That’s my new official title.
I’ve written before about my process to become a doula – it started while I was in labour with Lucy and listening to the other women in the hospital give birth without support. I started the process by doing most of the required readings, and reading about pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and brand spanking newborns fueled the fire. In May 2011 I took my DONA Birth Doula workshop and started looking around for mamas to work with, since I had to have three qualifying births and it often takes quite a few to get them all signed. I had to cancel Lucy’s second birthday party to attend my first birth – I’m sure that there will be many more milestones that I’ll have to miss as long as I’m working with birth. That’s the nature of the work. I learned very quickly how hard it can be to work in such an emotionally-charged area, especially with my own young family. I’ve had to decompress and cry after every birth, and I’ve learned invaluable things about women, myself, and people in general. I have seen how strongly childbirth impacts people – obviously the women themselves, but the people around them are also heavily influenced. Birth stories are one of the few places where we have retained an oral culture (look at me mixing my English degree with my doula training), and I make a habit of allowing people the space to tell me their stories whenever I can. Sometimes, when given the opportunity, it’s like a compulsion to get the words out to someone who understands what they’re talking about.
This spring I finished up my childbirth education course and my breastfeeding course, then wrote up all my paperwork and sent it in. I did a phone interview a few weeks ago, and last night I got the call from the DONA certification committee that I’m a certified birth doula.
Of course, now I have another baby coming so I’ll need to take another break. I’m thinking about where to take my birth work next – I’ve thought seriously about midwifery, but it’s a very demanding program and it’s an understatement to say that it would be a challenge to add it to my life in the next little while. I want to do more training in breastfeeding support, possibly becoming an international board certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) because we definitely need more of those. I’m also thinking a lot about the big picture – I love being able to make a difference to individual women and I will continue to do so, but I also believe that the culture around childbirth and motherhood has a lot of flaws that need addressing for the health of society as a whole, and I’m not sure how best to dip my toe into those waters.
I’m thrilled to have completed my initial certification. It feels like I’ve made it to a major milestone. And there is no way that this is the end of the road for my birth education and the expansion of my knowledge and (hopefully) influence. There is more to come – I am too passionate to let this sit.
And of course, if you need a birth doula or just someone to talk about birth and babies with, I’m your woman.