It’s difficult to succinctly describe the experience of being a doula when people ask me what it’s like. When I get still and really think about it carefully before responding though, a few words do come to mind: Intense. Quiet. Magnificent. Overwhelming. Primal. Beautiful. Raw. Calm.
There are so many different moments that have left indelible impressions on me, while others were fleeting and gone. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
- Each birth is unique and can teach me so much in various ways. There’s always something to learn and something I can add to my toolbox for next time.
- Birth workers, whether they be nurses, midwives, doctors, residents, etc. are amazing people. The level of compassion and humanity they bring into their work is a gift to witness and another part of what makes this occupation so special.
- Self-care is hugely important. Restoring myself post-birth is a necessary piece to the puzzle of making this work sustainable.
- The amazing power of a woman in labor cannot be over exaggerated: when she gets quiet and turns inward there is nothing quite as ferocious and placid, all at the same time. She’s a thing of beauty, allowing her body’s primal instincts to take over while she surrenders to the work at hand.
- Bearing witness to this intense experience is an emotional symphony. So many emotions can be wrapped up in one birth – excitement, disappointment, joy, fear, exhaustion, surprise, exhilaration, bliss. It can change from moment to moment.
Here’s what I’ve been challenging myself with in this work:
- Remaining present, centered and calm in the moment.
- Being a quiet companion on the journey, absorbing the energy of the room delicately and stepping in at the appropriate moments, offering suggestions at the right time, never trying to control the process.
- Watching things unfold in their own time and exercising radical patience. It’s a practice that isn’t simple to adhere to, but ever so necessary.
I’m excited to continue serving the needs of families. It’s an honor to do this work although it can sometimes be physically and emotionally draining, it’s also the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.