For centuries, women have passed their childbearing wisdom down from grandmother to mother to daughter. Today, we are lucky to have a plethora of (mis) information via the internet and from each and every woman who has given birth within a 50 mile radius around us. Women are usually eager to share their birth experiences. Sadly, most of them are enveloped in fear, degradation and regret. My drive for becoming a birth worker was to prove to women that you could have an empowering, fulfilling, even painless, birth. I have easily incorporated holistic ways into my client's information because that is the lifestyle I lead. It just seems natural to include it.
As a doula, I have learned many things about Holistic Care as it pertains to pregnancy, birth and postpartum. It is not always teas and tinctures and sage and prayers. Sometimes, it's simply doing nothing. Taking in the "whole" situation and filling in the gaps to complete that circle of support.
I have also learned (through trial and error) how Holistic Care should look for the doula herself. When we are on our last legs, we are of no use to a mother who has been in labor for 48 hours straight. She needs you most in those final moments. Be present for her. Here are a few points that have shaped me along this journey:
1. Prepare for the unexpected- All of the affirmations in the world will not help you if you have not prepared for the unexpected. I have faced several such events over the last year and they have knocked the wind out of me, literally and figuratively.
2. Listen to your intuition- Always. We are so connected to our intuition but often dismiss it because we feel silly, or don't want to hurt someone. Your intuition is your checkpoint. Always, always trust it.
3. Sometimes, do nothing- This one is difficult. We are programed to help, to assist, to encourage. But sometimes, nothing is exactly what is needed.
4. Never underestimate your energy and how it shapes a birth experience- One of my favorite sayings is "Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space." I find this really is poignant when attending a birth. My goal is to always bring pure, positive energy into a birth. And when the unexpected happens, I maintain that.
5. Self care is important- As a birth worker, we are often running on protein bars and day old hospital coffee. This does no one any good. Be prepared with healthy snacks, a refillable water bottle, comfort measure for a quick nap, a toothbrush for those long births. Take the time to take care of you, so that you may take care of others.
Always learning, I might look back on this list in 5 months and decide it is not longer valid. For now, it is. As I learn and grow, I hope to change as well. To fully immerse myself into this birth community and to watch it rise with love and hope. There are big changes on the horizon and I am elated to move into the next chapter of this calling.