Having Faith in Our Clients, Including Their Ability to Write Their Birth Stories
If you do a little research on what is included in doula packages and you will often see a birth story or birth timeline included. Truly, a fun idea and one meant to not do any harm and to help families. Birth is often such a long event, and I can see how it would feel so helpful to have a timeline or story written out to help remember the sequence of events.
Being present at each moment is what a professional doula does. We are being hired to be acutely aware of our client's expressions, needs, emotions and desires. We are to be present, anticipating needs before they even have to be stated. We are attuned to our clients unique personalities. Continuity of support and care are very important to the role of doulas.
If I am being hired as labor support, and I am in a notebook taking notes for my own personal benefit or for a 'birth story' that is not fulfilling my role as support to its maximum potential. I do not rewrite the clients birth experience, because that is not my role. It is their experience. Anything we say could be influential and it is not our place to have any influence over their memories and recollection about their birth. When we write a birth story from our perspective, it can have an effect on our client's view of their birth. For example, we write "Mary was so brave"... what if she didn't *feel* brave? What if, for her, that would be completely negating everything she felt about her birth? Her perception is all that matters. And what if, we got a detail, *gasp*, wrong? How will that feel to a client?
I believe we need to have a little faith in our clients. They are perfectly capable of telling their birth stories to their children. And imagine how much more powerful and true those stories will come, just from the mother. Not from doula. Not from doctor. But from the woman who lived it. Children will glean much more from their birth stories when the stories are coming from their mother, full of the veracity and details that were pertinent to her.
Being present at every moment, for me, means not being in a notebook taking notes on the birth. It means supporting my client throughout the entire birth, in whatever capacity she needs. Having faith in my clients isn't only in their ability to write their birth story. It is how I approach their whole birth. My clients are intelligent and capable women, and I am there to support them as the women they are.