Friday, June 17, 2011

So How Did I Get Here?

My Doula Trainer, Celeste Rachell, said that it's rarely the doula who finds the work but rather the work that finds the doula. I think that's what happened.

It was October 2010 and I was at the RISE Conference, an organization I became familiar with through The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. Both are awesome, grassroots, powerful groups committed to talking about and organizing around anti-racism (whoa, that work is for a whole different blog!) There, by chance, I happened upon a session called "Radical Doula Work" and I learned about The Doula Project - an NYC based, volunteer run, group of doulas who provide free (and low cost) doula services to women on the spectrum of pregnancy. Meaning, women who are having abortions, miscarriages, stillbirths, live births, adoption focused births, etc. The organization most commonly serves women of color, women from low-income communities; Women whose health, and prenatal care, goes under-served, even forgotten. My head went wild. My soul was jumping. THIS is powerful work. Throw me women-focused issues and attach the word 'radical' - I'm in. I was hooked.

At the end of the conference we were given postcards to write to ourselves that would be sent out later in the year. Words of encouragement, pieces of the day we wanted to take with us, something to bring you back to the cause when months later you are bogged down and feeling low on energy. On mine, I wrote "Doula." I didn't know where it would take me or what it meant but I knew I couldn't leave that word, or the work, behind at the conference.

Some time went by and life continued. Work, friends, family, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking about doula work. It hit me one day when someone close to me needed pregnancy-specific support - "I wish I was a doula" was all that ran through my head. Before I could think twice, I found a training through DONA and signed myself up. For this quintessential type-A personality, I knew this drive was coming from somewhere powerful. 

I trained for three days with Celeste Rachell of Long Island Birth Partners (two days focused on doula-specific work, one on general childbirth education and interventions commonly used.) I was introduced to the incredible birthing community (OMG, I LOVE meeting new communities!) And Celeste is one of the most animated, powerful, inspiring teachers I have ever had. Our group was filled with women who had birthed, who hadn't birthed, who had witnessed many births, who never had seen one (read: me), who are already trained nurses or yoga instructors or educators or the resident "go-to" person about all things pregnancy and birth among their group of friends. I was engaged and excited and focused for all three days and I could not wait to start practicing.

As a doula, I found that my most important role is to empower every woman to find her voice and direct her birthing experience.

Empowerment?! Hello - Social Work at its finest!

I am now working toward certification. As a trained doula, I need to attend 3 births in order to apply for certification with DONA, which also includes writing an essay and reading certain required material. For this, I am looking to work with pregnant women who plan to birth "normally" - meaning, not as a doula for women who are miscarrying or aborting, etc. However, after/during/while I work toward certification, I do hope to, and plan to, always include "spectrum pregnancies" in my line of practice.

So here I am. Trained, educated, ready to practice. I am empowered and invigorated and I can't wait to work with some strong women & families.


  1. Yay for you!!! I was wondering what all of those gmail posts were about. :) My sister-in-law had a doula at her birth and it was a grrrreat experience.

  2. i loved reading this chana! good luck with the certification process, and keep us posted along the way!

  3. please o please let there be a 'when a doula has a baby' post someday!