...that have nothing to do with the actual act of pushing out your baby.
1. Most doulas, me included, base our work on EVIDENCE BASED INFORMATION. The idea of a "big baby" is not evidence based. The idea of your weight being a factor to not vaginally deliver your baby is not evidence based. The idea to have an induction because you are passed your due date is not evidence based. (Note, babies aren't fruit or milk, they don't expire. Therefore they don't have a due date.) One of our jobs as doulas to help inform you of your choices and the evidence and science behind what is or is not presented to you so that you can make an informed, confident decision about your birth.
This is an excellent website to find evidence based information evidencebasedbirth.com/
2. Whether you are a few days, hours, weeks, months postpartum, doulas are still your doula. We can help with all sorts of things besides birth. Baby won't sleep, baby is on a nursing strike, baby won't stop crying, baby won't sleep. OR you can't sleep, you're not eating, you can't stop crying. We are your resource for all things pregnancy, birth, baby related. And we really do want you to succeed as a parent in the way that works best for you. We are a tight community, especially in the Twin Cities, and we have resources and experts that we know personally and professionally to pass you onto.
3. In relation to the one above, doulas are someone to talk to that is not your mother/sister-in-law,/best friend,/nosey neighbor/old lady at the grocery store who gives you unsolicited advice. I mean, how often can you hear "You know, that child is going or not going to ...." and then they tell you something that you never asked for. I am not saying that all those people are bad people but some have a vested interest in the topic at hand and unknowingly may not say the right thing or give helpful information. You can show your sore, bloody nipple to your doula without being concerned that it may come back into a conversation without warning. Your doula is a neutral party with your needs and best interests at heart.
4. We are not your family. That being said, you are in the midst of creating or extending your family and all important parties should be involved as far as you would like them to be. The difference of having a doula versus a family member, we don't take our past stories or other births into your birth story. This is YOUR journey, YOUR story and we are just there to witness and support you as it unfolds. However, if you do have a wonderful relationship, we always welcome family members as long as you welcome them too.
5. This is so much more than giving birth. It is an intimate, vulnerable experience, not your high school graduation or 21st birthday party. It's a moment of tremendous change and you have a doula to observe your power, your love, your connection to your partner and your baby. Doulas are there for for you; to hold onto, to whisper your fears to, to take your frustration, to hold your space, to physically hold you up and to catch you when you stumble, literally and figuratively. And to watch your love heart grow 1000 times in an instant.
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In my doula work I have witnessed 38 women become mothers.* With each birth it has been my honor to watch not only the birth of a baby, but the birth of a mother. It really is one of the most awe-inspiring things I have ever seen. And I think I've seen some cool things in my lifetime. Not much compares to birth.
This post, Mamas, is dedicated to you. The ones that have welcomed me into their birth story, that have allowed me to hold their hand and witness their vulnerability and their strength.
I see you, Mama. I watched you become one and I know the hard work you have been doing since day one. I remember your calm demeanor when I arrived to be with you. The look on your face that said "Oh I'm fine. But thank goodness you're here." The release of tension now that you had someone to hold your hand AND someone squeeze your hips, you and your husband are no longer alone. I did what I do in my work and I watched you move the way you needed. I breathed with you, I held you, I encouraged you to do what feels right. You moaned, moved, cried, laughed, asked questions, needed reassurance. It may not have seemed so at the time, but you knew what you needed to bring your baby. And you may think that you didn't do much, but I can tell you, Mama, you did it all. I followed your lead. Your strength and stamina were amazing. In tough times they say the only way out is through, you went into that tunnel and found the light on the other side. You harnessed a vulnerability that one rarely sees, turned it on it's side to be used to benefit you at that moment and YOU birthed YOUR baby.
Be it a cesarean birth or a vaginal birth, you birthed this tiny human, that you created and kept safe for months. You also became a mother. In an instant. Two new lives now lay in front of me; one brand new taking their first breath, the other the same body with a whole new purpose and view on life. Some say that transitional moments leave marks on your body, in many, many cases of pregnancy this is so honest and true. But some other moments also leave a mark on places you can't so much as see but much more feel. You, my beautiful powerful Mama, left a mark within me. To witness life, changes you. Every birth I watch, I am changed for the better.
I became a mother and because of my journey, I became a doula. And I thank you today and ever more for allowing me to be a part of your birth journey. You are the reason I do what I do. The power within you empowers me.
And Happy Mother's Day.
Love, Your Doula
*I use the word "mother" and not the term "birthing person" because I have witnessed only cisgender women give birth. I do however, fully support the LGBTQ community and all terms associated.
Sarah: Birth doula, wife, mother, coffee and wine drinker, lover of beer, books and tattoos.