessly sovereign and value femininity - ?
Okay. So, how’d I get here, exactly?
After my unassisted freebirth, I received a divine download from the universe and felt COMPELLED to start writing.
I filled up notebooks with pencil-scratches, writing feverishly at 2 and 3 and 5AM while nursing my newborn babe, in the dim glow of the night-light, instead of sleep.
This is how the original Birth Empowerment Course was written, over six months, in 2011 and 2012.
I didn’t ‘get an idea’ to write a childbirth curriculum …
No, I felt like I HAD to write down all the ideas and insights and perspectives that were continually spilling forth from my mind and heart - and then it occured to me - I’d created something that needed to be shared!
My original womens’-circle style curriculum is currently being re-invented for the fourth time. This version will be taught in video format, with gorgeous, hand-illustrated slides - a major upgrade, and filled with even more hard-won wisdom.
It’s woman-centered, natural-birth centered, and in my opinion - even more relevant today than it was ten years ago—
..back when I was sitting on the floor of the local birth center, charging barely enough to cover my own printer ink for handouts - yet getting rave reviews.
So to answer the question - what kind of doula am I?
I’m a doula who’s had a multitude of experiences, both professional and personal. I am intimately familiar with birth trauma, and I am a freebirth advocate.
I’m a doula who recognizes that my unique skillset and experience are greatly valued by women (yes, women) who are seeking a holistic, natural birth experience at home, either with or without a midwife.
I’m a doula who only attends out-of-hospital births - and I offer 1:1 consults and digital support via my website.
I’m a doula who views birth and mothering thru the lens of womanhood and the divine feminine.
While I’m very aware that there are successful doulas without children, and doulas who are not women … you won’t ever convince me that motherhood doesn’t count.
I view babies as conscious, connected beings who are worthy of our respect and regard, and this starts long before they arrive Earthside.
I believe that when we reconnect with our femininity and intuition, birth has the best chance of unfolding as it has for centuries - naturally.
I am not willing to carve away and repress any part of mySelf - and instead, I embrace the fact that I’m not for everybody.
I am not Walmart - and my offerings are not generic products off the shelf, designed to be bland, unremarkable, and therefore suited to anyone. In my opinion, anything we attempt to make suitable for everyone ends up becoming suitable for no one.
So - welcome to my unique perspective on birth. It’s intuitive, feminine, and spiritual in nature.
I believe in holistic pregnancy and birth, connected mothering, and conscious, sovereign living.
Yes, I am biased - and I own it.
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