My first formal training as a doula was at the Montreal Birth Companions Doula School. Weekly class sessions were paired with apprenticeship hours. In the practical learning portion students were paired with a mentor to observe her in client sessions and during birth. Next, two experienced students were paired together. After that, you were to work solo, always with a backup doula.
This teaching method allowed doulas to learn and for a population of Montreal women to reiceve free doula care. These cases were some of the toughest of my career thus far. These women were often from a marginalized populations (minorities, recent immigrants and refugees, homeless and impoverished...) and appreciated having someone in their corner for such a momentous occasion. Some mothers came into our care through referrals (from social services) in the last week of pregnancy. Most of them had very complicated cases and very limited resources to deal with their situations.
However, these are some of my most rewarding experiences. I have sat and hummed songs with a woman after 30 hours of labor. I have attended for a mama whose language I could not speak, massaging her back and holding her deep gaze. I have held a woman's hand as she made her voice heard. And most rewarding of all, I visited their houses postpartum only to hear how thankful they were that I was there with them.
All of these experiences and more have allowed me grow as a birth worker. I learn a little something from every birth and every mama.
Thank you to the mamas for the opportunity to share my knowledge and to witness your evolution into motherhood.