By Michelle Every
The answer to this question is simple. I became a Doula because people who knew me asked me to be present and support them at the births of their children.
At this time I lived in Mid Wales and was privileged to have a job which was predominantly connecting and supporting the local community. I had space and time to spend with people and found myself being invited into their homes and lives. This led to being asked into their pregnancy, birth and post natal stories.
When I reflect back to this time there are four significant experiences that shaped my journey into becoming a Doula as a full time job.
When I was pregnant with my fifth child, a friend of mine at the parent and toddler group we attended shared with me that she was having a miscarriage. We connected and I offered her support. A couple of weeks later she found me and shared her news that she had a baby still growing in her womb. She had been expecting twins. We kept in close contact throughout her pregnancy and as the time for the birth drew closer she asked if I would be willing to drive her to the hospital for the birth as her partner worked away. The hospital was an hour away and on this journey we had such fun. This was her 5th child and she was confident in how she wanted to birth. Her challenge was trust. She found trusting strangers difficult, so I was invited to be present to help her to let go and to trust her body.
I was astonished to see what a difference my presence made to this woman. I sat in the birth room. She didn’t want me to talk, to touch her or do anything. Yet she said afterwards that just knowing I was there was all she needed. Wow. This impacted me deeply.
The second experience that impacted my journey into being a Doula was the birth of my 5th baby. I share about Arthur’s birth often as he was born when I was 20 weeks pregnant and his life and death has impacted who I am deeply. Giving birth to a baby who is not “viable” impacted my world in a way that is difficult to describe. When I became a Doula I knew I wanted to support others who experienced miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death. As the years passed I also became passionate in equipping other Doulas to offer the same service so I created and facilitate Supporting Every Birth – a workshop exploring supporting loss.
The third experience was supporting another lady in my local community just days after I had given birth to Arthur. This lady had experienced a miscarriage before her first son was born. I spent time with her son while she birthed her daughter in another room. I was not needed in the birth space this time. What she needed from me was to keep her son safe. Being part of this family’s story so close to my own loss was emotional for sure but one I am so glad I agreed to do. Their joy brought me joy.
The fourth experience happened once I moved to Greater Manchester. Again, I was asked to support a mum bringing her firstborn into the world. She had a long labour at home and my role was encouragement, laughter, service and companionship. The midwife attending the birth was the voice that changed my life – she asked me if I was a Doula. And if I was not that I should be as this was what I was doing.
“Doula? What is a Doula?” I asked.
Looking it up on Google I could not believe that what I had instinctively offered was, in actual fact, a job.
Two years later I was looking for a new job. I found Nurturing Birth and trained to be a Doula.
Reflecting back today on why I became a doula what I notice is how natural and easy the process was. I took each opportunity that came my way and trusted my instincts. I hope my story brings encouragement and confidence to others.