In an effort to promote all of the amazing doulas out there doing this great work, I’m going to start posting profiles of Radical Doulas. I hope you enjoy meeting these doulas! If you have suggestions for doulas you think I should profile, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Radical Doula: What inspired you to become a Doula?
Anne: In order to tell you how I became a Doula, I first have to explain how I became a mother.
In 2002, I was working as a paralegal when I became pregnant. I had a fairly easy pregnancy except for some morning sickness that was startlingly regular. My mother flew in from Los Angeles on the first day of my maternity leave. I was a bit frustrated that she chose to come so early, thinking I was going to have to entertain her for weeks. That night we sat down for dinner and my water broke. Later on she told me she had a dream that she would miss the birth if she came on time, so she flew up early. What can I say? Mother intuition is a powerful thing.
True to what I had been taught in my childbirth education class, I called my OBGYN, who ordered me to the hospital. What followed was a classic medically managed birth. It started with Pitocin upon admission, followed by narcotics, followed by epidural, and ended in a cesarean section 24 hours later. Unfortunately for me, what had been a benign heart murmur for most of life nearly killed me during the surgery and led to an extended stay in the hospital. The worst part was when I was told I couldn’t breast feed because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong, so they had me on heavy blood thinning drugs. On the third day of my hospital stay I sat in a chair weeping when a woman I had never met opened the door. “Why are you crying?” she asked. I told her that nothing had gone as planned and now I couldn’t even breastfeed. I was such a failure at birth. She frowned and said, “I’ll be right back.” She returned 2 minutes later with a breast pump and spent the next hour talking to me about my birth, showing me how to “pump and dump” and generally telling me I wasn’t a bad person. I will never forget her kindness.
Four years later, I found myself in Eugene, Oregon hoping I could repay that kindness by serving others as a Doula.
RD: How do you run your Doula practice?
Anne: Well, other than the money aspect, I suppose I run my practice like everyone else does. Two pre-natal visits, attendance at the birth, and one to two postpartum visits. Also, for my bigger clients (I hate the term obese and never use it to refer to my clients), I like to schedule a weekly visit for the last month to help them tidy the house and just to talk about the additional issues they may face during a hospital birth (size discrimination, lack of facilities/equipment, etc…). On the financial side, because I still work 2 days a week as a paralegal, I’m able to offer the sliding scale services, which is not always a possibility for a Doula trying to make it on her own.
RD: What is your favorite thing about being a Doula?
Anne: Of course, I love babies (who doesn’t?) but the thing I love most is seeing a new mother’s face when her baby is in her arms. No matter how that child was born, or how long it takes to get that connection, when she looks down and really sees her baby, this creature that she created, the love just radiates out from her.