As I watched The Business of Being Born, I was briefly introduced to a doula. Originating from ancient Greek, doula means “woman’s servant”, and this person’s role is to provide emotional and physical support and advocacy for a woman in labor. In the film, the New York couple who used a doula in their birth appeared to be the pseudo-granola, yuppie types. Since the doula is not a midwife, or nurse, she does not make medical decisions during the birth process. She is simply present for assistance to the birthing mother, a sort of labor attendant. I scoffed. Only high maintenance, coastal women would need a doctor or midwife and a doula. Goodness.
I proceeded to dive into the natural birth process with abandon. There would not be any needles, drugs or gut-slicing (graphic, I know) in my child’s birth as long as I have a say in it. I bought Childbirth without Fear, after my friend’s recommendation, and enrolled in an online class on natural childbirth. The third session of the class re-introduced me to a doula. I skimmed the material half-heartedly. I wouldn’t need this information.
After much searching for local midwives, I was disappointed to discover there were none to be found. I wondered who would fully support my desire – and grand efforts – to have a natural birth, if my doctor was only partially on the wagon. I talked with a woman at church who had attempted natural birth with her first child, but due to complications, required a Cesarean. She told me she used a doula during her birth, and rattled off a name or two. Talking to a real, live mother, I heard the word “doula” differently this time. The doula she named was here in town, a Christian, which was important to me, and someone this woman trusted. I got her information and contacted her that evening. I browsed her blog and pored over her website, learned everything I could about her. And I surprised myself. I fell in love. Or deep appreciation, perhaps.
I realized that a doula can give be there to give me what I’ve been trying to extract from my poor husband this whole time: real empathy, compassion, competence, advocacy for the birth process I want, ensuring I’m always informed. She can even help me be comfortable – as much as possible – and give Josh guidance on how to help. Best of all, this is her job. I won’t be forced to rely on some unwitting family member or friend to provide these services. We will all be free to gracefully glide through birth – yes, I know this is optimistic – and enjoy the baby when he is born. What a gift!
I’m planning to meet with the woman I hope will be my doula in a couple weeks. Is it weird to say that I like her already? Well, I do. Here’s to a change of heart.