Becoming A Birth Doula

Do you know this feeling ? One day you play with an idea but abandon it due to obstacles that seem insurmountable at that time. Then at a different time, you suddenly find yourself pursuing this exact idea or a different version of it ? This is what’s happening to me right now. There was a moment when I felt the urge to become a midwife but I did not pursue this idea and decided to study international communications, something completely different, but which I enjoyed very much as well ! Now, ten years later I find myself in Panama, enrolled in a course to become a birth doula. Though birth doula and midwife are not the same professions, both are part of a cause that I am really passionate about: women’s health and ultimately the empowerment of women (because yeah, there is still a lot that can be done in this field)!

I was “hooked”

After my first pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience, I realised that I was hooked as I continued to find all things regarding pregnancy and birth fascinating. Then, during my second pregnancy – I was playing with an idea for a project that focused on postpartum healing of new mothers – I signed up to a workshop led by a traditional Mexican midwife, Angelina Martina Mirandez. After spending a weekend with an extremely interesting group of women – all birth workers such as midwifes, doulas, maternity nurses, birth advocates, massage therapists – my interest had definitely reached a new level and brought back the wish to work in this field, too.

Then came our move to Panama which I took as a sign and the ultimate opportunity to switch careers. That said, changing careers was a big step and a process that took time (I’ll write more about motherhood and changing careers in another post), especially while adjusting to our new life as a family of four on the other side of the world…but I am ready now! My brain is ready for new ideas, knowledge of unknown fields and creativity! I am thrilled and excited to have entered this new path but most of all I am grateful that life keeps surprising me, over and over again! Sometimes it’s just not the right moment, but then it comes back at you later in life and you realize that it all makes sense and fits perfectly together!

What is a doula ?

The word doula does come from the Greek language and means “servant or caregiver”. There are different types of doulas, such as  postpartum doulas, menopause doulas as well as death doulas, all focusing on various parts in women’s and people’s lives when support is needed to make this path, this transition more comfortable.

In the context of birth, a doula supports a woman (and her partner) through her pregnancy, labor and as well as the first few days after her birth. This can be emotional but also physical support. Moreover, a doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging her in her goals and helping her to get knowledge about all her options in order to make informed choices and eventually experience the birth she wishes for (which of course can be an un-medicated or medicated/cesarean birth).

Especially the latter is something that I feel is of big importance in our society. There is so much information out there when it comes to pregnancy and birth and unfortunately, a lot of it is biased. Moreover, I often hear that women are not given all the information and options in order to make informed choices and experience the birth they wish for; especially when it comes to births that are planned to take place in hospitals. That said, birth is the time when women are the most vulnerable, as they need to surrender to the sensations of their contractions and let their body open up in order to bring their babies to the world. In exactly this time, I find it even more important to treat women with kindness and respect; something that is lacking – of course not always as there are great birth professionals and maternity wards out there –  but still too often (I refer here to the more traumatic and sad birth stories that I am currently reading and collecting from friends). This is why I’d like to be part of this and support women during this incredible life-marking event. Women will always remember the birth of their child(ren) and those memories don’t have to be sad or traumatic. They really don’t have to be.

Finding the right course

So when all this came into pieces,  I signed up with Childbirth International, an US based organisation that offers online courses in all fields around birth. This seemed to me the best fit because of two points. On the one hand, after crosschecking with several birth workers from various places in the world, I know that CBI is a group that offers programs that are very thourough and whose certifications are recognised worldwide in the birth community. On the other hand, with not knowing how long we will be in Panama, I figured out that an online course without time limitation would be the best fit for me and so far I am really glad about it. Of course, I will participate in workshops and do on-the-ground work here in Panama, which by the way is also required by my study program. However, starting with an online course that allows me to study at my own pace felt right to me, given that I am also taking care of our two kids who are still pretty small and hence, need a lot of attention.

So  ? 

Obviously, my main focus is now to work on my long reading list, complete my assignments and get on-the-ground experience. That said, the more I study the more I get excited about this whole field and I will for sure continue to share my doula journey here with you, combined with stories about motherhood and beyond and of course snippets from our travel trips. So at the end, there won’t be big changes but only more passion about what I am doing and what I get the chance to explore.

I really am looking forward to it… and I hope, you do too 😉

Note

By the time I started to write this post and finally finished it, I had already had the chance to support a lovely Panamanian woman during the birth of her first child. It was a beautiful home birth in the water, an incredible experience that showed me again how amazingly well the female body is designed and how strong women are. I cannot wait to continue on this path!

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