What do you get when you put three doulas in a room with a voice recorder?
The answer to world tension.
A bit of a stretch perhaps, but let us explain.
Recently we had the privilege of sitting down with three Birth for Humankind volunteer doulas, Laura Lee Berlingieri, Julie Isaacson, and Maison Levot.
They are all at different stages on their doula journey and in their time with us. But in one short afternoon, they filled the room with so much laughter, wisdom and compassion, that solving world tension with a cup of tea and a doula or three seems entirely possible.
As you can imagine, when you bring together three women whose jobs are to nurture and empower, it’s not difficult to see why and how doula-care is so important — for every woman, but especially for the women Birth for Humankind supports.
We asked them, “what do you love most about being a doula?”. The breadth of their replies highlights how multifaceted this work is.
Julie said, “What I love most about it is how useful it is. Women really do need this. It makes a difference.”
Maison talked about how she loves creating a safe and nurturing space, to help women feel like they’re enough. To feel like they are strong and capable.
And Laura Lee spoke about how being a doula sits at the intersection of her values: feminism, public health, and social justice. She said “If I can in any way increase [a client’s] sense of self-worth just by being with them, then I can help create healthier families, which will have a generational impact and a community impact.”
Purpose. Nurture. Self-worth. Community impact.
These are not words we typically associate with our current maternal health system, with its core focus on clinical health outcomes.
It’s not that doctors and midwives aren’t doing incredible work — far from it. It’s that the current maternal health-care model doesn’t allow them the time or space to invest in this form of care. As Laura Lee puts it, “there is so much busyness that takes place around birth — health professionals aren’t able to hold the space the way doulas can.”
And yet, we know that social connection and support is one of the most powerful ways to help improve birth and early parenting outcomes for women, and particularly women experiencing disadvantage.
Julie comments, “Often I find in hospitals that, that moment, that insane moment where a new family, a new mum, a new person is born, is completely lost — a doula can put her arms around that.
The doula can slot in and fill the gap, give that continuity of care. Where you are focusing on the woman’s strength, where you are hopefully enabling a transformative deep experience of birth. No matter how it goes, but where that woman can encounter her own strength, and the strength of her femininity, which is a colossal event. “
We asked how does a doula create and hold space for birthing women and why is it so important? Particularly for the women we support, who might be experiencing trauma, family violence, financial hardship, living with disability, at risk of post-natal depression or anxiety, identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, from culturally diverse backgrounds, under 25.
This is how: empathy, unconditional positive regard, respect, acceptance.
“Acceptance of that person’s life path, their culture, their decisions, the way they want to birth, the way they want to raise their baby, the way they want go through their pregnancy.” — Maison
Birth for Humankind has provided this kind of support to nearly 300 women experiencing social and financial disadvantage.
The impact of this work is profound. It is life-changing.
Birth for Humankind client, Micaela, spoke about the support she received:
“I had been walking alone for so long in a cold, dark tunnel frightened before my doulas started walking alongside with me. By the end of the tunnel where the light was, with my doula’s support, I could be ready to embrace my daughter as my companion in life.”
We want more women, like Micaela, to receive the kind of support she needs to have the best pregnancy, birth and early parenting experience possible.
Help us continue to provide life-changing doula-care to vulnerable pregnant women by donating to our Every Doula Count$ campaign, this World Doula Week.
Nearly 80 per cent of our clients would be without a friend or family member during birth, were it not for their Birth for Humankind volunteer doula.
Your support will not only help raise the flag for doulas, giving them the recognition they deserve, it will mean a woman who might be feeling frightened and isolated knows she is not alone.
Please donate today!