What is a Doula?
A doula is a trained non-medical companion who supports another individual through a significant health-related experience such as childbirth, miscarriage, induced abortion or stillbirth or non-reproductive experiences such as dying. A doula may also provide support to the partner, family and friends. The overall goal of a doula in any context is for their client to feel safe, be informed and feel comfortable, complementing the role of health professionals providing medical care. Definition excerpt from Wikipedia.
I was a full time birth doula for a few years before I had my son. Doula training and study gave me lots of tools, tips, and tricks. I knew when and how to use acupressure to support labor, how and why to use movement for optimal fetal positioning and the best sound and breathing to loosen and open the body for delivery. Despite all of these studied skills, my greatest gift to birthing women was to hold space for them.
As soon as I packed my bag and left for the birth, I began the work of clearing my mind, releasing judgement, and opening my intuition so that I could give the family the best of me. I was careful never to pray for any particular outcome, but always to ask for the highest good for everyone involved. I was a master at shifting my perspective, and opening to faith in even the most challenging circumstances.
I knew exactly how to mediate all the working relationships in a birth room, how to clear lingering negative energy, and call in extra support for spiritual and emotional well-being. My humanness is real: I made mistakes, missed signs, wore myself too thin at times, but I always recovered, learned, and grew in my capacity to hold loving space.
Birth doulas still hold a statistically small role in the greater birth landscape, but their work has the potential to completely transform the birth culture and tie together the disjointed parts of the western birth world. Holding an even smaller role in women’s health is that of the abortion doula.
What is an abortion doula?
Many people ask, “What does an abortion doula do?” A good percentage of the population has heard of a birth or postpartum doula, but they cannot wrap their heads around what exactly an abortion doula would do.
An abortion doula fills the very important role of holding space for mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing throughout the abortion experience. Like birth doulas, abortion doulas vary in their scope of practice. Some are present during the procedure, some only available surrounding the decision making and healing. Depending on location they may or may not be provided by the clinic. Some are hired or contracted privately and expand their services beyond the actual procedure to help a woman make her decision and heal afterwards. Essentially an abortion doula meets the needs of the head and the heart, while medical practitioners care for the physical abortion procedure.
The most important role of an abortion doula is to help a woman feel seen, validated, safe, and supported in her unique situation. Research shows that most women do not regret their abortions, but the landscape of feelings and experiences days, months, and even years after abortion varies widely. As is the case in all mental and emotional health, women are looking for connection and community in their human experience, and abortion doulas have the potential to offer that in many different ways.
Whether you are considering an abortion, or have had an abortion it’s well worth your time to explore how an abortion doula can help you make the most of your experience. A good doula will help you thrive before, during, and after, showing you how strong and capable you are of living your best life despite challenging circumstances.
Opening the Doors
A poem by Amanda Kingsley
This pregnancy wasn't in her vision. Not this way. Not right now. Why her.
It swept in like a storm- fierce, unpredictable, disturbing. She wondered, spun, questioned, and cursed. Fear bubbling all around and within her. Tightening, constricting.
Alone, afraid, anxious.
And then there was light. A hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen. There was love. There were tears, laughter, relief.
Her doula gave her space. Room to breathe again. A perspective on the present that wasn't so scary after all. A vision for the future that looked bright. Her doula invited her back into her own power.
And together they rose. Together they opened the door a little wider for the next woman to walk through.