If my path towards my purpose had a guide, her name would be Care. If I was to describe my choice to follow this calling, I would do so with the word Alignment. For me, this business o fbeing a Doula is m personal practice of care, it is my labour of love and my heart work. When learning from Lesley Everest during Mother Wit's postpartum training, she spoke of Doulas being a "healing balm" and said this work is, "sacred activism"... this is how I continue to think of my role and this calling.
My interest and attention has always been grasped by people moving through transformative human experiences. Beginning in my childhood, I was fascinated by people becoming pregnant, giving birth and then transitioning into parenthood. Witnessing this, as little Alana, I thought "WOW" and I also thought, "how can I help?". As a little one, I always wanted to hold babies but I also wanted to "hold" their mothers too. Recently, I spoke to a psychic, she said to me, "what are you doing now for work is what you have done for several lifetimes before this one." Taking this into account, it would make sense that even with I was relatively new to this life, I already felt so comfortable in the world of birth, like I had been there before!
That being said, my first initiation into working in the field of care was as a social worker. My social work knowledge and experiences have laid a loving, strong and fiesty foundation to my Doula care. The world of social work has taught me how to work alongside folks as they navigate life experiences, how to communicate honestly and consciously, how to share meaningful information, to advocate, to connect clearly and kindly, to hold safe space and how to be comfortable with the 'uncomfortable'. Social work grew into Doula care and I am curious as to how Doula care will continue to grow and expand... bon courage!
With gratitude, I can say that being a Doula is natural and "known" to my mindbody. When taking Jessica Austin and Gloria Lemay's Wise Women Way of Birth Doula training, I felt I was being nourished by the information that I had always longed to hear. Jessica and Gloria's teachings resonated with me as the capital T, Truth.
But oh! This learning is continuous and so rich, layer after layer peels off, with everyday and in every way. As this work is supporting a human experience, the growth is endless. But as I keep exploring what being a Doula looks like for me, and how I wish to contribute to this community, there are a few things that I am becoming quite sure of. In sharing my learnings, I am reminding myself of what I believe to be true, holding myself accountable and hopefully, for any eyes readings this... sharing information to personally reflect upon!
These are some things I know so far:
A Doula's support can be helpful in every aspect of the "birth spectrum"; that is, pregnancy, end of pregnancy, fertility, abortion, birth, postpartum, miscarriage - every shade of this spectrum deserves human to human care.
Doula care is often not accessible/known about/affordable/approachable to the folks who require safe support the most and this is not okay. Doulas with privilege, capacity and resources (like myself) need to be organizing their offerings to help address this systemic issue and not simply, perpetuation it. One can aid in disseminating systems of power through cultivating a community of care so, being active and curious about how to do that is what's right.
The experiences of birth, death/grief and sex are connected and we can look at each of these peak life experiences for information and knowledge about the practices, rituals and support that may help us move through them in a supported way. Healing is not linear it moves in a shapeshifting spiral.
Understanding trauma-informed care and having awareness of mental health experiences/resources are super important when being a Doula. Talking about the stigmatized aspects of this field to one's community/friends/family/etc also a good things to do.
I am learning that it is really important for Doulas to take care of themselves and tend to their personal emotional/mental/physical/spiritual needs first, before sharing their care with others. We have to Doula ourselves too (cup of tea, sit with ourselves, unpack, nourish, tether.)
Being a Doula is working with your heart, your mind, your hands and your full spirit. Having strong mentorship is pretty key for me.
People who are either about to give birth or who have just given birth are 100% psychic so, you can't be full of shit when you're sitting with them or supporting them. As my Dad would say, "it's okay to be you!" so, just be you... your authentic self... you're so MUCH more than enough (who doesn't need this gentle reminder!).
Thank you for reading along! Commitment to community care is something I feel passionate about. Continuing to learn and critically reflect about my participation in the world of birth is also very important to me. I'm grateful to be a part of this community and to be invited into the full spectrum of folk's experiences. I feel very at home with Bunky and so supported by Emma and this circle of birth workers. As the mama Doulas, Erica and Laura, of Birdsong Brooklyn say "let's tether together".
Major love! Your neighbourhood Doula, Alana
All photos by Jane Voytcheff http://www.janevoytcheff.com/
A deeper dive with Emma (owner, birth & postpartum Doula) into social media and our posts. What makes the backbone of Bunky Bambino, filled with tips & tricks, reflections on the birth / postpartum world, and knowledge we think is worth sharing with you all.