The role of a birth doula is becoming more familiar in our culture, more in-demand, and part of the language of birth.
The statistics relating to doula care speak for themselves: Lowered rates of cesarean section, reduced rates of medical interventions, increased rates of maternal birth satisfaction. Those rates look good!
But, just what exactly does that mean? How can one person have such an affect on the process of birth?
Every doula working in birth works in their own way, has their own specialities, add-ons to their business, and packages available for purchase. Each doula is as unique as the individual. Meeting your doula and feeling that “connection” is essential.
I guess i would say my ultimate goal in my work as a birth doula is maternal satisfaction. This particular goal involves many components, but when I speak of maternal satisfaction, I am really talking about the way a woman feels at the end of this particular journey.
We start with meeting and getting to know one another; meeting her partner; talking about goals; talking about birth; discovering where the boundary lines of comfort lie; how pain is perceived, what fears are evident, what is known about birth, what is left to discover. We exchange information, we attempt to confront anything that may be blocking this path to a birth that feels unencumbered and safe.
My role, as I see it, involves education, information and choices. My role is to guide my client(s) through this process of pregnancy so that birth is not something to fear. Birth is mysterious and has it’s own way of working on each woman but if I am doing my job right, none of that feels scary, all of it feels normal and most important, she feels safe and supported.
I carry my bag with my little tricks in there for comfort and support, but really, if my client can know that she and her partner are capable and empowered, this is the best outcome. If she leaves her birth feeling like she and her partner really did it, really charted their own path, made decisions and used all the support available to her (and them), that is a victory.
This time in any woman’s life, no matter how many babies she has birthed, will always be remembered. She will always remember how she felt after the birth of her baby, how supported she felt when contractions got real, who she could count on, and how she felt hearing and holding her baby for the first time. My role in that is an honour and a priviledge and one I will never take for granted. My role in supporting women and their partners in feeling like they lead the way to the birth of their baby is an honour.
In the end, if women are holding their babies and feeling strong and capable, that is what this work is all about. So much of what a birth doula does is intangible. It can be put in a list, on a page of services, but it can never be explained in a way that puts a value to it on a page. It is my job, it is my work. It is challenging, it is unpredictable, it is hard work but it is always rewarding. It is always an honour. And I learn from each and every new person I meet and am humbled.
Kathleen Baker, Birth Journey Doula