I Am Doula…
Doula-ing is probably something I have done my whole life. In primary school I remember being the person who supported my friends in times of need. I would let my own work slack and catch up later to support somebody else. I have always been the one with a house full of kids as my eldest daughter grew up, a safe haven for teenagers and children, and the adults who came with them. Doula meets have happened here often, meetings with like minded women and cake. Gatherings for workshops and training. My house is always open, as well as my heart.
Doula-ing is a way of life for me, and it seems to have taken me a while to realise this. Being a doula is akin to being that consistent support when somebody might want some continuity through a time in their life – being available always. A Doula can provide advocacy for one reason or another in times when words seem difficult or parents feel unheard. A doula can be a shoulder to cry on, in both joy and grief. Looking back, I have always fulfilled this role most of my life, being the person on the other end of the phone in a crisis or a shoulder to cry on when problems have crossed a friends path.
There is a clear distinction between providing support for friends and the support and advocacy we provide for families with our Doula hats adorned. Remaining impartial is an important skill alongside listening wholly to what is being said, and the things that aren’t.
Our own emotional investment in people who are personally close to us can often cloud our judgement when supporting friends or family, and I am not alone in saying that I find it difficult to remain impartial. Because of this I choose not to provide official Doula service to friends and family but I do signpost to information and support from afar if asked.
When supporting the families I get to know through my work as a Doula, I fully invest in their journey, and I am able to remain professional, calm and independent at each twist and turn. Parents build a set of birth preferences based upon their own risks and experiences. Throughout their journey they make key decisions based on fully informed consent for their own, specific to them pregnancy. I walk beside them as they navigate the NHS and might request relevant, additional information from caregivers if I see puzzled, questioning parents in antenatal appointments when pathways change without warning.
Doulas provide continuity, support, information, advocacy. Doulas are impartial, independent, professional. Doulas support all births, regardless of where or how or who with. Doulas work as volunteers and as NHS staff and as business owners. Doulas do not have their own agenda. Doulas are people, too. And they are impartial to tea and cake ?
I Am Doula.