I got really passionate about birth while preparing for the birth of our second baby. There was a major insurance “snafu”, and we had to figure something out. Our choices basically boiled down to: Pay somewhere around $10,000-$13,000 out of pocket for an uncomplicated normal hospital delivery, or have the baby at home for a fraction of that amount. We chose to have the baby at home.
Because of the laws at the time, my midwife was unable to practice in SD, so I had an unattended home birth, and it was wonderful. The main reason, is that I was SO educated about birth at that point…so much more than my first hospital birth. Do you know why? Because I had to be. I didn’t have a choice to depend on someone else to know everything for me, guide me, and tell me what to do (whether or not it was the best thing for me or what I wanted). My husband, mom, and I had to know it, because we didn’t have a choice.
After I delivered our son on Christmas morning 2009 after a very easy, relaxed, and amazing labor, I got really involved with South Dakota Birth Matters, which is a grassroots organization formed to help influence change in our state’s laws regarding birthing options for families in South Dakota. That year (2010), there was a bill that we had put through to allow birth centers to be licensed and run in South Dakota. I was devastated when it didn’t pass* (I was really new to the whole process, and it just seemed so obvious to me that it should pass). I mean – birth centers are proven safe options for families across the country – why in the world would SD legislators think that families here are so different and shouldn’t be afforded the option?
Well, I was doing a LOT of thinking about the bill, and how so many women and families were being robbed of a wonderful and empowering birth experience simply because they didn’t know what they didn’t know and they simply didn’t have many options. They didn’t know things like:
- they can demand better service from their providers
- they actually have options – they don’t have to do whatever their provider says they should do
- they CAN trust their bodies to do what God made them to do
- they CAN birth their babies free from intervention (most of the time).
It made me extremely sad, until it hit me:
Even though I wasn’t able to help all families in South Dakota have options and be in control of their own births, I could help one. at. a. time. – all I needed to do was become a doula.
What a revelation! I have made it my personal mission to ensure that each and every one of my clients has a kind of birth that they can look back on with fondness, pride, and confidence – no matter what happens during their labor and/or delivery.
My personal childbirth philosophy is that every woman (no matter what she’s been told throughout her life) is designed by God to give birth to her own baby. Birth matters to moms and their partners. It is a life changing experience, and can be either amazingly wonderful or devastating. I believe that with the right information, education, encouragement, and self awareness, women can and will make the right decision for themselves and their baby. They just need to be given the chance. As a doula, I want to help them have that chance. I work with women and their partners before the birth of their precious baby to get them information on birth and possible decisions that may need to be made when the time comes. Knowledge is power. If they are informed ahead of time and know what their goal is (even if it isn’t what my personal goal would be), then we all can be on board and know beforehand how we can help her achieve her goals. With her partner on the same page and me helping them to advocate for themselves, together we can help ensure an experience where she doesn’t feel pressure to make one decision or another, but where she knows where she’s going, and has the tools to get there.