Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Becoming a Doula

"The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.
Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily."

Read more here.

Since I was little, I’ve loved babies. Babysitting, big families, and the Bolivian Baby Home have all made up the best parts of my life! 

I can also add "birth stories" to the list, particularly a hobby when I was finally expecting my own baby at age 30. While I was thrilled that former CDA volunteer Katrina planned right from the beginning to travel to Bolivia and allow me to have a home birth, I read the stories with a new level of attention and felt compelled to prepare myself physically and mentally. I knew birth would be like a marathon, and difficult to switch from home to hospital in Bolivia. I was determined to do whatever I could on my end to make a natural home birth possible, even though the hospital transfer rate for first births is high. God was gracious and blessed us with a relatively quick, manageable birth, with an awesome support team gathered around Jake and I on that day as our family began. I was elated!

Inspired by the whole process, visions of becoming a midwife danced in my head. But first I became mother to four more children over the next 18 months and knew there was no chance of pursuing training in that demanding profession for a while yet. (Other times, my sleep-deprived self tells me that I’m crazy for even THINKING about an occupation with such an unpredictable schedule!) 

My current reading (and re-reading) stack

Fast forward to January 24, 2016. I discovered that a new church friend here in Tennessee wants to become a doula AND that training would be taking place in Memphis that very weekend. The wheels started turning. Quite honestly, I had considered becoming a non-medical labor companion “lowly” in times past. But to be fair, doulas had barely entered my thought anyway, since they weren’t an option for my births in Bolivia. One midwife was the best I was going to get! Within a couple of days, I realized it made sense to become a birth doula first, much more attainable with young children, and that way still become part of the birthing community. Jake told me it was a great fit, that it’s obvious I’m passionate about it. I wrote a group of friends to get their thoughts, and they were very positive regarding both their experiences with doulas and my new dream.

It wasn’t possible to arrange everything for the January training on such short notice with a frequently nursing baby, but I intend to participate in the next local training in August. Meanwhile, I’ve much enjoyed researching different aspects of becoming a birth doula! I am stocking up on the books needed for the training and DONA certification process, making lists of local birth professionals and studying what services they offer, solidifying ideas for my website and blog, getting the word out that I can help families at the birth of their baby without cost… And I now have a legitimate excuse to learn from birth stories all the time, ha! 

This week I began The Bradley Method Childbirth classes as an observer. I LOVED the first class and could see myself teaching them in the future! I’m grateful for special savings that allows me to begin this now, even as Jake works hard to get our income stabilized in our new life in the states.

Stay tuned for more news, especially if you are a woman living in the Memphis area!

Another stack of books we're working through - I'm picking up reading as a hobby again!


  1. Hello! Are you still in bolivia? I am a doula in santa cruz!

  2. Hi Vanessa! We moved to the US a month ago, where I'm taking advantage of the doula training and better access to books and resources. That's so awesome that you are a doula in Bolivia!


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