I think it was the recent conversation with a friend — a new mama, and the couple of hours we spent on the phone talking, and me just thinking it was so awesome being able to listen to her explain her feelings on being a mother, her birthing experience and her breastfeeding journey thus far, is what I believe solidified the feelings I had been having about becoming a doula. I’m being summoned — to go deeper with this type of traditional care, and to use this space to further breastfeeding promotion. It never crossed my mind to become a doula until recently, but since I have been thinking about it and asking around from others about what they do, in order to get a larger scope of the practice and to get a feel on where I would fit in. I’ve been looking at information and reading articles from others and for me, being a postpartum doula seems it’s just where I would fit in.
A doula provides emotional support for women — and a postpartum doula provides support for the family once the baby is born — by making visits, which could be once, a few times or for a few months. These may involve doing light chores around the house and cleaning like unloading the dishwasher, cooking meals or other general check-ins, as well as provide breastfeeding info. There is also support given to the family as well — instructions on caring for mom. Doulas drastically help increase breastfeeding rates, so to me, this is just an extension of breastfeeding advocacy, and a way for me to continue to support women.
I haven’t looked at many doula programs around here, since the first that came to my mind because of the upcoming conference, I’m sure, is through the International Center for Traditional Childbearing. ICTC was founded by Shafia Monroe, and after looking over their website on the steps to become a postpartum doula, I called and received information on their training program, which I am very interested in. What really grabs my attention is their Black-centric perspective on birth and midwifery. ICTC teaches the history of Black midwives, and presents information in a ‘culturally and spiritually-specific environment’ — which I’m assuming means it takes into account that people practice and experience birth-rites differently, which is just excellent. And though I’m not exactly sure what ‘spiritually specific’ means in this context, I’m not at all opposed to experiencing this training from a spiritual viewpoint if it happens to be different from what I subscribe to. Plus they serve breakfast (*insert smile*).When I talked to a representative the other day, I was told they don’t offer courses in only certain areas of training like postpartum care, but I would learn all aspects and then market myself as a postpartum doula. After she described the steps I would need in order to complete Full Circle Doula Training, that is ‘based on the midwifery model’, one of the main stipulations she said is that one must feel called to do the work.
More than any other work, I love doing what I do and have a unyielding passion for centering the experiences of Black women and Women of Color, and helping to increase and stabilize our breastfeeding rates. But I do this independently, which means I pay out of my pocket for all courses, materials, etc. If you feel you’ve received inspiration or other encouragement from my work and the Lactation Journey Blog, consider ‘chip’ ing ‘in’ — it will help offset some of the costs associated with all of the requirements.
*Thank you to anyone who has donated in person or through Paypal. I’m looking forward to training.