I am a doula and I NEVER had a natural birth.
Recently I had a mother of a client ask me how many natural births I personally have had. I responded, "none." She looked completely dismayed. "Oh, well, how many vaginal births have you had?" I responded once again with, "none. " She couldn't believe it. " How in the world can you be a doula??," she asked. I was 23 years old when I was pregnant with my first. I was also a practicing nurse at the time. I knew my options. I knew I wasn't comfortable with an external version. I couldn't financially afford chiropractic care and acupuncture. I knew that I was headed for a c/section. And I was ok with my decision. Has my decision from almost 18 years ago had an impact on my parenting? Absolutely not. That little frank breech baby boy is now an AP student with high hopes of playing college football. He has a heart of gold. He buys lunches for his buddies that can't afford it, he drives them home after practice because their parents are working. He takes a carload to church with him every Sunday. I have poured my heart and soul into that boy and he makes me so proud. At 25 years old, I became pregnant again. 15 years ago you were hard-pressed to find a VBAC-supportive doctor. I didn't have any complications with my first c/section and after much thought and consideration, I decided to do a repeat c/section. It was definitely a harder recovery, especially chasing after a toddler. That 15 year old girl that could have been a VBAC is my talented artistic child. She has an incredible voice and loves listening to records and making music videos. She is fiercely loyal and has a sense of humor that keeps us on our toes. I love that kid. What makes my c/sections different than some other moms who have had c/sections? I felt fully informed and I knew my options at the time. People ask me if I would handle things differently now. Perhaps. But all I know is I made the best decisions for my family and I at the time.
So the question goes back to, "Since you never had a natural vaginal birth can you REALLY be an effective birth doula." My answer? Absolutely. My job as a doula is to inform clients of all of their options. One of the first things I tell potential clients is, "Your goals are my goals." Birth is completely unpredictable. And you know what? Sometimes a c/section is a medical necessity. It has been a huge comfort for my clients that have had a c/section to know that I have walked their path. I know the pain, the recovery, the disappointment. But I also know that it makes me no less of a doula, much less a parent. To say that someone can't be a doula because they haven't had a natural birth is also saying that a doula isn't effective because they haven't had an epidural or a c/section. Bottom line is doulas are here to support moms that have experienced all types of births. Moms need to know that we are there , without judgement, without ego, to support them where they are at.
Becky Hines, Dallas Birth Doulas