Being a doula has taught me a lot over the past several years. It’s taught me to listen, to be more empathetic, and the best ways to show empathy.
Sometimes all one needs is someone to listen. Someone to hold on to who will tell them they’re not alone. As a birth doula I am honored to serve women in this capacity.
As someone that works in the world of maternity care I recognize that our system is broken and in need of change. That there are ever increasing cesarean rates, unacceptable maternal mortality rates, and higher than average numbers of premature babies in our state and in our city. Birmingham has its own set of issues where prenatal care is concerned. In the midst of all this I find being a doula to be the quiet in the storm. Being a doula means sharing wisdom with these women, taking time to listen to their stories, and being willing to step in as support when they need to find their voice. Teaching women to take responsibility for their care, for their baby’s care, is something I find invaluable. When a woman realizes she has options and has the ability to participate in the care she receives it can change her whole outlook on this time in her life.
This is a time when change comes, whether she wants it or not, it comes. She’s at a moment in life where things can change for the better or for the worse. She can be empowered to care for the child she’s carrying or taught that she is not capable. I find that for the women I have served through BirthWell Partners, it’s the small things that can make the biggest differences. It does not take much, being quiet and letting her have a moment to share something important to her, being there when she feels like she’s lost control, or when she just needs someone to tell her “it’s OK, it’s normal, and you’re doing great”.
Being a birth doula I did not expect to get anything back, that I would be giving, but I have been given so much by these women I have served. They have given me a better understanding of barriers they face, they have given me confidence to know that I can serve women well, they have given me pause as I stand in amazement of barriers they have broken through, things they have overcome. These are only a few examples, the gratitude they show always overwhelms me. The most profound moment was from a client I had served who came back a year after her birth and said “because of you I want to be a doula, you made a huge impact on me and my family and I want to be that for someone else”! At the time I was serving her I was not thinking about how that event would shape life for her and her family outside of a new little one in the family. But this experience of serving a laboring mom has impacted every part of her life now. It’s amazing how birth does that; it marks you, one way or another, as a mother I know this fact well. I am so grateful for this opportunity to be able to educate, empower, and support these women through this part of their life. Without BirthWell Partners and the scholarships they have provided none of this would have been possible. I will never forget these women and their babies; they will always hold space in my heart. I look forward to the day when every mom has a doula! Because of my work as a doula I have realized other needs in my community and have pursued and acquired my certification as a lactation counselor and am working towards my childbirth educator certification. I am also on the path to serve women as a midwife in hopes of being another option for mothers and to be able to provide respectful care to those in my community.
Bethany Boggan: Birth Doula Workshop Fall 2013