I began my journey into the world of becoming a doula a few years ago through a combination of events that led me to realize my calling to help birthing women feel seen, known, and heard.
The first event was while I was volunteering as a Client Advocate at a local crisis pregnancy center. I counseled so many women who were overwhelmed and scared, and most relevant to my doula journey, had virtually no support system. One mama in particular will forever stand out to me. When asked, “How can we help support you? What do you need right now?”, she burst into tears and sobbed harder than I’ve ever seen. She explained that she had no support system; nearly every person in her life was either deceased, incarcerated or ill. She said that to have someone like us – listening to her, caring for her, helping her – was something she hadn’t had in a long time.
As I continued in my time at the pregnancy center, I began to realize how little I knew about pregnancy, birth, fetal development, prenatal health, etc. Many of our clients didn’t know much either and would ask questions that I never felt quite capable to answer. I wanted to learn more – to be better able to counsel and prepare these mamas so they could face this next phase of life with peace of mind and confidence (something I repeatedly saw was difficult when lacking the proper support and education).
Another thing that encouraged me toward the path of becoming a doula was having many conversations with a close friend who is also a doula. Curled up on her couch with a cup of tea, we would talk about her experience as a doula, her own birth stories, the shortcomings of current maternal care, and the inherent wisdom and strength of a mother.
Through these conversations, my time at the pregnancy center, and being able to attend one of my friend’s homebirths, I was able to experience hands-on how beautiful the design of pregnancy and birth is (and also how much support, education, and hope many women need during this transformational time).
I began to realize that not only did I want to learn more about pregnancy and birth in general, but I also wanted to be able to support women through this transformational (and vulnerable) time. To help them have options. To help them birth with dignity. To help them feel respected and heard in their birthing decisions. To give them support and education. To empower them during such a special, transformative time and hopefully have positive birth experiences and outcomes.
As I continue my journey to become a certified doula, I plan to continue the work I do with Nurture. But also, one day, I hope to start a non-profit doula program that will partner with local crisis pregnancy centers for referrals – hopefully improving the birth experiences, outcomes, and maternal mortality rates for women in our community. And providing every woman, no matter her socioeconomic status, the support she deserves through her pregnancy and birth so she doesn’t have to face the journey alone.
Every time I am invited to step into a woman’s birthing space to support her, or I am able to simply sit with a mama in the post-partum time (whether in silence or by speaking encouraging, empowering words over her) – it is an honor and very humbling. And I gratefully realize again every time, “This is something I’m truly called to do.”
I’m excited to see where this journey of becoming a doula will take me.