A midwife at a recent birth I was supporting asked me 2 questions that made me really think.
1) What made you become a Doula?
2) So, why not a Midwife?
I looked at the grey speckled hospital ceiling for a bit, then broke into a huge smile that just came over me. I can remember word for word what I said to her.
"I'm far happier where I'm standing right now. I want to help as many women as I can have positive births and there is almost always a need for a Doula, the way it's always been. I have thought about midwifery a lot over the years actually, but you know what, I'm not a midwife. I'm a Doula."
It was all I had time to say before she had to rush out of the room to get supplies, leaving me alone with my wonderful client, highlighting [one of] my point's perfectly. My client needed physical and emotional support more than her very excellent midwife could give. A familiar neck to drape her arms round, another humming voice to follow hers, a breath to match, reassuring whispers, position suggestions, tiny pieces of banana offered, back strokes....just being by her side. Aloneness, even with just her husband in a hospital room was not helping her adrenaline to stay low. Her busy midwife couldn't possibly remain by her side like this the way I could. Me, without a book of paperwork to stay on top of. My place was clear. Everyone could see it and had seen it since the moment we stepped through the doors. Her attentive and loving husband and I took turns of course, but when a surge came it was me she seemed to reach for. His presence was there constantly, keeping her oxytocin high, he fanned her and fed her water but it was me she leaned on, my whispers eased her rising shoulders down away from her ears, I kept her swaying, kept her relaxed as the surges came and went. We danced together for hours and hours.
I should say, I've not always known exactly what a Doula is or does and I've certainly only recently truly TRULY seen, felt and believed in the importance of the role as something every woman should have access to.
Anyway. fast forward to that moment when her baby landed earth-side and I'm once again wiping hot tears from my cheeks. I can't stop them, I never can. She has no words, just tears and we both cry.
Midwife is smiling and working to detangle baby a little, wrap him up and pass him into his mother's trembling arms - she is such an awesome professional. She's seen so many babies born and still her joy is clear. But she has work to do.
Meanwhile I'm still crying with this new mother and father. Keen for that skin-to-skin asap, but still crying.
Look how beautiful this new mother is. Power personified. Is it me or is the room vibrating?
No, I'm not a midwife, I am a Doula.
If you'd like to read more about Midwives and Doulas, this post over at Mamalina's blog might interest you. It's busting the very common and incorrect myth that Doulas are Midwives.
Thanks for reading this far wondrous being!