Thank you for Doulaing Her… My 5 Right Reasons for Becoming a Certified Doula
Any time you make a life decision as huge as a career change, there are so many things to consider before making the leap. And oh so many questions to ask! At 50 years old and well-established in my current life, believe me, I had a lot of questions bumping around in my brain. Mostly ones that sounded like “am I crazy?” and “how hard is this doula certification process anyway?” and “is creating a thriving doula practice something I really want to do?”
I mean, I had a job I loved at a local non-profit women’s shelter for pregnant women. I lived on-site and the day to day activities included taking moms to their doctor appointments, celebrating their gender reveals, giving them small piles of maternity clothes to fit their swelling bellies, cooking with them, talking with them, listening to them, and so much more!
Several of them invited me to be their labor coach and of course, I was thrilled to accept such a trusted position in a woman’s life. All of them leaned on me in the early weeks postpartum. I answered questions like “should his belly button look like this?” and “how often should I bathe her?” and “hey is this spit-up or throw-up?”
Twenty-four hours a day, 5 days a week, living with moms 6 weeks to 42 weeks pregnant and postpartum moms with babies up to 1 year old. Talk about being a doula of life! And so many of the mommas asked me if I was a birth doula in my life prior to living with them.
When I said no, the cries of “Why???” and “You should be a doula!!” echoed in my mind for quite a while. It sounded dreamy and romantic. But living with my shelter mommas taught me the truth: doula work is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually demanding. I had to be sure certification and business-building was a right fit for me. And honestly, I kept putting off the decision...
Until one day, this happened:
One of my mommas went into labor and after a few hours of contractions she called her doula, Grace. Grace came over to the house and I got to watch her in action. I saw her confidence, listened to her comforting words, marveled at the different positions she suggested and the breathing technique she used. This momma was 110% committed to having a completely natural birth, and Grace was here to help her through. Honestly, thank God! I hadn’t yet supported a momma as committed to natural birth as this one. Grace was sent from heaven.
A few hours later, we set off for the hospital. Grace and momma did lots and lots of walking. Lots of breathing. Lots of counter-pressure. I watched Grace. I learned. And I helped momma too. Grace welcomed me in! She felt like a wise partner and friend. I watched Grace interact with the nurses. Wow! She got momma in the shower and then later, into the tub.
Wow! And I was there, doing it too.
Then, labor shifted and contractions kept coming, and coming, and coming. We were breathing with her during, and fanning her with magazines in-between. After many long hours of this, progress slowed. Hard contractions, but hovering at 7cm for hours…
Momma was nearing exhaustion. And still, 110% committed to natural birth. She cried during contractions, was losing her rhythm, was feeling defeated. I remember I put my face very close to hers, placed my hands on her arms and said softly “look at me...look at me baby girl...you can do this...WE are doing this next contraction together. Just me and you. We only have to get through this one…”
And for the next many hours, this is what I did: I said those words before every contraction. I looked into her eyes. I held her with my gaze. I breathed loud and low, just like her. I told her how great she was doing, how proud I was of her, and reminded her that soon she would be holding her precious baby in her arms.
And then, 10cm!
And then, 4 hours of pushing. All 100% natural.
And then, oh baby! We had a baby!!! With one tiny unplanned glitch...a cesarean birth. Life has so many twists and turns...
And then THIS happened:
The following day, the OB came in to see momma and told her she was a champ, super amazing and could not have done it better in any way. He knew how hard she worked and how much she wanted a natural birth.
Then, he took me aside and said, “thank you for doulaing her.”
Wow. I guess that’s what I did. It didn’t really sink in until that very moment. Now, his words to me are the loudest echo of all...
Fast forward to today. A full year has passed. I celebrated my 50th birthday, traveled the country for 10 months, and mindfully sat with the the idea of becoming a doula. I thought about the reasons I wanted to be a doula in my very own doula practice, and I made some pretty wonderful decisions! I’m proud to share with you that I’m in the process of getting certified as a doula through DONA International. I’ve started my business and absolutely love working with my clients!
As I thought about what to share in my very first doula blog, I felt pulled to tell this story and to share my 5 RIGHT reasons for becoming a certified doula with a thriving doula practice. And here they are:
1. I want to be completely and fully my best self in my work and in my personal life.
2. I want to love, care for and support women through pregnancy, birth and postpartum.
3. I want to learn, grow and stretch beyond what I am, always.
4. I want my clients to become part of my personal community for many years to come.
5. I want to feel good about what I do.
It’s good to live my doula life for all my right reasons. It’s good to be here. And it’s so good to meet you. Welcome in!