Recently I was asked, by someone I haven't seen in a very long time, the question I get a lot: "What made you want to be a doula?"
I get this question a lot, particularly because I am unmarried and have never been a mom. Though I fully have plans of being married and a mom one day, now just isn't the right time. So why do I want to learn so much about pregnancy and birth? Why do I care about something that hasn't personally happened to me yet? I've answered this in pieces before, but here is a full answer! :)
I grew up with little knowledge of birth, the different ways to give birth, and all the different aspects of being a childbearing woman. All that I knew came from TV and movies, and the vague memory of the fact that my mom had my little brother in a hospital. I first heard the term "doula" when I took a Comparative Healing Systems Anthropology course in undergrad, which prompted me to ask my mom more about her birthing experiences. Before taking this class, and reading Brigitte Jordan's "Birth in Four Cultures," I never realized that there were differences in birth experiences. I didn't know that you had a choice in where you could give birth, who attended your birth, that there were different positions you could give birth in, that in some countries medication is NEVER given, and so forth.
I learned about how birth could be different from the Western Medical version (the only way I knew), how doctors treated birthing women differently from midwives, how treatment varied by country and culture. I became fascinated by all the things that young women in America are rarely taught, and I wanted to learn more.
Learning about myself as a woman, learning about a situation I hope to find myself in in the future, and learning about the capabilities of women around the world has made me determined to share knowledge, options, the reality of birth with others! And one of the best ways to both learn more and help women is to be a doula!
I had a period last year where I was applying to go to grad school and job-hunting but feeling dissatisfied that no jobs available really had to do with my interests. It was actually my boyfriend of now 4 years who suggested that since I love reading about doulas and birth so much, maybe I should do the training and certification! So that's how I got officially started.
And I've been absolutely LOVING it. Doula-ing satisfies my desire to help make a difference in women's lives, to be active in women's health rights and feminist issues, and to be a life-long learner. I hope to be able to make a difference in the birthing world in my own little way.
This coming fall I'll begin studying Applied Anthropology and Maternal and Child Health (dual MA/MPH), which is a way I can apply the knowledge I've learned from being a doula to my life goal, and hopefully use my degree to help solve contemporary problems in maternity care.
And, for now, I am one of the most knowledgeable never-been-pregnant women ever!