DOULA – the art of ‘just being’
It is indeed, a difficult concept, especially when it comes to supporting a birthing woman.
A Story about how I learned to keep my ‘hands off’
On completion of my midwifery training in a major city hospital, I got a job in a very small country hospital in regional NSW. I was excited to get back to general nursing as I had not enjoyed (putting it mildly) my midwifery training! This was a 40 bed hospital and serviced a district of about 3000 people. The first few weeks were exciting, interesting and challenging, and then one very slow, quiet night, through the doors, came a woman in labour. I was terrified and immediately picked up the phone to contact the one and only GP in the district. The nurse aide that was on duty with me, ubruptly intervened, hung up the phone and informed me not to disturb the ‘alcoholic’ doctor in the middle of the night!!!! She then informed me I was the only midwife in the district – which is apparently why I was employed. Well, my midwifery skills, or lack of, had not been mentioned at interview. I had no experience and was now even more terrified.
Over the next few months there were many labouring women. I had my midwifery textbook in one room and senselessly ran from woman to book – trying to find a solution for what was happening. It was stressful as I poured through the textbook with little result. Finally one of the wonderful nurse aide’s suggested that I should ditch the book and ‘just be’ with the woman. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. “She’s just having a baby and all she needs is to feel safe”. I didn’t understand, at this early point in my career, just how wise those words were, and how profound that statement was in setting me on the path that has followed. My midwifery training had certainly not taught me to ‘just be’! quite the opposite.
Initially I found this incredibly challenging. How could I sit and not do anything? But what these amazing birthing women taught me was this was exactly what they wanted. They were full of praise for my ‘wonderful’ support – and yet, I had done nothing. It took quite some time to appreciate that ‘my nothing’ was ‘their everything’.
WOMEN KNOW HOW TO BIRTH
Women do not need to be rescued from their labour and birthing. We often refer to intervention as ‘medical’ but intervention can also mean lots of props, talking, massaging, active birthing etc. This is disempowering and disrespectful to birthing women. Of course, some women do want/need physical support options but the most important is to simply create a quiet, calm energy so she can confidently ‘just be’ in her own birthing power.
My journey as a midwife, doula, trainer, author, hypnotherapist has certainly shown me the power a doula can have by being silent and creating a ‘stillness’ in the birthing space.
Are you interested in becoming a doula? Check out our brand new online course here: https://birthright.com.au/training/birth-doula-training/