The term "doula" appeared for the first time in the United States in 1973. All over the world, they're called the Doulas. If the semantic is new, the doulas have been working since Antiquity, we can say that they have always existed, even sometimes not being named, they were great mothers, sisters, mothers, those who had the knowledge to transmit.
Many women have already been traumatized by their childbirth and have stayed like this, without listening, without support, without sharing or exchange to express their experience and heal from it.
Today, there is like a state of emergency around birth, as if it was something really dangerous, which absolutely needs to be mastered and controlled, as if life no longer knew how to make its way by itself.
In France, 95% of births take place in the hospital.
This act of giving birth has changed, making it forget that it is a natural, initiatory process.
It is not about refusing the hospital world and treatments when they are really necessary. Most parents don't know what is an epidural or the effect it has on the baby. Interventions such as opening the body to the bistouri (episiotomy or caesarean) have significantly increased these last years. It is a great chance in France to have real health professionals, experienced and competent to take action if needed. But the phenomenon of automatic medicalization, almost unavoidable, prevents the knowledge that one carries in her body, a know-how, and the learning offered by physiological and natural labor.
This body became unknown and foreign, in which we have lost confidence while it is the most valuable tool and it is made for that!
Many books, websites, applications exist to inform and answer technically to all questions surrounding birth process.
Knowledge is unlimited: the weight of the baby, its sex, its genetic heritage. Which bed or seat buy to respect its motor function development? So many answers without space to meet the individuality of each family and their needs. Without listening to a single time their deep desires, their inner wisdom, their potential and their limits.
The doula is here, in this specific place.
The motivations of this future family calling her are numerous and varied.
In the huge number of special cases, we normally finds this desire to be able to take the time to speak, to be listened, and to get out of the state of emergency.
And the doulas are here.
To define her, it is better to speak of qualities rather than skills, because it is a matter of a way of being.
She's the missing link for a humane birth today.
They listen to everyone, regardless of religious, political, social, or sexual affiliation, without judgment for their choice but truly at the service of respect for the identity of each family and their physiology.
The doula looks for the right tools with the parents, it is the one, who accompanies in the choices.
A main quality of the doula is to remain a woman of integrity to not influence.
She remains available at any time during the first year of birth, her commitment being ideally from 32 weeks of pregnancy.
This will take the form of home meetings, ritualized as a follow-up. It is then a global accompaniment. The themes proposed during these meetings are decided together with the parents: the choice of the birth place, the place of the father, being mother, how to feed her child, etc.
The doula must remain humble to the theme, conscious of her limits for the good of the parents and also her own one.
The encounter can also be hold in a place the doula has at her disposal, or at a midwife, or virtual and temporary (Skype).
We also see collective workshops facilitated by doulas coming out so that parents can project themselves in their future life with a baby.
The doula is an answer to a need, she brings tranquility and calmness.
She protects privacy.
She gives assurance.
She enables the free expression of the sensitivity of the father, the mother, of our humanity.
Her generosity manifests as listening.
She's here to help the woman in labor.
She is a guardian of life who makes her way.
Leave the time for baby to arrive, at the rhythm of the body.
When giving birth, time stops and the woman is in another space, and, as in any initiatory ritual, there are steps of letting go to move on. The woman in labor then needs support, softness, confidence and listening to overcome them.
The doula guides the woman to give birth without fear, to stay in her bubble, to release the hormones necessary for the proper run of the birth.
She also reveals all her abilities to the partner: a pillar, a shield, a guard and many other facets.
To make this passage of life a nourishing memory for parents, what a beautiful mission!
Every doula has her color, what I mean is that she will bring what she is, what makes her unique to a family, who also has its own colors.
Some are more into yoga, other into massages, or singing... And the future family will feel comfortable according to their individual expectations.
It is a mutual choice, the story of an encounter.
A doula is a subtle, sensitive and very pragmatic accompaniment for the women, the men, the couple.
Between the backstage and the front line, here is how sways our place today in France!
She helps to anticipate the return at home in a new organization.
She will often be assimilated to people care, because she can also be a domestic support such as doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, babysitting the biggest ones so that the mother takes time to welcome this baby.
The doula advances her career by networking and can be the relay to introduce local protagonists of the Leche League for example, she can link up several moms to exchange their experiences, direct you to a health professional, etc.
And to refine this portrait, it's important to say what she's not.
The doula is not a midwife and cannot replace a midwife, she does not take action for medical follow-up. She's not a coach, nor a psychologist, or a social worker.
But how do we become doula?
In France, the doulas are informally accepted in some maternity wards. There is no APE code (a number to classify companies) regarding the doula coccupation, so no recognition of the labour code.
It is a real challenge and a long-term endeavour for the profession to be recognized. Some are declared as a liberal profession, which also explains the differences in hourly rates, from 12 to 80 euros.
Since 2006, an association, " Doulas de France" has been working for this change, ensuring that they have their place among the protagonists who gravitate around tbirth, by committing to respect its ethical charter in their doula activities.
There is a list of "Doulas de France" where some doulas are registered. The others train with Liliana Lammers and Michel Odent, or others will prefe flavors from Quebec like the training offered by Isabelle Challut from Pleine Lune Centre. There are other trainings, and I don't know them all. If the transmission differs, the message remains the same.
Our world is changing, and it is daily and in our habits that we can act to make it better. Responsible consumption, regenerating food, conscious relationships, kind education and a happy birth.
A child welcomed with gentleness, humanity, freedom and responsibility will have good foundations for this new world to build... It is all this hope the doula conveys.
Article written by Aurélie Viard for the magazine Bio Contact n°295 - November 2018