West End Doula

Thoughts from the heart and mind of a new doula.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Today's Lessons

I don't have time to write anything in depth right now, but today was my first Anatomy and Physiology of the Childbearing Year class, and it was jam-packed with good information.

The most ground-shaking thing I learned today was that when my baby brother was born, the epidural that my mother received was probably a bit risky. She's often told me that she was frozen up to her breasts, and therefore couldn't feel to breastfeed, and it always made me feel a bit uneasy. Now I have a clearer picture of why I felt uneasy about that: it's dangerous to be frozen that high up. I'm debating now whether or not to discuss this with her, because I'd rather not upset her about something in the past, but I'd also love to ask if she was aware of it being a problem or if the doctor had her laying in any particular position.

I also learned more than I ever thought I would learn about the muscles and bones of the pelvis, and about the structure of the clitoris. Boy, it sure isn't as little as I thought it was. I find it fascinating and disheartening that all the other anatomy I've been exposed to has not discussed how big the clitoris is and how everything is connected down there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Marketing

The part about this whole journey that scares me the most isn't having a woman put her trust in me, or the possibility of an unexpected outcome at a birth that ends in tragedy, or any number of other scary thoughts. It's the marketing.

Before my training, I was absolutely baffled at how I was going to find clients. Me, a childless bald 25 year old woman, with no contacts in the birth community. How would I find pregnant women who need a doula? Should I stop them on the street?

The course taught me a bit, and I'm not quite so nervous now. Here's my current plan for getting clients and getting my name out there:

- A website, which is ready to go and will be uploaded later this month.
- Doula Services Association membership, which will generate references for both volunteer and paid clients.
- DONA membership. I was asked, upon signing up, if I wanted referrals from them. I said yes, even though I have no idea if this will generate any useful leads.
- Business cards. I'm going to design them later this month and have a small run printed up at Staples or Kinkos or something.
- Word of mouth. Friends and family are going to help me with this.

I have a few other minor ideas on top of these ones, but these seem to be the ones with the most promise. We'll see how it goes!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Becoming a Doula

First of all, a bit about me.

I'm a 25 year old woman with a shaved head and a big heart. I have always been fascinated with babies and pregnancy. My mother gave birth to my brother when I was nearly 10 years old, and helping raise him was one of the biggest honours of my life. I became a babysitter at 11, and was a full-time nanny a few years later.

This past year, my best friend gave birth to her first child, a beautiful baby girl. I had the privilege of being with her through her pregnancy and I continue to spend as much time as schedules allow with her and her daughter. Seeing the pregnancy and birth process inspired me to look into becoming a part of birth in other people's lives. It is how I discovered that I am a doula.

...

I have just completed my birth doula training at Douglas College, under the amazing tutelage of Jalana Grant and Kathleen Lindstrom.

The training was, in a word, amazing. The room was set up in a typical seminar layout, and it looked like any other college class aside from the fact that there were pretty scarves draped over the television and the room was full of women of all shapes and stories.

Keeping confidentiality in mind, I won't discuss any of their stories, but these women are certainly amazing. I am honoured to have spent the past two days with them.

We went on a journey, covering all the basics of supporting a woman through labour as well as our own birth stories and the births of other women. We watched videos of waterbirths in the Black Sea, and of a homebirth in Mexico. We gave each other massages and listened as our stories were shared. In the end, when we were standing in a circle crying together while saying goodbye, we'd formed a bond. One that I'm sure will last for a long time.

...

This morning I mailed in my membership forms to the Doula Services Association and became a member of Doulas of North America. I'm going to begin my birth doula certification as soon as I get the package.

I am so thrilled to have found something that calls me as strongly as this work does. My next step is going to be to find a mentor in the downtown area. I can't wait.