Normally, I’d talk about how beautiful it is for a mom to have doula support during her birth and beyond. But today, I’m talking about the support we doulas get from our families so that we can function. We are on-call for a particular woman’s birth and go whenever she is in labor. In order to do that, we must have a lot of support in our own homes. Our families and friends make sure that our children are safe and looked after. They make sure that we can be available to women whenever they need it.
I know my own family has supported me throughout my doula career. In November, I’m going to help by supporting my husband as he reaches to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month. Together we are participating in National Novel Writing Month. I’m going to give him whatever support he needs. I’ll be his researcher, his muse, his drill sergeant. Together, I know we can succeed, because support can be beautiful!
I’ve been working on my texting skills lately. Some of my clients rely on texting often in their daily lives. They feel the doula-mom relationship should also involve texting for fast communication. I agree, but there are some limits that I am discovering. It’s difficult to have a meaningful dialog while texting. When a mom asks my opinion about some birth- or breastfeeding-related idea, I usually feel there are several options for a particular situation. Normally, I would offer them all to her. They don’t often fit into a short burst of information. More importantly, while we’re talking on the phone, I can hear not only the words of her response but the tone of it. “Ugh” doesn’t translate well into a text. She could possibly type “ugh,” but did she mean a strong “ugh,” a weak “ugh” or an in-between “ugh”?
This is even more important when I”m trying to answer the question “What should I do now?” I can offer a triage of solutions using a dialog and her voice as my guide. When she’s calling to ask if I think she’s in labor, I rely on listening to her breathing, her voice and her silence to help me decide where she is. If she texts me information like “I’m having contractions,” she’s giving me her opinion, but she isn’t getting the benefit of my experience. My experience is part of why she hired me.
A doula-mom relationship should be built using several kinds of communication, but shouldn’t rely too heavily on one. Emailing and texting shouldn’t take the place of phone conversations and private meetings. What I’ve discovered is that texting ≠ nuance. Every relationship is full of nuance. I need that nuance to make the woman-to-woman connection we need so that I can support this new mother.
We often say being a doula is a calling, not a job or career. I think what we mean is that we are honored to be able to comfort a new mother during her labor. We are joyful when parents get to welcome a new baby into their family. We are excited to be able to offer our experience with breastfeeding and postpartum travails, if we can help a mother ease into her new life that way.
Because we are fascinated by this process of birth and new mothering, we study it and become more knowledgeable about it. We try to be a useful resource for mothers and new families. Yet, that isn’t the most important thing we do. We offer our support and comfort because people matter. New babies are people who matter. New mothers are people who matter. New fathers are people who matter. We do our best to help ease the way. We enjoy helping and being a resource. That’s what matters.
Dr. Tom Brewer, who authored the Brewer Diet, has been helping women stay healthy and avoid preeclampsia (also known as toxemia) for fifty years or so. Here is the official website: Blueribbonbaby.org . He says that the cause of preeclampsia or toxemia is known. It is not genetic, it is diet based. Here in Pittsburgh, we have too many women who suffer preeclampsia. It greatly affects the safety and comfort of their births. Here is the check-list for the Brewer diet.
If all it takes to have a toxemia free birth is to follow the Brewer diet, then what is keeping you?