Sunday, December 02, 2007

speaking to and sitting in classes

Friday I gave a presentation on doulas to a "Childbirth and Culture" class at the U. Discussing doula work is one of the easiest things to do for me. I could do it at length without any prep. I did prep, of course, only to spare the folks in the class a disorganized rambling.

Besides the typical things you'd expect -- how I became a doula, what doulas do, what doulas can't do, how I find clients -- I talked about tensions in doula work. Tensions are where things get interesting. Tension is key to any story, even one about the work of a doula.

Some of the tensions I discussed (in no particular order) were:

    Wanting to serve high needs women (i.e. those who have socio-economic issues that match or overshadow their birth support needs) and the additional demands those clients often place on one's emotional/mental/psychological reserves.

    Wanting to make a living as a doula while charging a reasonable (employable!) rate to one's clients.

    Refraining from bringing one's own advocacy/political/personal agenda to births; i.e. remembering these are the clients' births, not one's own.

    Being an advocate for one's clients without speaking for them.

    Doing something versus doing nothing (when doing nothing may be the best course of action).

    Balancing doula work with other work and/or with having a family of one's own.

    Being hired by the client but working in a hospital setting (where one can be removed by the hospital).

    Working alongside extended family who offended by or skeptical of your presence as a doula.

There are so many others, but these came easily to mind. For "comments" fodder, what else am I missing?

I then spent yesterday at a day-long training on post-partum home visits and how to make the most of them. It was a very good session. The morning was all about postpartum depression and psycho-emotional adjustment to motherhood. I now am armed with the EPDS and plan to screen all clients postpartum. And when I find one who may have PPD, I know what to do in terms of helping with referrals, etc.

The afternoon was about maternal recovery, infant care and safety and other more routine postpartum situations. Much was a review, but I picked up some good tips as well as new ideas for how to structure my postpartum visits.

I'm a bit "doulaed" out at the moment, but glad to have had some significant chunks of time devoted to thinking about this work.

Thanks all for the recent comments. I'm reading up on the sources you suggested, am planning to follow up to Marianne's tagging, and will definitely expound on Kim's question about doulas at homebirths.



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