My sister was an addict, so the word "junkie" has always had negative connotations for me. It indicates that someone is powerless to a substance; whether it be drugs, food, alcohol, or anything else that is harmful or does harm.
So, to put "junkie" behind birth? It's just not for me.
I love birth. I remember my first birth like it was yesterday. I was with the mama for almost 48 hours, it was a long induction followed by a long labor followed by quick pushing. Her little one needed to be placed in the NICU for observation so I stayed with her even longer and visited her baby boy.
When I finally got home I was exhausted but alive. I even mentioned to my partner that I smelled like birth. It was then, that I knew I was hooked.
Hooked. There's another possible triggering word, a word with some negative connotations as well, and I used it.
I do have a strong desire to get back into birth work. The move to the Pacific Northwest has been a transitional one and while I have a full time job that is fulfilling me financially, it's not fulfilling me as a person. Only birth work has done that for me.
So am I addicted to birth work? Am I hooked on it? Am I "birth junkie"? I think not, I'm just a woman who wants to live to help other women experience the blissful pleasure that is birth.
Head over to Maiden to Mother to read an article by another doula and the term "birth junkie"
One of my favorite births was a birth where I didn't do much. I, of course, helped both the birthing mother and her husband by making suggestions, soothing her, encouraging her. But when she wanted a shower, she wanted her husband. When the waves and surges became too much, she needed and wanted her husband to hold her up. When she wanted to cry, it was her husband's voice who told her how beautiful she was, how strong she was, how amazing she was and what a great job she was doing.
In our postpartum visit I remarked that I felt like I didn't do all that much, and she countered that it was amazing and necessary for me to be there. She recalled my voice in her ear during the pushing, my voice encouraging her husband (and her) and my voice of comfort when papa when to fawn over his son while she birthed her placenta.
It's true that sometimes as doulas we take a secondary, albeit important and vital, role when there is a partner. And that's okay.
By Julie Byers
It is a hard thing for a doula to admit:
The best births are the ones at which I’m not needed.
Superfluous. Merely a concierge service. Standing around twiddling my thumbs or sitting in the corner knitting.
Truth? Sometimes I’m baffled by my work as a doula. I’m confused by the mystery that my presence makes an impact. Especially when I don’t *do* anything.
Take Julia’s birth. I left Julia’s birth feeling like her three year old did more than I did. I mean, really. What did I possibly offer to that family? And then later, Julia’s husband says I was worth every penny.
It made no sense.
Or Melissa’s birth. I fanned her. With a manilla folder. That’s about all I did. And then later, she says she couldn’t have done it without me.
It made no sense.
I read about the early studies on doula support. In those double-blind randomized controlled trials, the laboring women had no idea that the extra woman in the room was a doula. They’d never met her before. Yet, their birth outcomes were significantly better than the births that did not get the “extra person.”
It made no sense.
Nearly 8 years into this gig, I think I’m maybe beginning to understand how doulas work.
I’m reading an incredible book titled The Worst Is Over: What to Say When Every Moment Counts. I bought the book thinking it would help with my kids. Norah has an anxious tummy and Cedar is ever catapulting from high places. I never imagined how it might relate to my birth work. But, of course, women in childbirth are in an altered state of consciousness just like people who experience trauma. Childbirth is NOT trauma and not always even painful but the brain does go into an altered state. Women in childbirth are often dreamy, time becomes hazy, thoughts may be confusing, suggestions plant deeply. I already knew how important language is for birthing women but this book took it up 10 notches. And it taught me about pacers.
Read the rest on Julie's blog.
Hi there! I'm Erika Davis and I'm a doula working in the Seattle and South Puget Sound area.