Just this week I found myself conversing with a woman who is pregnant with her second child. She is considering having a doula, and had questions for me. Naturally, I asked her about her first birth. She told me she had her daughter naturally, but then proceeded to tell me about how she was induced, had an epidural, and a vacuum delivery.
It breaks my heart to hear this mother perfectly innocent and naive about birth--who doesn't understand the difference between natural and vaginal birth. Why is it that we spend so much time deciding what color to paint the nursery, but seem to put seconds into understanding birth? Why is that okay with so many? Birth education is essential to our country's health and well-being. Understanding terms like natural and vaginal are only the beginning.
It's a delicate conversation to have with this mother. The last thing we as doulas want to do is alienate or make her feel unintelligent. I know I make mistakes as a mother daily, if not hourly, and the last thing I need is guilt or discouragement. Rather, I put my hand on her arm, and with a warm smile I invited her to drop-in on one of my childbirth classes. I ask her "Wouldn't it be great to not have all those wires going in your body?" Or, to go further, "How did you feel when you were induced?" Allowing her to come to understanding, and to her own decisions is vitally important. It's the first step in empowering her in the birth.
When we as mothers and fathers choose to educate ourselves on birth, we're becoming advocates for our children and ourselves. As doulas, it's our duty to ENCOURAGE parents to educate themselves--not just rely on the doula or medical professional.