As doulas everywhere are navigating a new way of support during this COVID 19 pandemic, it just so happens to be World Doula Week. I am hearing about doulas not allowed in hospitals, and MotherBaby being separated, and a rise in inductions which often leads to cesarean section.
The truth is that all of these interventions are harmful. We have such limited data about pregnancy and COVID 19. My heart is heavy. I can feel the collective tears and sadness.
What is the appropriate response to all of this? As I thought about this when I went to bed last night, I was reminded of the Doula Oath. I first read this in the early 1990s. The author, as far as I know, is anonymous. It seems appropriate to share this, for the doulas that need a reminder, and for the doulas who may not have seen this before.
I believe that we can all be the light, and bring hope, and calm to the current situation. We can do this whether we are physically connected or not. Our collective doula conscious is powerful when we come together.
Doulas everywhere are courageous, and are an example of love and selflessness. It is also okay if you are a doula and you need to practice self-care, or take care of your own children and family.
The direct translation of the greek word doula is “of service” or “servant.” This term was originally coined by anthropologist Dana Rafael in the 1970’s in her book The Tender Gift. This book extolled the benefits of woman to woman support after birth, particularly with breastfeeding and recovery.
Over the years the role of the doula has expanded. In fact, the birth doula, who attend to a woman during labor and birth, is more well-known than the postpartum doula, who serves the woman and her family after birth. Both roles are equally valuable.
What Does a Doula do?
Birth doulas provide information and support during pregnancy, and labor and birth. Below is a general list of what they do. Each birth, each woman, and each family is individual, so needs will vary.
Many doulas offer other services, such as placenta encapsulation, childbirth education, and lactation services.
Doulas providegreat support and comfort. Studies show the increase in vaginal birth, the lower rates of cesarean-section, and increased confidence in mothering when women have the support of a birth doula. For more about the postpartum doula check out this blog post.
What happens when the birth that was envisioned, and all the practicing of comfort measures, and information provided does not create the desired birth outcome? What happens when a woman who wanted a natural birth has an epidural, and a long drawn out vaginal birth with much intervention, or a cesarean-section?
Sharing my knowledge and wisdom about all things birth