Recently I decided to become a certified birth doula. The word "doula" comes from the Greek word for "female servant." According to Merriam-Webster, a doula is "a woman experienced in childbirth who provides advice, information, emotional support, and physical comfort to a mother before, during, and just after childbirth." Aside from the fact that a man can be a doula, that's a pretty good definition. In the United States, doulas are not required to be certified; a friend or family member can even act as a doula. However, the certification process will provide me with the training and credentials I need to be a proficient, professional doula.
I am going to be certified by DONA International, the "oldest, largest, and most respected doula association in the world." There are many requirements for DONA's certification, which you can read in detail here if you're interested. For now, I am going to focus on completing these requirements: the 16-hour birth doula workshop, the 4-hour breastfeeding class, a 12-hour childbirth education series, and the required reading. I plan to take the 16-hour workshop and breastfeeding class during my spring break in March; I need to take the childbirth education series (e.g. Lamaze) sometime before that. I'll spread the reading throughout my semester. Later, I will complete the rest of the requirements--most importantly, I must provide doula service to at least three clients before earning the certification.
Now here's the best part: I am also going to read about religion and childbirth, and then I'm going to write about it in this blog. Why religion and childbirth? Well, as I mentioned, I study religion. For many people, childbirth is a religious or spiritual experience. How so? That is what I hope to find out. Blessed Events: Religion and Home Birth in America by Pamela Klassen will guide my investigation, in addition to various academic articles and my own observations through my doula training.
Keep in mind that these are just my thoughts, which are not to be confused with generalizations or medical advice. If you are interested in reading about religion and childbirth, then this is the blog for you. Alternatively, if you are interested in becoming a doula, then maybe this blog can shed light on the process. I will also try to provide links to articles and sites of interest. In the next post, I'll delve into Blessed Events. Stay tuned!