There are several posts I’ve been meaning to write for the last week or so but didn’t manage any due to a particularly nasty virus that kept the little ones poorly and me very sleep deprived. As I pondered which one to write first this morning it seemed only right to finally write about my doula course as I’m currently immersed in the post course module AND it’s world doula week!
I’ve just finished a reflective piece about how the course impacted me and I thought rather than rehash it for the purposes of this post, I might as well just share it as I think it’ll give you the best feel of how I found the course and where I am on my journey now I’m on the other side and about to register with Doula UK as a mentored doula.
Taking part in the Nurturing Birth Doula training course was nothing short of an amazing experience. I found it incredibly eye opening and challenging whilst simultaneously empowering and just downright enjoyable to be able to spend some time fully engaged in something I feel passionate about without small people interrupting!
The biggest challenge for me personally was realising that the ‘ideal’ birth isn’t a home water birth surrounded by candles and gentle music but that that ‘ideal’ will change depending on every mother to be. Although on the surface I already knew this, it was really reinforced by the course. The right birth is different for every woman and the most important thing is that a mother is able to make informed choices and be in charge of her own birth. This seems really obvious in retrospect but I think I approached the course with a large bias towards the natural birth movement. Although there is nothing wrong with this in itself, I realised that the clients I encounter may have other ideas about what they want from their birth and my job isn’t to try and change their minds but support them in their choices.
This leads on to another realisation and change in belief that I had; that being or having a doula is much more mainstream than I previously thought. After being teased for being the hippy I realised that doula’s are not restricted to the organic eating, home educating, lotus birthing crowd but that they are and should be available to any mother. This was really refreshing and made me really excited to think that having a doula is something available to all and not just a select few.
I felt challenged to focus on my listening skills and when we spoke about being silent as a doula although the concept of silence was slightly foreign(!), it was reassuring to remember that actually, it will often be our physical presence that a client needs rather than any number of things we can say or do. It also took me back to my peer support course in remembering that we are not there to give advice but to provide information where wanted and above all, to offer support. Similarly, I felt encouraged that I don’t need to have a draw or to offer a list of services (homeopathy, massage..etc) in order to attract clients. I had felt slightly unconfident in my ‘credentials’ but now feel completely well equipped to be able to work as a doula and to support women through the most exciting and potentially turbulent time in their lives.
Finally, the course made me realise that my feelings of slight disappointment at Sophia’s birth are valid, I’d felt that I shouldn’t feel any negativity towards it as it was a natural birth but now I feel that I wasn’t as informed as I should or could have been and it’s ok to view it with a mixture of good and bad feelings. I don’t view my experiences of breastfeeding any differently but it did reinforce my realisation that I should have been humble enough to seek out support when things weren’t ‘right’ with Isaac’s feeding. I no longer feel guilty about his missed tongue tie but have put those feelings to rest as something that is done and cannot be changed.
To conclude, the course was brilliant in throwing out my preconceptions of who might hire a doula or what they might want from a doula and in reinforcing that above all, our role is to provide unconditional emotional and practical support through a woman’s pregnancy and birth in whatever form they need it.