D is for Doula

First, a quick moving update before I get into what this post is really about. We are settling in nicely, the boxes are dwindling day by day and I’ve found that unpacking is way more fun (but more confusing) than packing ever could be. Unfortunately, we are still without Internet. Fortunately, however, there are plentiful Starbucks around that don’t mind a couple of loiterers on their laptops borrowing their Internet. We even got local numbers! That’s all for now.

-Imagine a photo, here of our apartment door (Apt D) that is left open. It’s symbolic.-

Big changes are a-coming! Along with moving to a new city, settling in there and Dave going back to school to start a new program I am also starting to build out a path for myself. I had been contemplating this career change for a few months, asked my moms what they thought and finally decided to go ahead with it. The long and short of it is: I’m going to become a doula! Yesterday, I registered for an upcoming workshop so now it all feels Very Real.

I’m sure you all have a metric tonne of questions, so let me spit out some basics and we’ll see where that leaves us.

Who?

Me! Haven’t you been paying attention?

What?

I’m becoming a birth (and, eventually, also a post-partum) doula! Gosh, you really aren’t doing your part in this conversation.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the word doula:

A doula (pronounced “doó la”, also known as a labour coach and originating from the Ancient Greek word δούλη meaning female servant or slave) is a nonmedical person who assists a woman before, during, or after childbirth, as well as her partner and/or family by providing information, physical assistance, and emotional support. The provision of continuous support during labour by doulas (as well as nurses, family, or friends) is associated with improved maternal and fetal health and a variety of other benefits.

A variety of organizations offer certification and training to doulas, though there is no oversight to their practice and the title can be used by anyone. In contrast to the goal of medical professionals (a safe childbirth), the goal of a doula is to ensure the mother feels safe and confident before, during, and after delivery. Doulas can be controversial within medical settings due to pressure on mothers to avoid medical interventions and pursue natural childbirth without an epidural or medically necessary caesarean sections.

Where?

I’ll take this as an opportunity to explain how becoming certified works, as it’s a bit different than a traditional training program. As Wikipedia alluded to, above, there is no oversight in certification organizations and “the title can be used by anyone.” Anyone can call themselves a doula, as there is no formal degree or discipline program to go through where you would end with a college or university-accredited degree. However! There are Internationally-recognized training programs to go through and DONA International (the one I have decided to study with) is the largest, oldest and most-respected organization. And you all know how much I like things that are large, old and respected!

When?

Thats an interesting question you have asked and I’m not sure how to answer it! Well, my 3-day workshop is at the end of October. Before then, I have to take 16 hours of DONA-approved childbirth classes as an observer (I haven’t decided which classes to go with.) There’s also a conference happening in London in September that I’m looking into attending, even if only for the 1 day they will be having doula speakers. I will post a more formal timeline once I’m back to having consistent access to the Internet.

Why?

The short version of this story, and what I filled out on my workshop registration form is that “I feel like its important that women gain the knowledge and use resources available to them to have the best birth they want, the birth they chose to have.”

Okay, here’s the real meat in this doula-choice sandwich. Both my sister and sister-in-law gave birth last year, just 5 months apart and their birth stories could not be more different. I was lucky enough to be able to attend one of the births, the other one I missed by just 5 days (it was in California.) I have always had an interest in pregnancy and biRth but it seemed silly to be invested in something that felt so far away in my life, even before their pregnancies began. When my sister told me she was pregnant, I finally had a real reason to start researching and we would Skype every so often about different decisions there was to make. (More than you can even believe.) I also feel like it’s a (semi) mainstream, feminist-friendly career choice which is one negative to working in retail/loss prevention: I never felt like I was Doing Good for a greater cause.

Well, after my sister in law’s son’s birth, I became certifiably obsessed with the whole process. Then, in March, she co-hosted a film screening of a movie called “Doula!” in celebration of World Doula Week. Even after that, I wasn’t convinced it was the path for me. After months of reading and researching (and some slight prodding from my mother about what I’m doing with my life (in a loving way!)) it came to me! I stayed up night after night staring into the computer while Dave lazily snored his nights away, content in his career path, and I finally decided this was the path for me. I’m still working out the kinks and feeling more nervous as October is looming ahead but, at the same time, I couldn’t be more sure and happy about the choice I’ve made. And now, you all get to watch it happen!

So, there it is!

An added bonus is that my initials (VAG) lend themselves very well to the name of my future business. If you can come up with the winning name, you’ll win a prize! Maybe a crocheted vagina that I feel reflects your personality? Maybe a pin inscribed with the phrase “I heart a Doula and So Can You.” Maybe something else, who even knows?!

Alright kids, this post is plenty long enough and this Starbucks is getting colder by the minute! Or, maybe that’s just my drink? Feel free to leave me all of your encouraging words in the comments.

XO

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12 comments

  1. Sarah

    You can do it! I believe in you!
    Ps drove by your place yesterday, nearly cried since you aren’t there any more!

    • Valerie @ Broader Borders

      Thanks for the support, as always, Sarah!
      Aww 😦 We were sad we couldn’t see you guys when we were down last week, but I’m sure you were all enjoying your time away! We’re looking forward to seeing your clan on Saturday!

  2. Molly

    This is awesome! I’ve thought about becoming a doula as well, and tying it into a pre/post natal and infant massage practice. I just want to squish babies for a living, lets be honest.

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