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Roots Childbirth Blog
Tuesday, 22 December 2015 00:00

Dear Doulas


About 10 years ago, after working in the mainstream,
conventional models of care, serving women for years and being frustrated with the restrictive options they were being offered, I decided to become a doula. At the time, the word “doula” was pretty foreign in my community and finding work and other professionals to connect with was challenging to say the least. This was before Facebook. It was before professionals and consumers could connect with the click of a button. We couldn’t hide behind a screen or let our profiles work for us. We used our mouths to communicate, hugged people, shook hands and looked folks in the eye. And somehow…. It worked.

I remember a handful of us local birth professionals connected regularly on living room floors. We discussed birth options, changes we dreamed of seeing in our community, plans to implement grass-roots movements for the underserved, ways to distribute evidence-based education and ideas on how to connect with the population more effectively. It was hard work. It was invisible work. It was meaningful work. And somehow… it DID work. We worked together, worked hard and made change happen! Today, the hospital in Nashville who delivers the most babies, (1) employs midwives, (2) has labor tubs available in many of their delivery rooms, (3) is working towards the coveted “Mother Baby Friendly” certification (another top hospital in Nashville has already achieved this status) and (4) has started offering “family-friendly” c-sections. We have also seen a huge increase in the number of families choosing homebirth for low-risk, healthy pregnancies, seen the VBAC success rates increase, seen the opening of a brand new Birth Center in Nashville (Baby + Co) and have worked alongside many hospitals to help implement evidence-based childbirth education. The changes I have seen in the last decade have been phenomenal and the Nashville professional birth community (many on a volunteer basis) had a huge impact on the success we’ve seen thus far. We worked TOGETHER and together, made huge strides!   

Same has consistently been true with our clients. Somehow, before anyone told us we had to have “functionality” in our websites and eye catching social media profiles, moms invited us into the most intimate times of their lives. They allowed us to share our skills and experience with them as they ushered forth new life. Their families became our families. Why? Because our hearts spoke louder than our Tweets.
Our passion was more beautiful than our profiles. Because guys, this work of being a doula….. Well, it’s all about the moms… not the memes.

Now before you egg my house, I’m not saying technology is bad. I get it. Technology has advanced and so must we. I don’t use a paper calendar anymore; I use a digital one. I don’t have a landline; I have an iPhone (although I still miss my Blackberry but that’s a post for another time). I rarely give out business cards anymore; my website is sufficient. And many times, instead of an interview, folks stalk me on Facebook and hire me sight unseen. That’s the world we live in and I do get it. But although technology has advanced and changed how we practice in the day to day, birth has not changed. It cannot be translated into an avatar. It cannot be expressed in a blog (not even this one). And it cannot be discredited by the insecure (although many have tried).
Birth is unwavering. It’s a classic that never goes out of style. It doesn’t need to be mobile friendly and it definitely won’t wait on buffering. The most important thing you need to know about birth is….

It doesn’t need your permission.

But here’s the problem. In this ever changing, fast-paced, keeping up with the doula next door world we live in, we’ve gotten distracted.
We’ve become overexposed. We’ve gotten competitive. We’ve gotten stuck behind our screens. Caught with dead batteries. Complacent. Convinced ourselves that charging more means doing more. That forward thinking is forward movement. That creating a footprint in cyberspace is the same thing as standing in a threshold holding open a sacred space. But birth knows…

I, like you, have stayed up all night with hundreds of laboring woman. I have physically held her weight, held her tears, held her pain, held her fears and most of all, held her space. I’ve held the space open for her as she found her own strength to open physically, spiritually and emotionally to birth. I’ve protected the space for her while she dug deeper to the place that allowed her to welcome new life. And I’ve protected the space for her (as long as she needed) as she discovered the courage she never knew she had, to say goodbye.



I stand in humility and awe as I
anchor myself in theses doorways... Protecting the space these women have invited me into.


Because the work of a doula cannot be put into a business plan. Yes, I just said that (now I’ll surely get egged). It cannot be structured and it cannot be used to elevate professional status. It’s messy. It’s unorganized. It’s painful. It’s sleep-deprived. And it’s amazing!!! Yes, you can absolutely create a birth professional business plan model and structure a financial framework that fits your family’s needs, but don’t always expect birth to comply. Birth must lead you, not vice versa. Birth won’t always allow for change. But it changes its mind. It doesn’t often give advanced notice. But it notices everything. If you can’t move and adjust quickly, like the flicker of a candle, you WILL burn out.

The doorways we have been asked to stand in are sacred. Even if you dont connect with your role inside of any spiritual belief or approach, your role does exist inside a threshold that is “sacred” in the sense that it precedes and supersedes the normal way we experience time and space. We labor WITH our clients. We stand witness to their delivery and in spite of our own understanding, we are delivered.

So thrive in this role! Love and serve and be prosperous as you do so. But don’t take more than you need from birth. It is a resource. It is meant to be treated with respect and utilized responsibly. Remember the sacred place and role you hold.  It takes stamina and courage. You will never be the most popular one in the room. You will feel powerless and even invisible at times. But birth sees you… I see you.


As you stand in the threshold of life and continue to silently protect the space for MYSTERY to become MIRACLE.

I see you.

Xo, Gaylea











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