I see so many other women and men that have a passion for birth work, and that’s a wonderful thing. I sometimes feel left out as I hear excited talk about “one day, when I’m in midwifery school” or “I think I’d like to transition to catching babies at some point“. This can only be a good thing. The world definitely needs more midwives!
But… It’s a little isolating. Doula work is my calling. I’m so honored to support families through their births and their journeys into parenthood. I stand in awe of the strength women possess, what our bodies are capable of, and how birth transforms a regular woman into a goddess. I have no interest in managing a woman’s birth, watching closely for baby’s (and mom’s) health, or catching babies.
Doula work is not a stepping stone to midwifery work. I’m not doing this as a way to get known in the birth community while I train as a midwife. I am doing this because I want to be there for the mothers. So much changes after a woman gives birth. Almost immediately, the baby is the focus. Relatives get the news of the birth and ask about baby’s weight, whether or not baby has hair, and what baby’s name is. “How are you doing?” is a question rarely directed at the parents.
I want to be that person that cares for the parents. In the hospital, baby often has nurses, doctors, dad, and other relatives to see to his or her care. Parents are left to learn breastfeeding mostly by themselves (even when hospitals have lactation consultants on staff, they may not be able to get there early on). Depending on hospital policy or if there were complications, the new mother may be left alone while the new dad goes with baby, or baby may be taken while both parents are left alone, waiting for news.
In the hospital, midwives and OBGYNs have other patients to see, charting to complete, and limited time. Beyond the birth, any repairs needed, and a quick chat about the birth, they usually don’t see the new mother again until discharge. Nurses check in more often, but they also have charting, other patients, and more to do.
At home births, the midwife may leave as soon as an hour or two after the birth. While it can be nice to snuggle in with baby, it can also be a little scary. In birth centers, it’s a similar struggle. Usually you head home from a birth center as soon as you feel up to it within about 8 hours after birth.
I want to fill in the gaps. I want to help the parents adjust, in addition to supporting them through their birth experience. And that is definitely not a stepping stone.
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