So those that know me may find it strange that I’m writing about pregnancy or motherhood as I have never had a personal interest in either. But the hippie in me was curious - what is a doula? A couple years ago a friend of mine mentioned having a doula while telling a story about the birth of her first daughter. I didn’t catch on what she was talking about. Then another friend and and fellow yoga teacher frequently mentioned this “role” on Facebook. I knew she also taught prenatal yoga and thought maybe the two went hand-in-hand. Well not really but I got them both to give me an earful! Here’s what I learned.
I’m going to start with my friend Laura’s traumatic yet beautiful story of the birth of her daughters. You must know once Laura gets wind of something - anything - she researches the hell out of it. She becomes the expert. During our chat the most profound bit of knowledge she shared is in past centuries women gathered around to assist each other with the childbearing process. We supported one another, we understood all the different emotions experienced during the birthing process. Somewhere along the way we thought it was a good idea to bring a man into the room. Ok ok I’m not saying your significant other shouldn’t be there but imagine how overwhelming it can be!
This led to the answer to the biggest question - why? Why a doula? Support! Laura wanted someone in there that could comfort her and could lead the way. Doulas are there to advocate for the mother’s requests but also walk them through unexpected situations. Doulas know just where to put their hands to ease pain and to refocus a mother’s energy. Many doulas also create a journal of the birth experience, taking meticulous notes of moments the mother may not remember.
With Laura’s first child she realized things do not always go as planned in the hospital. Doctors and nurses may not always put your wishes first especially today when time and money are the emphasis in any “business”. The doctor insisted a c-section was necessary. Laura was beyond shocked - she was devastated. She had been planning for a natural birth. The doula, who was (and is) in the room, could not tell the doctor no, but she could help Laura with understanding what was going to happen. During the procedure, the doula was able to advocate for more comforting medication and provide encouragement. The doula had been through this before and Laura was not alone. Once the baby was born, she was able to stay in the room with the Laura while Laura’s husband checked on the baby.
As I said, Laura is a quick study. For her second daughter she was bound and determined for the natural birth. She found “birthing circles” to hear from other mother’s whom share traumatic experiences. She not only found a new doctor but added another doula to her team. She also ran into a triage nurse that told her if she checked into the hospital too early, after 12-14 hours they would induce labor and require c-section. So her doulas got creative.
The first doula who met Laura at the hospital when the contractions started knew about a garden out back where she encouraged her to do lunges and squats to get the baby to drop. This was a complete 180 from Laura’s first baby where the hospital wanted her in a bed laying on her back. Totally unnatural. When they found Laura was still not dilated enough to check into the hospital they checked into a hotel where the doulas did their magic. They drew a hot bath and poured cups of water on her belly which Laura relished. They also found a comfortable position for Laura to let her belly hang which brought comfort and relief.
When Laura was finally able to check into the hospital the baby was still not quite ready to grace them with her presence they called in a third doula. This doula had Reiki experience and focused on clearing Laura’s chakras. This was something Laura did not remember, but the doula kept meticulous notes in the birthing journal. Something Laura was so grateful for. Shortly after, Laura’s baby daughter Seneca came into the world. 100% naturally.
My friend Evon is a doula and here is what she has to say!
What got you involved in becoming a Doula?
I heard about the profession in the late 90’s when a friend of mine was doing it in NY. It always stayed on my radar, but not until I got more immersed in pregnancy (through prenatal yoga and of course through my own pregnancy) did I start to think about it more seriously. A friend of mine was going to take a weekend workshop and asked if I’d be interested in the training.
Is there formal training?
Yes. It’s usually a 16-hour weekend workshop, followed by a reading list and an array of other steps to take in order to receive a certification through DONA (Doulas of North America). Part of the requirement is to take a breastfeeding class, birthing class and attend live births. I got positive write ups from the nurses, mothers and doctors as required.
Are you a birth doula or a postpartum doula?
I am a birth doula. I have not received formal training as a postpartum doula but some of the packages I offer my clients include postpartum care: massage, babysitting, yoga, etc.
Is there any relation to your doula occupation and yoga - specifically teaching mommy yoga?
The connection for me between yoga and doula work seemed organic because I taught prenatal yoga and have such a deep understanding and respect for the woman’s journey through this transition. Mostly on a mental/emotional level, it just fascinates me. But even physically - all we learn in yoga about body awareness, breath, etc… this ALL comes in to play during the labor and delivery experience.
I’m finding some great products by trying the samples Birchbox sends me each month. Here are a few items I really love.
Vasanti BrightenUp! Microderm crystals are ultra fine minerals that buff away tired skin. Serge Normant Dry Shampoo. I don’t like to wash my hair everyday and have tried many dry shampoos or powders but this is the BEST!
Healthcare as a business or business before caring. However you phrase it - it sounds cold.
“Whatever comes, let it come,
what stays let stay,
let go.” - Papaji
Check out the Archives!
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Are you Nurturing your Chakras?