Sunday, September 2, 2012
I'm going to be a doula! But you already knew that, because you read it in our first blog post, right? Well maybe you forgot. Anyhow, it's now official and I have started the process. For those of you who don't know what a doula is click here for the wiki-quicky (see what I did there?). Basically, a doula is non-medical birth assistant whose role is to support the mother before, during, and immediately after childbirth. A doula usually meets with the mother (and birth partner) several times during the pregnancy so everyone can get to know each other and develop a trusting relationship. The doula can offer basic information concerning pregnancy and childbirth as well as direct the mother to more complete resources. A doula can help an expectant mother develop a birth plan and prepare for childbirth and be sure the mother's wishes are followed during the birth.When the woman goes into labor, she calls the doula who comes over and stays with the mother until after the child is born. The extent of the doula's role is up to the mother. She can be the primary support person for the mother, or simply an extra pair of hands and someone to go out and get food. For a more indepth explanation, check out The Feminist Breeder's Resource Guide (who coincidentally, uses the same Google image as me, lol). She has put together a great rundown.
So, as I mentioned above, becoming a doula is process. I have chosen to become certified through DONA International, one of the larger and more widely known and accepted programs. Certification involves a lot of reading (I'm working on my book list now), attending childbirth classes and breastfeeding classes, attending a series of doula workshops, and attending a number of births. My childbirth classes and doula workshops begin in October. Once I complete those and my breastfeeding class, I will need to attend three births and obtain letters of recommendation from the mothers and doctors/midwives. Once I have all my certificates of completion for my classes, letters of recommendation, and essays written, I submit my packet to DONA and they approve me for certification.
Why, might you ask, would I want to be a doula? Well, as some of you may or may not know, my area of study falls under an umbrella commonly referred to in political science as "human security". While there are several official and academic reports that go into more detail, such as this one, it is basically a "concern for human life and dignity" (see linked article). Previously I have focused on hunger and the global food system. But through some odd stumblings around on the internet, I began reading of lot feminist mom blogs and many of them were dedicated to concern over maternity care available to women here in the U.S. At first I was all like, "But this is America! (pronounced 'merica). We are awesome, and I know this because we are always talking about how AWESOME we are and we have awesome healthcare which is why we are not going to let those stupid communists change anything about it!. I mean, maybe we are like number 2 in the world because Japan probably figured out how to grow babies in cool shaped jars or something, but still." Well, come to find out the United States is 49th in the world for maternal mortality. There are 48 other countries (including some in Eastern Europe and the Middle East) where women are much more likely to survive childbirth than here. But the U.S. spends more on healthcare than any of these countries. Something is wrong with this picture. I could go into detail, procedure by procedure, about the factors that are creating this disaster in the birth industry, but for time's sake I will refrain. (Note: If you do have any specific questions or do want the long version, please comment or message me in some way). Basically, only about 1/3 of medical practices in maternity care are up-to-date, evidenced based care. Can you imagine going to a heart surgeon who was using techniques only 1/3 of which were supported by medical research? If that doesn't compromise human life and dignity I don't know what does.
So there you have it- that ^ is why I want to be a doula. So I can be there for women. So I can help them to be as informed as possible. So that they know the risks and benefits and are able to be active participants in their birth and be in control of what is done to their bodies. Once again, if anyone has any questions what so ever, please please please contact me. We can chat. Or check out ImprovingBirth.org for more information.