Saturday, February 21, 2009

Doula Surround- a Doula's View

Doula Surround- A Doula's View

By: Kelly Kravitz, CD

I am a birth Doula.

As I sit in the park, watching my six-year-old son play, I converse with the mom doing the same next to me. Then the subject comes up “What do you do?” I say, “I am a Doula”. I hear the usual response: “A what?” Then she says, “Like a midwife right?”

I smile; thrilled that she knows it has something to do with childbirth.

But no, “I’m not like a midwife”, I explain. I do not do anything medical. I am The Nurturer; The Guardian of the Birth Experience.

They smile with puzzled looks on their faces. I explain:

My purpose is to be there for the mother, to help her carry out her plans for birth, hold her hand when she cries, keep the rice packs warmed & on her back, if needed with each contraction, put cool cloths on her neck & forehead, wipe the sweat from her brow, massage her back when it aches, squeeze her hips to relieve the pressure, help her to change positions to get things moving, remind her to use the bathroom every hour and help her to get there, offer ice, water, and lip balm, walk the halls with her, turn on the music that helps her relax, remind her to breathe, remind her to picture the baby moving down the birth canal, remind her that she is strong, tell her she CAN when she thinks she can’t, and always tell her how great she is doing. AND, never forgetting what a powerful, yet fragile time this is and strive to protect that memory for her by keeping it a positive one.

I am there for her partner, too … to give him suggestions, pat him on the back and tell him that it really IS okay. I bring him food when he needs to eat, coffee when he needs a pick-me-up and a chair when he needs to sit. I offer suggestions he can do that will make his partner the most pleased, so that HE looks like the perfect picture of support to her. Most of all, I am NEVER there to take his place or get in the way of the couple’s special day.

We work as a team to care for the women he loves. I give them space if needed. I am always aware of glances, moments that are to be protected. I will take a shot with the camera so they can remember the intensity, the focus, the love.

In other words, I do anything and everything that I can to help her cope with her labor and make it an empowering, memorable experience. When she pushes; I am whispering to her how great she is doing, holding her leg, if needed & making eye contact so she is reassured that all is well.

When the baby is born and placed on her tummy, I smile and shed a tear or two, and tell her again what a great effort she has accomplished.

When the nurse checks the baby and dad runs over to see how beautiful this new baby is, I stay by the mother’s side and hold her hand so she knows she is not alone. I let her know how amazing she is.
I am there when she feeds her baby for the first time and reassure her that she is doing well. And when the family is all snuggled in close, loving each other, I take a few shots with the camera and then I quietly slip out the door.

I often wonder as I drive home from a birth:

Do these women realize how much they touch my life? I am truly blessed after each birth. I feel a renewed sense of life, I see my children as the precious gifts that they are, and I hold my husband a little closer. I go for weeks on the "high" of attending yet another birth of a loved child.

Being a doula is not a job to me, it is my passion, it was a “calling”.

I feel very deeply for the women I give care to, and I never forget them or the day they brought their precious babies into the world. I document their day with a birth log that I share with them keep copy for myself & look at from time to time, usually around the baby's first birthday.
After the postpartum visit to see the baby, hold the baby & review the birth, if the mother wishes to do so, I may or may not EVER see the family again. It varies greatly.
Whether they feel anything similar differs from woman to woman, but each birth is an empowering experience TO ME and I thank each and every family that I attend to, for the opportunity to share such a wonderful, intimate time in their lives.

Kelly K, CD (CBI)

inspired by another birth doula, to write my own view