I was recently asked where I would like to see Doula work go. It got me thinking…
I’m lucky. Richmond, VA has a great birth community. Supportive hospitals? Check! Hospital based Midwives? Check! Homebirth Midwives? Check! Knowledgeable, supportive Nurses? Check! There’s baby wearing and cloth diaper education. We’ve got several options for Prenatal Yoga, Independent Childbirth Educators, Lactation Consultants, and a large Doula community. One of the biggest certifying Doula organizations is even based here in Richmond! Where was this 10-15 years ago when I lived in another part of the state and was preparing for the birth of my own children? I’ve often wondered if women in other parts of the state and country are feeling this way now. Are we just lucky here?
While I feel like I am kind of a solitary birther, I wish that I would’ve had someone there to help my husband be more involved. Especially during the posterior labor of my 1st child. I think that people are more familiar with Doulas now than even a few years ago. I think the culture of birth is starting to shift. I feel like with the internet and social media, there’s more of an awareness now. There’s more talk about informed consent and rights in childbirth. More and more Childbirth Educators are explaining the role of a Doula and how we help partners help the laboring mom. Women are reading about what we do in their pregnancy books, and there are care providers who recommend us. Celebrities are even shouting out to their Doulas following the much anticipated birth of their celebrity baby. Still, SO many people have no clue what we do.
Sure, when I say I’m a Birth Doula and the response is, “is that kind of like a Midwife?” I don’t mind too much, because they are at least headed in the right direction. Of course I explain the differences between Midwives and Doulas (especially the part about us being non-medical support) and I’m so thrilled that people are more familiar with Midwifery, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if “So, who’s your Doula?” become just as commonly asked as “When are you due?” or “Who’s your Doctor?”
So what do I think the future of Doula work look like? I see the need and desire for Doulas growing. I don’t see it stopping at Birth Doulas. I think that the more women share their stories, both positive and negative, the more aware we will become about the benefits of being supported by people who will help us achieve our goals. Doulas are just a piece of that puzzle. Hopefully one day, when I tell people I’m a Doula, they’ll ask “Birth or Postpartum?”
Cristina Evans is a Mother of 3, Wife, & Birth Doula