Posted by doularama | Filed under News
One of the most important roles of a doula is to discover for a woman and her family the options that she has during labor. In our culture we have adopted a particular birth scene outside of which few women venture. For too many of them, there is no other option because they don’t know anything else exists. When a woman designs her birth experience knowing what is available to her, she can really be the master of the outcome. Even if she chooses to do what everyone else is doing, she has had a say and, therefore, power over the circumstances.
In my ongoing quest for more information, I find that my options are somewhat limited. Not so much because they don’t exist, but because sometimes I can’t take advantage of them. This was the case when I decided to train with The Association of Labor Assistants and Childbirth Educators (ALACE). There were no workshops in my area and it wasn’t really possible for me to travel. I waited a little while because I figured, this is New York City. Why wouldn’t they want to come here soon? Well, it turns out that they didn’t. Madness, I tell you. I volunteered to organize the event myself and, by the time I got my act together, ALACE had changed its name to toLABOR – The Organization of Labor Assistants for Births Options and Resources. The training was packed and there were people left on a waiting list. I plan to have a role in establishing the permanence of this training as an option for the aspiring doulas (and others who are interested in birth) of my area. If you are not near New York and, for some crazy reason, you don’t plan to be, take a look at the toLABOR website to see if there’s a training scheduled near you. If not, maybe you should consider bringing one to your area.
I have many hopes of change for our world. I imagine I’m far from alone on that one! One of the things I hope for is that, among the responses of doctor, firefighter, ballet dancer, teacher and singer, young children, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, will say doula. Making good training available to doulas today will help make that a possibility for some tomorrow. I am honored to be in a position to help. Stay tuned for more information on that matter in the months to come.
Tags: alace, doula, doulas, tolabor
Posted by doularama | Filed under News
I live on a hilltop not far from a Stella D’Oro bakery. At the right time of day, when the wind mingles with the particles of baked dough just so, our neighborhood air is filled with sweet temptation.
Decades ago in Colombia, there was a small bakery which was known for miles for its egg bread, the aroma of which was enjoyed at the same time every day, as a long line formed outside for the delicious loaves. My uncle was delighted to have found a job in this fine establishment, until his revelatory first day of work. That morning before sun up, he was given his instructions and began mixing and kneading. When the defining moment came to turn this ordinary dough into the beloved egg bread, the owner poured a stream of yellow syrup, not resembling anything magical at all, into the dough. The divine egg bread’s aroma was the product of an artificial goop and my uncle’s spirits fell like a startled soufflé.
For almost a year now the secret ingredients at my local Stella D’Oro are in the hands of scabs. For many of the usual reasons, the workers have been on strike with their picket signs on Broadway, rallying support and asking for a public boycott. Now, I know it may seem like I’m making this up, but I hope you believe me when I tell you that, since the strike began, about once a week, the aroma of baking goods has been replaced by the burning smell of a batch gone awry.
So, am I writing all this just to make you hungry or to ask you to stop buying a certain product? No, here’s the good part. On one of those burned-cookie mornings I was on the bus that runs past the Stella D’Oro factory. I was talking to a woman and ended up telling her I am a doula. These days, people either respond with excited interest or have no idea what I’m talking about. The woman on the bus was getting ready to disembark as she asked, “What’s a douler?” Knowing I had little time, I told her that I provide professional labor support. She seemed thrilled and cheerily said as she headed out, “So you’re helping out the Stella D’Oro workers. That’s great. They really need the support!” If she had hung around a little longer, she may have been disappointed with my response.
Here it is for you, though:
The word Doula comes from the Greek word for the most important female slave or servant in an ancient Greek household, the woman who probably helped the lady of the house through her childbearing. Dana Raphael, in the book The Tender Gift described Doula as a “title for those individuals who surround, interact with and aid the mother at any time within the perinatal period.” Because of that book the word became used in the context in which we are using it today. A doula is a woman experienced in childbirth who provides continuous physical, emotional, and informational support to the mother before, during, and just after childbirth. In the prenatal period, a doula can help women gain information so that they can have the power to make knowledge-based decisions rather than fear-based decisions.
It turns out, by the way, that the Stella D’Oro strikers did not need my labor support, as the judge ruled in their favor. I wouldn’t have been able to help them anyway, unless one of them was having a baby.
Tags: childbirth, doula, doulas, labor, pregnancy