Okay, I’m going to address the elephant in the room: Hi, I’m Lindsey, I am a doula and breastfeeding counselor and I have not given birth. I am not a mother. I am childless.
*Awaits the anticipated collective gasp*
I bring this up because after I completed my doula training three years ago through DONA, I came up against the very real assumption from potential clients that in order to be an effective birth doula, I had to have pushed a child out of my own vagina/cesarean surgical opening. To be honest, that hadn’t even been a thought in my head when I found out about the doula trade. I simply thought, “Oh wow, I get to help people! Sign me up!”
Doula work and counseling on breastfeeding simply takes training, education, and empathetic compassion to be effective. That could apply to almost anyone.
For example, that male OB will never give birth, yet he’s a great OB. A psychiatrist may never have had an eating disorder, but she’s incredible with guiding her patients through treatment. A cardiac surgeon may never have had a heart attack, but can be a lifesaver. A writer may never experience the life events of her characters, yet she is incredibly invested in them and effectively guides her readers to invest in their love for them, too.
Sure, there are many that join these types of helping professions because they’ve either had a positive and/or negative experience in life, which drives them to want to help others. But there are also many of us who simply have a love of supporting other people in times of need, especially in an area of life that they never get tired of learning about.
That’s where I fit in. I like to say that as a doula, I help women who feel at their most vulnerable prepare for the unknown. Birth isn’t always a textbook event. Even if I’d given birth, there is no guarantee my labor/birth would look anything like yours.
Here are a few more thoughts as to why hiring a childless woman as your on-call doula can be a great benefit:
- NO BAGGAGE: First and foremost, a doula who has not given birth does not have any guilt, shame, fears, opinions, prejudice or trauma attached to the act of birth. She is basically a clean slate. You can rest assured that any turn your birth story takes will not trigger a childless doula, like it could some women who have birthed before. This isn’t true for all mother doulas, but it is a very real possibility for many.
- YOU HAVE HER FULL ATTENTION: Doulas who have children may bring into the birthing room guilt over leaving their child’s 7th birthday party, or missing a game/recital or bedtime reading, or worry over missing a breastfeeding session or two while she’s with you. When a doula who doesn’t have children is on-call for you or is present at your birth, her only concern is meeting your needs in the moment. Her schedule is open and her conscious is pretty clear.
- NO CHILDCARE CONCERNS: Honestly, I don’t know how doulas who have families do it (and I give them FULL props, here!). To be on-call means having to put down what you are doing at a moment’s notice and attend to your client. When you have kids, the biggest worry is, “Okay, who can I call last minute, in the middle of the night, to watch my kids for an uncertain amount of hours? And how much will that cost me?” Not everyone has built-in retired parents or in-laws that are available 24/7, or a partner that works from home, or a very amenable neighbor you can knock on their door any time, day or night. That means babysitters, nannies, or whoever else you can scare up a the crack of dawn. Sometimes they have to get creative to achieve full coverage care for the time mom’s gone. These are very real problems doulas with children can come up against – and often find themselves dropping out of the doula world until their children are older. It’s a shame. But with a childless doula, all you have to do is text/call her and ask her to come, and she’ll be there within a couple of hours. She might have to get some gas in her car on the way or finish that pasta salad she just ordered, but she’ll be there.
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