Sunday, April 3, 2016

Witnessing a New Family Forming: My Changed Perspective on Birth and Doula Work

I became a doula after personally witnessing the misogyny of birth and how it affects women and their new babies. I came into this role hoping to empower women and improve the outcome of their births so that they could have a better start and relationship with their new baby. But in this quest I was leaving out one very important piece: the partner. Without them, the family is not complete.

Birth is not just about the mom and baby. Birth is about the new family that is being formed. After attending a rebozo workshop with Gena Kirby, my whole perspective on doula work has changed. I realize I must step back and provide the means for the father to support the mother and in turn help facilitate a better pregnancy, birth, and postpartum period for all.

I admit, my weak point was involving the partner. As women, we love to mother, we love to nurture. I selfishly wanted to be that person that the mother turned to when she needed comfort and reassurance. There is a certain high I got by feeling needed. But Gena's workshop made me realize that I can never replace the partner. The bond between the partner and mother is what conceived the baby and what is needed to bring the baby into the world. I came to realize, I do not want my clients to think that they cannot birth without me. I want them to realize that they were grateful I was there but that I was just a catalyst for something that already existed within them. I simply showed them how to deepen their relationship so that they could do what is instinct to birth their baby together.

I am excited to bring this new knowledge to my clients. I want them to know I value the partner and their irreplaceable role during the whole process. I will now use time during the prenatal visits to share with couples ways in which they can bond during pregnancy that can be brought into the birth space. By engaging in these relaxation techniques throughout pregnancy, the intimacy and stress relief can be easily transferred to labor and birth. This ensures that labor and birth is not just something the mother experiences but one that the partner is an necessary part of.

I am humbled to be a birth worker. I am humbled to be invited to witness such a powerful moment in a family's life. And I am humbled to have met Gena. She opened my eyes to what birth can be, an extension of love between two people that extends far beyond the birth space. I am truly blessed to be a doula.

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