For many women the idea of a doula is simply obscure. Not because she doesn’t know what they are or what they offer….it’s more because she has the support of her mother, sister, best friend, husband, you name it. She considers them her doula. You know, the whole, support and love stuff. Which is really what a doula does. She isn’t even wrong. She is leaning on her most trusted life companions and who could blame her. Motherhood and birth is an emotional and somewhat confusing time in life. Why on earth would anyone pay someone else to replace their own mom….
For the most part, it’s so hard for me to disagree. These are the people you have grown to trust and love over years and years throughout your life. Who better right? That’s where I start to see why a doula is so incredibly valuable. Unlike your family and trusted friends, doula’s are not emotionally involved. I know, I know, that sounds super harsh. Hear me out though.
We go into this whole birth thing listening to all the advice, well meaning as it is, from everyone near us. We read books, visit websites, reading nightly while we lay awake waiting for our next potty break. We willingly absorb all of the “they came before us, they must know something stories”. Exhaustingly so. We poke and pry their brains for months about all the what not to do, what to be sure to do etc…What we do not prepare for is the emotional side of actual childbirth.
While we enter the hospital, be it for induction, scheduled cesarean, or spontaneous birth, we are unprepared for the emotional ‘now’ of the process. This is where a doula enters. They understand, and have been there, seen that and then some. While the nurses are explaining procedures at a hurried pace, it’s hard to catch what is going on. A doula helps to ease the interaction between staff and mom, making it easier to ask questions to nursing staff and reduce any misunderstandings. They do all this without any invested emotion. They do what you wish as per your birth plan.
During he childbirth period, be it in hospital, at a birth center, or in the home, the Doula is the consistent presence to the mother. Sometimes the consistent care is to ensure the husband is allowed a meal, or the soon to be grandma gets a little break between loving gazes and sentiments. Other moments it’s guided help or instruction on ways to alleviate discomfort for the laboring mom, or extra words of encouragement that the soon to be aunt may not have considered. These are ways the doula interacts with the whole support team to ensure that the focus is on the birthing mother. To be sure everyone is available and involved as the mother wishes to offer their best support.
Truth is this. Your family, your best friend, your mother. They are all emotionally invested. Translation is, they do NOT want to see you in a situation where they are unable to help. Many times a doula is the perfect person to bring the birth team together, and offer advice on meaningful ways to assist the mother while not impeding the desired birth. They are there to help the mother, which sometimes means helping those who want to be close her. They hold the space, so that all involved are able to have a direct and meaningful part of the miracle of birth.
I think we all experience the same levels of anxiety inducing craziness after bringing kiddos into the world. Literally, from the moment we first hold our babes until we ship them off to school or daycare. Whether we ship them off to daycare at 3 months or earlier, or if we do it at 6 months, 2 years, or we wait until they enter preschool. No matter when it happens...the struggle is the same. We face a world of emotions. They are always the same regardless of the timing. The fear, guilt, the struggle of finding our place as parents. It's a whirlwind of ever evolving emotions. Knowing that every other mother finds this transition difficult is often of no help. After all we are facing something new, something completely undesired. Girl, even knowing you are not alone is no assurance of sanity. I get it, I really do. I've been there, just like you. Looking around to see all the other moms, seemingly complacent in their new found roles, like they are a pro at it or something. (fyi, they are crying in the car just like the rest of us.)
It's so easy to see others and do the comparison game. SO EASY. Truth of the matter is that we are all experiencing the same feelings about the sudden although brief detachment.THE EXACT SAME FEELINGS. We just all handle them differently. That does absolutely nothing from our fear of what our kids are doing during their first day alone. We all worry about that. We all worry about whether or not they are being included, are they being loved, are they lost in the crowd, are they making new friends...That is what makes us all so similar.
Parenting doesn't come with a handbook, that's what we are all told, aren't we? That really doesn't help. Truth is, nothing helps. The hard reality is that we have to live it and trust that we have done the best we can. (including those days when we just wanted to sit and breastfeed while Netflix binging) Guess what...THATS OK. That famous line, 'The kids are alright', is dead on. Children are so resilient. They will grow and thrive as individuals, because that's what they are. INDIVIDUALS. Real Talk. Parenting isn't much more than creating a space for them to be themselves. We all just need to take a deep deep breath and relax. Let them be themselves, and offer guidance when needed. Outside of that, they really will end up doing amazing stuff. Allow them the space, and they will surprise you. It's all a lesson. For them, for us, for society. My favorite parenting motto is "Let them be" and "Love wins". As a mom or dad, you really cannot lose. Love and love more, that's all there is to it.
From an overwhelmed mama, who feels like a failure lots and lots of nights.
I am a DONA Certified birth Doula. Serving the greater Kansas City metro area. I am also Rebozo and Dad Certified and a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist. My heart's passion is to be able to work within the birthing community to serve expecting women through the childbearing experience.