I will never forget being present for my sister’s first birth back in 2010. I had graduated college just one year prior and was in that funky place where I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life. Part of my plan was to apply to medical school, so attending a birth was something I thought would be great on my application. My sister, her husband, their care provider, my mother, and I were all present in the birthing room. It’s an experience I will never forget and one that I have taken with me on my current adventure as a birth doula.
I am passionate about birth. It inspires me. It intrigues me. I can’t get enough. It is in my deep passion to work with birth professionals (midwives, OB/GYN’s, family practice M.D.s) in a collaborative way. I completed my DONA-Approved Doula Training at Blooma this past November and fell even more in love with birth. The training covered all things doula including how to serve each mother, certification, and building a new doula business, creating partnerships, finding internships, and more. The training was engaging and hands-on. We rehearsed several different birth scenarios and discussed how to support expectant families in each of those scenarios. As a group, we practiced comfort measures on each other and discussed ways we could provide safe, trusting support to mamas throughout labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum experience.
I have always been a doula at heart and I am certain a lot of you might feel the same. It’s in my blood to support others. To help them see their light, their strengths, their brightness. To remind them that everything will be okay. To just simply be there. Have you held your friends hand when she had to make a hard choice during her pregnancy? Did you lend an ear to listen when your sister needed to tell her birth story? Did your mother or aunt delegate duties for immediate family and friends to help assist in a smooth transition for you and your partner after your baby’s arrival? In a time when women are coming together to lift each other up, being a doula is a natural expression of support.
A birth doula is someone who provides continuous support to a woman throughout her labor and delivery. My work as a birth doula starts by encouraging families to educate themselves and make informed choices. For expecting moms, my role as a doula is to discuss birth preferences and be with mama as their birth journey unfolds. Sometimes birth is exactly what a mama has envisioned, often there are many twists along the way. During labor and birth I do not project any hopes or expectations, instead, it is all about the mother and her needs. I am there to provide the tools that will help expectant families feel safe and comfortable, and I encourage them to be advocates for themselves along the way.
Are you considering becoming a birth doula? From the start of this ‘doula adventure’ it has been crucial to surround myself with a support team. To those interested in becoming a doula here are a couple tips from the newbie.
- If you are considering this path, it’s for a reason. The world, a mother, a friend, a sister needs you. Find a training program that is the right fit for you and get yourself registered! Don’t let fear or doubt hold you back. (Take a look at upcoming Doula Trainings at Blooma)
- Find your doula tribe. This includes a crew of devotees that are your biggest cheerleaders; and honest, loyal, people who will keep you in check. I have several doula friends on speed dial. I know they are there to answer my questions while I’m in a birth, or to assist with advice in starting my business. I also have a couple mama friends who aren’t necessarily doulas, but are just as important. Network and meet with other doulas as much as you can. Share ideas. Make it full of community — not competition. Let’s be real, there are 1,000s of moms giving birth every day. We don’t need to compete with each other.
- Be very honest with your family. My husband knows I could get called to a birth at any moment. He respects the career I chose, acknowledges this, and is ready to step up and handle anything that comes up at home while I’m at work (and doesn’t complain when my cellphone goes off at 2am in the middle of the night).
- Self care: Make sure you are caring for yourself. Feel perfectly fine with saying no, and undoubtedly excited about saying yes — both when it feels right. Schedule a monthly massage. Clear your schedule the day after a birth to sleep, relax, walk, play, be.
Let's all be doulas for the powerful and inspiring women around us. Support motherhood, womanhood, sisterhood.
Learn more about Blooma’s DONA Approved Birth Doula Training. The next training will be led by Emily Shier and begins April 7th . It will include training for emotional support, physical comfort measures, natural labor & the impact of hormones, supporting women with pain medication, cesarean & vaginal birth after cesarean, working with Care Providers, supporting newborns & breastfeeding, postpartum client contact & support, Professional Doula Memberships, Certification Options, and more.
Written by Amy Peterson-Kelley, Doula, Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga Instructor, Kids, Toddler, & Byob Yoga Instructor. Wife, dog mom, sister, daughter, and auntie to 6 beautiful children! You can find me on Instagram as @amykelleydoula or visit my website at www.amynkelley.com