permission

It’s been a big doula weekend for me. I met with a couple about attending their birth and then attended a doula in-service for my volunteer work. I’ve tried to get in a little grading here and there, but mostly I’ve been immersed in topics of birth and, yes, birth politics.

I’ve attended several births now, and I’m meeting more doulas and becoming more a part of the doula community here in Utah. Recently, I gained the insight that my relationship with my partner is part of the reason I am able to pursue this work. In some ways, this relationship frees me up or gives me permission to do the work.

Despite many assumptions, my decision about when or whether or not to have children is not connected to my doula work. Instead, my doula work comes from my experience as a yoga instructor, which helped me get good at cuing people through difficult situations. It also comes from my own personal politics. I want to facilitate positive birth experiences for women because I think too many institutional barriers are set up that disempower women during labor and delivery. In 2005, I read an article about the medicalization of the female experience and my outlook was forever changed.

One of the problems with being a doula who has never given birth is that people assume you’re just in it because you’re desperate to get pregnant. That is not the case for me. I’ve found that since I am in a relationship, I feel free to pursue this work because I am in a relationship and I could become pregnant if I so chose. Because I am in a relationship, I am better able to access the real reasons I do this work, and I don’t have to make excuses and I think there are fewer assumptions that this is simply about me wanting to be a mama.

There was a recent post on a Utah birth forum about how when doulas attend a birth, they get “baby fever” all over again. A few women chimed in to agree, but not me. There is nothing more precious than a newborn’s whimper. But, if anything, I leave births feeling grateful that I don’t have to take the baby home. I’m usually exhausted by the end of a labor. Of course, I don’t have the benefit of the hormones and adrenaline that new moms have, and maybe that would make all the difference. But for now, I am really *really* happy to do this work, and I’m glad that it doesn’t have to be about my own reproductive choices–which is a separate conversation altogether.

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