To become a DONA certified doula, we must first take an intensive workshop. I took mine over a year ago here in Montreal, it was taught by the truly sublime Debra Pascali-Bonaro. During her teachings, she would always come back to the fact that we are doulas but above all, we are activists. Activists. I thought it was quite an extreme and unusual way to describe a woman who helps another woman through their childbearing year. At the time, I did not give myself enough merit or see what I do as activism. It seems that activists are the people at city hall holding posters and shouting at politicians. Yes, I know, doulas, midwives and agents for change in the birth world can find themselves in front of some sort of city hall showing their voice, but I am not someone who is likely to be found in that situation. I am a quiet activist, offering education and advice to those who ask and sharing my ever expanding knowledge.
This weekend, I found myself feeling like maybe I am more of an activist than I thought.
I met with a couple and their brand new baby. A baby who was born out of a wonderful experience at a local hospital. A baby who will always know he is loved. A baby who will grow more and more everyday under the care of his mother and father. We met up in their house for our last meeting and our last formalities. I answered a few questions, they updated me on their past week as new parents, and we sat and ate some lovely chocolate. As the meeting drew to a close, the couple asked me for more information about cesarean births.
As a doula who is not supposed to interject her own biases, I gave them a very bland and uninspired detail describing the intricacies of a c-section, what the rates generally are in our area, and so on. They retorted with a lovely telling of how they are so appreciative for doulas and all of their hard work to prevent unnecessary cesareans. They added that a holistic medical staff can also create similar outcomes. They started quoting statistics from different countries and mandates that certain states have in place. We discussed at length a whole range of topics, namely the terrifyingly high cesarean rates around the world and the overuse of interventions in the process of labor and delivery. These new parents shared my emotion with regards to the over-medicalization of the birth process. In the end, they thanked me for doing what I do and said they were appreciative to learn so much with me over their pregnancy and beyond. I was just happy to hear that people outside of the doula community feel the same way as I do about leaving birth to its processes and waiting for nature to take its course.
In the end, I am happy to have met this couple, this family. They have reignited a sense of confidence and activism in me that had been hiding for quite some time. It is clear to me that we are all agents of change and so long as I keep speaking up for women and supporting them, I am an activist. I am glad that they have reminded me that I do not have to be the loudest to make a difference. Thank you.