New Beginnings Doula Training

New Beginnings Doula Training
Courses for doulas and online childbirth education

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What does a Doula do?

I just wanted to repost this.  I don't even remember where I found it ,but  I really liked it a lot. Speech by Patrick M. Houser

DOULAS: Serving Humanity

In 1952 British author, anthropologist and humanitarian Ashley Montague wrote:
“Women are the mothers of humanity; do not let us ever forget that or underemphasize its importance.
What mothers are to their children, and to others, so will men be to men.
Women must assume the full birthright of motherhood.”

We are here today to honour women, women who serve humanity. A 1995 film called First Knight characterizes the Arthurian legend of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. In this version the fabled, circular table has an inscription carved into it. It reads, “In serving each other we become free”. So, as I see it, we are here to celebrate freedom; freedom to support and to be supported when the very foundations of the family are being laid. The primary role of a doula is to be of service to parents, and by proxy babies, during the most impactful period in the individuals’ and the family’s life.

Personally, my passion for birth was ignited by the births of my own children. The first was a significant challenge and awakened my need to know more. I received my second son from his mother underwater, in 1980. This was the first waterbirth in the US. I have supported numerous births since. I have listened and learned from birth and birthing mothers. I listened to mother’s timing and I learned not to try and fix what does not need fixing. All fathers need to learn these lessons, and more. They also need to be supported to feel safe with birth and doulas play a valuable role in this. Professionally, I gratefully work to support parents and professionals toward a more satisfying experience of the birthing time.

The family has just come through the most transformative era in history. In 1975 fathers spent an average of 15 minutes a day with their children. By 1995 it was 2 hours. That is an increase of 800%. During this same time frame fathers’ attendance at the birth of their children rose from small numbers to nearly 90%. These renovations in the family have occurred almost entirely without societal support. There have been virtually no gender specific dad’s classes on offer to assist men in their understanding of, or integration into, the birthing process. In addition, birth professionals and educators have not been provided with a class during their training called, “Fathers-To-Be 101…what to do with the bloke in the room”.

In 2006 Elmer Postle and I conceived Fathers-To-Be to help remedy this situation. We choose the primal time as the focus for our initiative. At that time, I knew I needed to do some research in order to feel the cultural pulse of fatherhood and fathers’ role. I fired up my trusty PC and invoked the greatest Oracle of our time, Google. I typed into the search field our reference for expectant dads, “fathers to be”.

The ‘Wizard of the Web’ responded with a most shocking, albeit excruciatingly truthful reply. “Do you mean mothers to be?” Google knew I was seeking information about expectant parents but had no reference what so ever for the male of the species. It was like I had misspelled my query…or worse… that no such person existed. The truth however is that society was not embracing expectant fathers.

As I explored this phenomenon further I discovered that virtually all websites, as well as printed literature, regarding birthing culture such as; pregnancy, birth, midwifery, childbirth education, government policies, hospitals and conferences were all the same. The one thing they all had in common, almost without exception, was that they neglected to use the word father.

Some of these important information sources, for parents and professionals, alluded to fathers by using euphemisms such as “the rest of the family”, “other family members” and ”birth partners”(who could be of course be various people). They were neglecting half of the birthing family and as such denying the experience fathers were having, by not naming him.

Research shows that unless the word father or dad is used a man will tend to not include himself. How can a man find himself in this incredibly female world unless he feels welcome? I have written an article called, “Go Ahead…Use the F Word…FFFF Father”. It is available on our website A brief 3 years on and Google has upgraded its feedback. Check it out for yourself. Some progress has been made, much more is needed. I encourage everyone to scrutinize your websites and literature to see if you think fathers will feel welcome and included when looking for information to support their new family.

The result of this state of affairs is that our families, and ultimately society, are operating under a handicap. I see doulas as a possible bridge for the family. A viaduct between the highly challenging and medicalised environment mothers and fathers find themselves in, and the love parents are aiming to give and receive as their child is being born. Parents are doing it together. In addition, for the majority of mothers, a significant key for her successful pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding is the care provided by the father.

Doulas, in essence, have always been part of birthing culture; they used to be called mothers, grandmothers, sisters and best friends. However, trained, professional birth attendants are relatively new. Perhaps there is potential inherit in this detail. As doulas influence the environment of birth new policies and practices will be introduced. I think an element of this could incorporate support for fathers, the missing link in the family system. In addition, all midwifery, childbirth educator and doula training courses, and continuing education programmes, could incorporate significant elements of fathers’ awareness into their curriculum. Fathers-To-Be provides these consulting and training services.

A father’s participation during birth can be highly advantageous for the labouring mother. When a couple’s relationship is loving and its sanctity preserved and supported, they are a virtual oxytocin generator. However, fathers can also be a significant impediment if they are ill-prepared, do not understand and embrace their role, or are afraid. Gender specific educational programmes for expectant dads, father to father, are a crucial and necessary element for insuring strong and lasting foundations for our families’ structure and legacy.

Doulas typically practise whole family support. They give loving attention during the birthing time when and where it is needed and I salute them.

And so we are here today to recognise the Doula UK, Doula of the Year. By acknowledging one person in a particular occupation we celebrate everyone in that profession. So let’s celebrate all doulas and childbirth professionals today. Let’s recognise ever increasing numbers of those who know the value and importance of bringing our children into a world filled with love, gentleness and support; a sense of sacredness and freedom.

I spoke Ashley Montague just last night and he gave me permission to adapt his resounding words from 1952, for this special occasion.

“Doulas are serving humanity. Let us ever remember that and celebrate its importance.
What doulas are to mothers and fathers, so will parents be to their children…and their children.
We must all assume our full birthright of serving our children, and the future of humanity, in love.”

In serving each other we become free. Thank you!
© 2009 Patrick M. Houser

Patrick M. Houser is the author of the Fathers-To-Be Handbook, freelance writer, keynote speaker
and parent and childbirth professional educator on fatherhood and the family.

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Birth is a Journey: Does it have to be life changing?

  • One woman might have to climb on an overfilled boat, risking her life and nearly dying as she escapes over the ocean to come to this land. This experience could certainly be life altering. It may very well color the rest of her life, positively or negatively. (I overcame this amazing struggle and here I am triumphant! OR Holy crap, that was SO hard I don’t know if I can go on! By the way, neither response is “right”. No one would judge the woman with the 2nd response.)
  • One woman may buy an airplane ticket, sit on a comfortable 747 and fly to America with a nice smooth flight and landing. She is happy to be in America. Those welcoming her are glad she is here safe and sound. She may only travel by plane 2-4 times in her life, so it is pretty memorable. But the journey itself probably wouldn’t be life changing; it would simply be a journey.
  • One woman may learn to fly an ultra-light plane to lead a flock of geese into America teaching them to migrate. This experience could certainly be empowering and life altering.