Sunday, January 09, 2005

Savant Servant

I have just finished my weekend of doula training (see below) and it was wonderful. I spent the greater part of the last 48 hours in a Baltimore basement with the same 15 classmates and instructor learning and practicing all sorts of comfort measures, positions for childbirth, techniques for encouragement and concentration and taking in heaps of information about birthing and the postpartum period.

The weekend was decidedly interactive: we all bounced on birth balls, squeezed each other's sacral areas, gave backrubs, tried out dozens of pushing positions (including the supported dangle, toilet squat, cow/cat rock...), "vocalized" (lots and lots of grunting), did "roving body checks" (lots of lots of stroking - all kosher) and other creative and slightly boundary-expanding and personal-space-invading activities.

We were also shown about a dozen videos of different types of birth - the water birth, the vaginal birth after c-section, the home birth, the unmedicated birth, the sorta medicated birth, the super medicated birth and the hypnobirth (v. strange). We also saw a video of one woman birthing twins where the first baby was born breech (bum first) with NO medication. Unebelievable. Our instructor was obviously a proponent of less-invasive births but was extremely careful to support all birthing choices (possibly excepting c-sections on demand) and to make sure we behave in the same manner.

Our instructor knows, of course, that it's unusual for doulas to be young women without children but assured us that a sincere desire to help is sufficient to, well, help! I liked this much better than the pretty glib response our professor in our childbearing class: "One doesn't need to have cancer to nurse cancer patients and the same goes for labour and delivery." Frankly, I think it would be quite inspiring to have a nurse who survived cancer if I were a cancer patient.

So the next step in my doula-hood is to pick up a client. On Tuesday, we'll be paired up with another student and assigned a pregnant woman who has requested our services. Exciting, no?

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