I've been thinking lately about my approach to doulaing and how it coincides with the article about Megan Markle where doulas were called a professional "hand-holder".
Some people wrote about how we are much more than that, and the amazing benefits that we bring to birth. All these benefits are evidence-based and reported by mothers. It struck me how we often feel the need to justify our worth in this way.
Just hand-holding is enough.
Still amongst doulas there is huge variation to how we work, and I've noticed more and more in the birth world that people seem to want to be seen to be doing and fixing what I would consider to be normal situations.
The specifics I won't go into here as it's not my place to tell others how to work or what skills to use with their clients. I am not even saying one way is right and one way is wrong. But for me, personally, I see so much that mirrors our medical colleagues, in that an intervention is performed in the hopes of achieving a favourable outcome. The implication being that without this intervention the mother could not have birthed her baby.
All this comes from a deep desire to help but also, I believe, from a discomfort with being "just" a doula or 'hand-holder'.
When did we go from being with women to doing things to them?
When a mother comes to us with a concern or a problem, when did we decide to fix it for her instead of filling her with confidence and self belief?
To me, I am a space holder. I am the ear on the end of the phone as she talks through a difficult decision. The one who listens to her hopes and fears and affirms I believe in her and what she is doing. Often it's a reassurance that everything is normal, is simply a variation. Your baby isn't in position at 28 weeks, your body is designed to birth, 41 weeks is a perfectly normal gestation. Taking our modern cultural narrative of birth and redirecting it to the timeless truths and peace and calm.
I am not a mini midwife, albeit using more palatable interventions to achieve outcomes.
In my own work I often really think about the message we are sending women when we have a million tricks up our sleeves.
I don't take anything to a birth because my presence is enough for all those positive associations doulas have.
To all new doulas - you are enough. Just being is enough. And if you really and truly believe this, you are showing your client you believe that she is enough too.