Being a birth doula has become part of my identity. Being an advocate for pregnancy, labor, birth, and postpartum health, and lactation counseling has been a passion for the past few years. It didn’t start as being a doula, though. It started as a child hearing stories of birth that weren’t pretty. I’d honestly never heard a story of a birth that was beautiful until I was 12.
Now many of you may think, “12 years old isn’t an old age to hear a birth story, much less a beautiful one.” Let me tell you at that age, I’d already heard more than 30 birth stories. I’d heard the stories of my mother (mom of 6), her sisters (moms of 3-7 kids each), and Mom’s several friends (2-6 kids each). And only one that had something to share that wasn’t scary, life-threatening, and/or fearful.
When I witnessed a birth of a mother calling the shots, deciding where her birth will happen, who will be there, and how things will unfold, I knew that birth didn’t have to be scary. This is when I decided to assist parents in birthing in their power.
I’d been in situations, with myself as the birther, where I’d hoped for a birth that reflected the one I’d witnessed at the age of 12, but things didn’t go ideally, and I’d learned (the first time, the hard way) that making decisions for birth at the last moment can be an uphill battle. (Thankfully, I had an advocate for the birth of my baby who reiterated what I’d said, and the staff listened to her!) Hoping to be a midwife, I attended nursing school, hoping to become a CNM (certified nurse midwife), and soon discovered that medical training was FAR behind what evidence-based training said. Too many nurses were set in their ways, and so few believed in the birther to make decisions that I quickly realized that fighting against the system wasn’t healthy for my long-term goal of midwifery.
After seeing that even when things didn’t go as hoped, the birther could make these decisions for their body and their unborn, with or without having to fight against someone who didn’t believe in their ability to know what was best, I knew what my role was. I taught myself something in what I’d been through, but it also took hearing it again from my midwife, while I was pregnant with my third child, that it’s actually what describes a birth doula. It takes preparation and passion to make a difference in birth outcomes.