What is a Doula?
To me a doula is the wholistic version of a midwife. They offer non-medical support and information to parents in pregnancy, childbirth and the post natal period (the differences between Midwives and Doula’s is outlined here). The Australian Doula College says that a Doula “…believes it is a woman’s rite of passage to birth her baby where, with whom, and how she wishes. The Doula is knowledgeable in comfort measures such as relaxation breathing, massage and positioning, managing labour sensations using water, hot packs and aromas. Doula’s specialise in non-medical skills and do not perform clinical tasks, such as vaginal exams or foetal heart rate monitoring. Doula’s do not diagnose medical conditions, offer second opinions, or give medical advice. A Doula is skilled in supporting the birthing woman and her partner to meet the challenge of labour one contraction at a time.”
How is this Relevant to my Spirituality and Practice?
Well, everything I do in life somehow relates back to my spirituality but in particular, Doula-ing (I don’t think that’s an actual word but we’ll run with it) is something I see as a very spiritual act for me and the parents I’ll be caring for. I will be facilitating their rite of passage into parenthood, especially the mother who is giving birth. As well as becoming a Doula I will also be trained by the School of Shamanic Midwifery – which I believe will focus more on the spiritual side of pregnancy and childbirth as opposed to the emotional side (but both are important!).
“Midwifery is the practice, art and science of being a midwife. Midwife means ‘with woman’ and the classic role for a midwife is to be ‘with woman’ during and around her childbearing. To midwife is to facilitate, to assist someone’s learning [by guiding] the person to discover their own inner knowing through asking questions and ‘holding the space’ for them to travel within to do this.” – School of Shamanic Midwifery
In this respect along with my duties of midwifing the arrival of new life onto Earth I’ll also be trained in midwifing death and change within others eg. young girls beginning menarche, menopausal women and even those who are close to the void. I believe these skills and duties come hand in hand.
The Important of Women’s Spirituality
Under all this is the realisation that in our modern age we have neglected and to some extent tormented, the feminine in nearly all ways. Traits such as creativity, intuition, empathy, compassion, etc are seen as feminine qualities (but are not secluded to just women – remember ‘feminine’ =/= female) and are mocked as ‘weak’ ‘unnecessary’ or ‘illogical’ and therefore useless. If I may be so bold – I believe that this could be a lot of the reason why we have so many problems in our world. The domination of masculine energy within our species is, basically, initiating our ultimate downfall (extinction?). Masculine qualities such as competitiveness, independence, more logically focused and rebellious behaviours have, up until this point, been very successful methods for the survival of the species. At this juncture in our evolution however I believe that the feminine qualities need to be respected and nurtured to a point where they are valued just as much as what the masculine qualities are in our modern society.
I believe that in becoming a Doula and Shamanic Midwife, I’ll be able to help facilitate the integration of the Women’s Mysteries into our culture – creating a safe space for the feminine to emerge. In particular I hope to encourage women and girls to feel safe and important. To acknowledge the power of emotions and intuition more will, I believe, facilitate a new consciousness for humankind. One that is sustainable and fulfilling.
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