I LOVE being a doula! Not merely like, not simply love, I truly, madly, deeply LOVE being a doula. There’s nothing more fulfilling in my eyes, than being a part of this journey. Watching life begin in the most miraculous way. Being a positive influence on the process. But possibly the main reason is because of the passion I feel about birth, and reclaiming our bodies, our births, and OUR IDENTITIES! Not everyone chooses to become a mom, and that’s just as awesome and wonderful as a woman who decides to have just one, or 100 kids! But regardless of our life choices, they should be just that: our choices!
Recently I attended a birth where a laboring mom asked the OB to tell it to her straight. “Are you going to cut me open, regardless of what happens here?” she asked, in an exhausted state. My heart fell to my toes (and probably fell the next three floors to the ground level, to be candid) as I felt more than heard the tangible pain and fear in her voice. This wasn’t someone begging to be done with labor, as the surgeon understood it, but a scared mom who felt her ideal birth slipping away.
Sadly, this is the reality for so many births! Surgeons, who specialize in cutting out babies from their mommies bellies, attended nearly 90% of births last year. And we wonder why cesarean rates are at 35+%? In areas where poverty levels soar, and access to midwifery care is severely limited, or even nonexistent, as much as 55% of births take place via surgery.
To gain perspective on this, imagine for a moment you’re about to embark on a new career, in a new city, and everything around you is completely unknown. Sounds exciting, yet daunting, right? Now, imagine you just had a major surgery. You’re unable to do even the most menial tasks, you have to clutch a pillow just to clear your throat, you can’t laugh without extreme pain, and you’re not even allowed to cook, clean, or even bathe, and yet you’re still expected to take on this whole new role. Welcome to motherhood after an unplanned cesarean!
Now, understand that there are many women who prefer this method to the pain, the unknown birth date, the side effects of vaginal delivery, etc. For these moms, it would be traumatic to be robbed of her ideal birth, as much as the mom with slightly, or even completely different plans. To suffer the consequences of someone else’s feelings or opinions, as well as the loss of the ideal birth is traumatic.
And that is why I became a doula.
Birth should be up to Mom and baby to dictate terms. When this can’t happen safely, when it’s not just a convenience thing, or the preference of those in the room, we are all so thankful for interventions, thankful that a surgeon was close by. We are not, however, thankful for one of the highest mortality and morbidity rates of all first world countries. So let’s change the face of birth! One mom, one baby at a time. Advocate. Hire a doula. Be a doula.