the doula spotlight

hello good peoples,

this post is part of an ongoing series called the doula spotlight. my goal is to interview doulas around the country to highlight some of the good things birth workers are doing for our birthing mothers. each week we’ll be answering 3 different questions about doula life. i really love working on this series and i’m so happy to share the wisdom of these women with you.

photoRina Crane kinda seems like a, excuse my language, badass. Rina is based in the Bronx as a doula, doula trainer and founder & program coordinator of a volunteer doula program called Bronx Doulas serving women that otherwise might not have access to doula care. I was connected to her by another awesome doula and based on her answers and bio I can say i’m so happy women like Rina are doing this important work. From hypnobirthing, to reiki, to lamaze, it seems that Rina’s studied it all.

I’m happy to give you the words & wisdom of Doula Rina:

1. How long have you been a doula and what brought you to down the doula path?

I’ve been working as a doula for five years and feel that I’ve always been a doula at heart. After my births, I felt that there was lots of information that wasn’t easily accessible by so many women in our culture. Most of us do all of the standard things without asking questions or knowing what our options are. I felt very strongly that I should help get information out there. I decided to train as a doula so that I could help one or two women every now and then. Apparently, I’ve had a slight departure from that initial goal.

2. I’ve experienced people with the preconception that doulas only help women during natural birth. How would you respond to that? Who can benefit from doula support?

First, everyone can benefit from doula support, that’s why we’ve always had doulas. In most cultures, women are supported in birth by members of their community who come together and share their experience, stories and comfort techniques. Whether it’s one person or a group, this is how humans have always birthed in most parts of the world. I’ve been hired by women who were planning to use pain medication or even have cesareans. They may hire me for the reassurance and comfort I might provide or for the information I can share.

Sometimes we think we are being given a choice, but without an understanding of the pros and cons, we are being cheated. If you have a negative side effect from a decision you made, but you knew that was possible, you’re still in control. If you didn’t know about the consequences, it can have long-term effects, physically and emotionally. Many doulas say that they empower women in their births. I disagree. Women have the power already. Sometimes, a little information or a little word of encouragement uncovers it for them, the power that was theirs to begin with. That was a circuitous route to say that doulas can be immensely helpful during births with planned or surprise interventions.

3. You are a doula trainer and run a volunteer doula program in the Bronx, {tres awesome!} can you give me 3 top concepts of the doula role you teach women pursuing this role with you.

I became a doula trainer in order to support my volunteer program (my next step is to convert it to a community-based non-profit in which the doulas get paid!), and have learned from my trainees which are the top concepts:

-It’s not your birth

When a prospective client asks what my birth philosophy is, I say it is to help them achieve what they want. As doulas, we need to put our own ideals aside. We help people get the information they need to make the decisions that are right for them. Sometimes, we may not agree or understand them, but we don’t have to.

-How will she remember this?

As a doula, it’s important to know that a woman will always remember how she was made to feel in labor. Sometimes ours is the lone voice of calm or encouragement in the birth room. It’s essential to keep this in mind. A birth that departs greatly from the plan can still be triumphant and fulfilling if the woman feels she has been treated with respect and care. For various reasons, sometimes the doula is the only person doing that, but unlike others on the scene, that’s her job.

-Take care of yourself. 

Hopefully, it’s clear how this is important for your clients. You know, the whole idea of putting on your own oxygen mask first? Some things are obvious like eating well and urinating frequently and having reliable back up. Just as important, though, is having a network with whom you can debrief. Don’t take this work lightly. Attending a birth is exhilarating and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. You should have someone with whom you can share your joys and sorrows. You will experience both.

I’d like to thank Rina for sharing her thoughts and words on the doula spotlight. You can learn more about Rina’s services at DoulaRina.com  and her service work on the Bronx Doulas facebook page or website.

HEY YOU! are you a doula? would you like to contribute to the doula spotlight? send an info request to heymomjeanz {at} gmail {dot} com. thanks! Also, would you like a t-shirt? {smile & wink}

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