Birth - The Need for Community

One thing I really enjoyed about the workshop I just led in Halifax was the feeling of community among the women there. Although the participants were mostly doulas, we also had participants from other professions who were just as happy to be there, and who enlivened the activities with their own insights. We ranged in age from just a few weeks old to quite elderly. Some of us work as private doulas, some volunteer, some have a "day job", and doula on the side. It was very refreshing to see such a mixed group of people really connecting and working for a common good - of course, that particular common good being the most women having the best birth experiences.

I had an interesting conversation with a midwife in the group who was discussing program options with an aspiring midwife who now works as a doula. The talk led to the issue of bullying and unkindness within the birth community, and unfortunately it is a real problem that does not go away if it is ignored.

Because birth is so important to us all, and because most of us who work with birth are usually very busy, there seems to be a natural progression to some bad habits. It is so important for all of us to take a good look at ourselves and our beliefs and actions every once in a while. We can see that, for example, we are holding on to a belief about birth that does not apply to every woman. Or that we are being less charitable to those less experienced, by simply criticizing instead of taking time to teach. Or perhaps we feel very strongly about a certain aspect of birth, and hold on to it too dearly.

Attending birth is all about letting go of your own ego and your agenda, and accompanying a woman as she makes her own journey to motherhood. It is also about reaching out to others who are on this path, and being able to accommodate the reality that there are many of us on the path, that we all have different opinions and histories, and that the most important thing is that we walk along together with an attitude of respect.

Not to say that we can't ever disagree. Of course we can. Nothing better than a good argument. But that argument should never, ever take place in a birthing room. It should never descend to personal insults. And if there is no accommodation in sight, no agreement to be reached, then at least we can agree to disagree and continue to work together to provide the very best care for women and their families.


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