If you have children, it’s likely that you know about or have considered – maybe even hired – a doula. Doula comes from Ancient Greek (doulē) meaning “female slave.” Ladies love the slave part.
The concept of a doula is not new. In fact, it’s a tradition that goes back many years in many cultures. Some women don’t live in close-knit communities where their sisters, mothers, aunts, and friends are available to support them through pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood; these events can be scary and can make a woman feel lost if she has to experience them alone.
There’s absolutely no reason to feel threatened by a doula. They help fill an important gap by providing support to the woman and her partner/support system throughout the childbearing year. A doula does not replace the support system or the father, they help and assist with support so that the family can focus on loving and encouraging the laboring woman. Doulas can serve as a source of information during pregnancy, labor and birth, even postnatal. They assists families in gathering information about their pregnancy, labor and the options available for delivery and support in recovery.
So they’re basically the captain of the team - the inside-traders for the pregnant – the Dumbledore of Gryffindor - the crazy cat lady on the park bench that talks to pigeons. Just kidding about the last one. Who has time to talk to pigeons?
The title doula is earned through knowledge and experience – kind of like karate belts. Just because you’ve watched a hundred kung fu movies does not mean you can kick some ass (contrary to what Encino Man has taught us). Same thing with pregnancy; having ten kids does not make you a doula.
Men can be doulas. DONA, an international doula association that serves more than 20 countries, certified their first male doula, Keith Roberts (a licensed massage therapist), in September of 2000. I’m not sure how I would feel about a male doula – it’s more intimate and way more personal than say a male masseuse or male babysitter. Unless my wife were to specify otherwise, I’d go with whoever and whatever she would be most comfortable with in the delivery room. Which kind of brings me to my main reason for starting this doulacious article.
Is Yoda A Doula?
There’s a fairly recent post out there by doulafilm.com with the title, Is Yoda A Doula? First of all, he’s a Jedi Master. But in a weird way, yah, he kind of was a doula to Luke Skywalker. In the ultimate realm of possibility, I think Yoda represents an end-game spiritual guide that has a calling to teach control and responsibility to those who possess extreme power (the Force).
The dark side can be expressed in an extreme way by death at the hands of another. Given that the Force is aligned with honesty, compassion, mercy, self-sacrifice and other positive emotions, who has more innate light force than a woman at birth? – or a man, can’t forget the bros. Women are built to create a human being inside of their own body. That’s crazy! Yah, dudes have a manufacturing process too but come on, her body does most of the work. After all, the pregnancy process is the single greatest and most complex engineering process in the history of the world. Doula’s respect that process and I respect doulas for that.
Learning The Ways Of The Force
Shortly after we found out that we would be having a baby, my wife and I started watching A Baby Story on TLC. This was before Toddlers and Tiaras, so yah, we don’t watch TLC anymore. This passive experience was the equivalent to catching up on Episodes I-V before living Return of the Jedi.
While we were seeking out other sources of babytainment, we found ourselves emerged in our own feelings of excitement, concern, worry, and curiosity of what others have experienced. We’ve heard of other parents signing up for lamaze/birthing classes and consequently went back and forth on “should we be taking a class?”. You really can’t cash in prestige tokens and act like a “pro” your first time through the ‘map’ – you’d probably end up worrying the medical staff if you’re trying to act as cool as a cucumber.
While my wife and I already felt comfortable with our research on the labor and delivery process, we wanted a more intimate opportunity to learn from an expert. It wasn’t until week 36 that we decided to “cram for the test” where we reluctantly scheduled a few private home birthing classes. We went with a highly recommended and local ICCE childbirth educator, Elaine Stuart.
When we met Elaine, she was on the path to achieving certified doula (CD) status with DONA and had already assisted many couples in the births of their babies as a labor doula. She had also been conducting group classes for pregnant women for the past 12 years at a local Kaiser hospital.
The 3 hour private sessions with Elaine were really fantastic and allowed us to feel reassured and comfortable with our knowledge of the new tips we learned. We really liked Elaine and felt comfortable with her. She offered her doula services at our last session (which she rarely does because of her busy schedule). Unfortunately, we had to decline due to financial reasons. I would’ve loved to have had her there for support, but I knew I wasn’t going to just sit back with my feet up and let my wife do all the work.
See, Elaine was like our Obi-Wan. She helped get us to the transition where, if we were lucky, would’ve crash-landed on Dagobah and eventually met up with Doula Yoda. My wife and I already felt comfortable as a team (like Luke and Leia, without the whole incest thing), so her services would’ve been welcomed but not required. Elaine’s knowledge and words of wisdom did pop up in the form of Alec Guinness when we were in the delivery room (maybe that was just me). In the end, our private experience with her helped me channel her wisdom, and for that we thank her.
If You Have The Credits…
So basically, doulas are awesome! However, a doula’s service is a luxury; not everyone can afford it. Those that can ‘crash-land on Dagobah’ and find a certified friend or family member willing to work for free are lucky. If interested, definitely find and meet up with a certified doula to determine what your needs are for the mother and family. Your chances to have an awesome birth experience can only go up and be well supported.
It has been 0 days since our last Star Wars reference…