I am a Full-Circle (Provisional) Doula, trained through the International Center for Traditional Childbearing (ICTC) in Portland, Oregon, at the end of 2012. ICTC was founded by Shafia Monroe, CM, MPH, who has been a midwife for more than 30 years. ICTC emphasizes health inequities among Black communities, and works to train more doulas of color in order to address these.
What is a doula?
Being a doula means that I am a birth companion. Unlike a midwife who is a healthcare provider, a doula provides emotional support, education, advocacy and guidance. A doula does not interfere with the way your partner(s) has chosen to support you. Because I learned the Full Circle model the relationship will (hopefully) begin in early pregnancy and we can establish a much-needed level of trust and partnership before labor and delivery, that lasts up to one year into the postpartum period.
A doula can be helpful with:
-Breastfeeding support (though I do not provide any hand’s on assistance. I strongly believe doing so interferes with the innate and biological instinct between the mother-infant dyad)
-Instruction in newborn care
–Light housekeeping (unloading a dishwasher, for example)
-Information & referrals
Initially, I signed up for doula training because I wanted to learn more about breastfeeding. I thought that postpartum work would be where I would really place my emphasis, because that is where I believed I would be able to continue the dialogue and encourage breastfeeding. But attending training really transformed my perspective about birth and allowed me to see that being a doula would mean that I could place my social justice beliefs in this realm, with a great emphasis on challenging the continued legacy of racism and gendered division and all of the social issues that come along with these. The history of medical experimentation on Black women, having our bodies cut into, the egregious amount of unnecessary Caesarean sections, the racial and cultural insularity that is deeply ingrained in public-sector healthcare centers along with breastfeeding inequity and more are products of a very sordid history and are the reasons I am here. I approach birth as a social justice endeavor.
My emphasis is placed on offering support to those who belong to the following groups, but this does not mean those who fall outside of these realms will not be considered:
- Women of the African Diaspora and all Women of Color
- Visually Impaired
- Low-income families
- Single Mothers
If we connect and decide to work together, I require that you fill out the necessary paperwork in order to assist me with becoming certified. This is not extensive, complicated or invasive but it is required by the certifying entity and I must submit these forms in order to show proof of my attendance at your birth and at least one postpartum visit.
*While I work towards certification, my fees are nominal, at best. I generally will collect a small fee to cover travel and a few other minor expenses involved with you birth. Once certified, I will operate on a sliding scale payment system, so the amount you are charged is based on you ability to pay.
I am anticipating becoming certified by ICTC in mid-December, 2014.
Labor and Delivery Doula