My Path to Becoming a Doula

I had the pleasure of sharing my doula journey with Brio Birth.  Ever since attending my first birth as a doula I’ve been wanting to write about this.  I’ve grown so much, and my perspective has changed quite a bit along the way.  I knew that writing it out would give me the opportunity to work through my thoughts and feelings better.

When I was asked to write a guest post it totally gave me the motivation I needed to get it done.  As I suspected it felt great getting it all out.  It felt even nicer to read the responses from other doulas.  The path to becoming a doula really is one where an incredible amount of self growth and honesty with one’s self happens.  

Without further ado, here’s a link to the blog entry…

The Path to Becoming a Doula Is One of Self-Growth and Honesty

When I share that I’m a doula I get a wide range of mixed reactions.  Some liken it to midwifery, while others simply have no clue what one does.  Then there are those who have experienced birth with a doula who rave about it to no end.  Despite the mixed reactions I’ve received, I’ve noticed that this childbirth option is growing in popularity.  More people are taking the idea of hiring a doula seriously, and more women seem to want to fill the role as one.  

I know with myself, my desire to help women along this journey came after my own experiences with birth.  I had an “okay” hospital birth with my son and a transformational home birth with my daughter.  Both experiences taught me that a plethora of myths exist in the birthing realm.  Given the person I am, I found it difficult not to share my experiences and knowledge with other people.  The more I shared the more I sensed that this information was not always received well.  I decided that it would be in my best interest to channel my passion in a more constructive manner.  Becoming a doula seemed like the natural path to take.  Though I had not hired a doula for either of my birth experiences, so I knew I had a long road of discovery ahead of me.
The first step I took was choosing a program to train and certify with.  I found that as with childbirth there are a number of doula training/certification options available.  I joined birth and doula Internet boards to read personal experiences with various programs.  I also spent a lot of time reading the details of each program.  In the end I went with Childbirth International.  The flexibility of being able to study at home, free of deadlines was important to me since my children are still young.  The certification also never expires which I found to be a huge plus since I plan on seeking out continuing education and don’t want to be tied down to one organization.  The program has definitely helped me define and understand my role better.  The program itself consists of three sections; communication, birth physiology and birth doula skills.  Items that I had to submit included a writing assignment, exams, a survey of local childbirth class options, and three book reviews from a required reading list.  
It was after reading The Doula Book by Klaus, Kennell and Klaus that I discovered that women who feel supported during the sensitive phases of birth often go on to be confident mothers with healthy emotional states.  When we actively participate in what happens to us it builds our confidence with being able to deal with other challenging situations life may throw at us.  A skill that is very useful when in the midst of a typical day in parenting.  It was after learning this concept that I understood at a deeper level the societal contribution of doula work.  The studies included in The Doula Book also exhibited a number of obstetrical benefits.   Women who had doulas present had shorter labors with less perceived pain, which also translated to fewer epidurals.  The rates of interventions, including cesarean section, were also lower in the doula groups.  This was fascinating to me since I had learned through preparing for my daughter’s birth how our fears and our environment (including who’s present) can influence how our body functions.  Learning this showed me how a doulas presence can set the tone of the room, effectively creating a more conducive environment for giving birth.  
One aspect of my training that I feel was a pivotal part of my development was the writing assignment I completed.  The reflective process that I used while writing it caused me to discover a not so appealing motive within myself.  While my overall desire was to help families, I found that I unconsciously was still blaming others for things that happened during my son’s birth rather than taking responsibility for my choices.  By remaining a victim, I was viewing my role as one where I’d be saving women from their circumstances rather than empowering them.  It was this realization along with the ones above that allowed me to view my role in a much different light.  I now believe the support I offer will have more of an impact than any intervention that might happen along the way.  We all come to discover our truth and power in our own time and it isn’t up to me to force or define it.  It’s simply my job to be present as it unfolds.
I had the pleasure of attending my first birth as a doula in January.  I still need to attend one more birth before I can request my official certification.  I had typical fears that most have when diving into uncharted territory.  Especially since this birth brought me back into the hospital setting.  The experience ended up being fantastically enlightening.  The most rewarding part was watching the family in action.  I witnessed first hand how their conscious decision making contributed to a fulfilling experience for them; including the decision to hire me.   I believe my presence sent more of a message than anything I could have spoken with my mouth.  The attendants knew that the family meant business and that they were getting their physical and emotional needs met.  Witnessing this family in all their power taught me that people can have a satisfying birth experience wherever they feel most comfortable.  The key is being aware of our power and choosing supportive people to share the experience with.  I look forward to what my future experiences with birth will teach me.             
Are you interested in becoming a doula?  What was/is your motivation for doing so? 

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