You may have guessed from reading my blog that I am passionate about [natural] birth, but more importantly about women having empowering births through informed choice and proper support. I know now from my own experience, that it is imperative for a mother to build positive and loving community around herself before the birth of her child. Ideally, through this community the mother will have continued support during and after the birth, and additionally throughout her journey as a mother. The doula can enhance or be a part of this community of support for the expectant mother and her family. With this in mind, I decided to take the two-day DONA birth doula workshop in order to educate myself further.
The work of a doula is an important way to support the mother, baby and family during birth. One of the founders of DONA, Penny Simkin, writes in her book The Birth partner “…How a woman gives birth matters-to her baby, her family (including her relationship with her partner), and to her self-confidence and self-esteem as a woman and a mother.” (page xi). The birth doula helps reinforce a positive birth experience, through guidance and emotional support. In our often times fragmented and transient western society, the doula’s role can help bridge gaps that would normally have been filled by mothers and sisters in the past. Further to this, a doula can help educate before the birth, which in turn can help facilitate healthier outcomes for the mother and baby. All of these things can contribute to a woman feeling empowered, and confident in her abilities and self as she navigates her new role as a mother.
One week after the DONA workshop, I am still processing those incredible two days of instruction and story taught by two very wise doulas. Birth is intimate and sacred. Being invited to help a woman through this intense and beautiful process is an incredible honour. It is easy to get overwhelmed with all there is to learn, but as our instructors gently reminded us, it is our heart (a willingness to serve) at the centre of our call to be a doula, which matters most.