The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves.” This word 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. In the past, doulas were our mothers, sisters, aunts or cousins who had been through labour and birth with their own children. In present times we often live far away and don’t have the support we once did.
As a new doula, I reflected on what the word “doula” means to me. To my surprise, I discovered I had been a doula for longer than I have known the word. My first job fresh out of internship was as a dietitian for a pregnancy outreach program as well as for a drop in women’s health centre. I was immediately fascinated by all things pregnancy and birth. I saw how pregnancy and birth is a transformative event in a woman’s life. I am to this day continually amazed at the power of women to thrive, especially when supported by women.
I was lucky to be with many women in their journeys through pregnancy before I really learned what a doula was. In my work as a dietitian, I knew a doula was a woman who supported women in labour. In doula training, I found out it was much more than that. It’s learning and listening to a woman’s needs and wants; it’s opening your heart and going with her on a journey; it’s supporting her in getting the best birth, the healthiest baby. In short, it was work that I had been doing at my previous job. I didn’t know that in missing the birth, I was missing some of the best parts!
Now I am a birth doula. I see that role as something more than attending birth with women. I envision helping women to access information to achieve their best choices in health. I hope to expand the doula title into my nutrition work as well. I hope to use the same skills I learned to be a doula and transfer them to nutrition counseling. I will be your nutrition doula.
So my answer to why am I a doula? I have always been one, I just needed to be shown the way.