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Beyond Beads and Incense: The Real Doula Identity

By Doula Jen

crunchy doulaFor both birth and postpartum doulas alike, there is a certain stereotype.  Vegan, purple scarves, acupuncture enthusiast, co-op shopper, knitting needles in purse, perhaps a strong feeling or two about the modern need to shave…or not.

OK, so some of these characteristics–however cartoonish as a whole–are valid.  Most doulas have at least a hint of crunch.  And most of us have–at one point or another–joked about the stereotype, perhaps proclaiming:  I’m a doula, but I don’t compost.  I’m a doula, but I love lip gloss…no seriously, the crappy drug store kind, not just Burt’s Bees.

Joking aside, there are certain traits that make a woman a natural born doula.  Often, when I’ve trained a woman working on her certification in the field, Tory will check in with me afterward and ask, “Does she have it?  Is she a doula?”  Beyond certification, it takes a certain type to do this work.  There is an “it” factor that can’t necessarily be learned.

Doulas are wonderfully fascinating, complicated, and compassionate people.  Here is what I have found to be somewhat universally true about my fellow doulas:

  1. They hug everyone, announcing that they are a hugger (and probably also that they are a doula) as they do so.
  2. They come to friends–always–with offerings…chocolate, trinkets, coffee, wine.
  3. They are super-geek OBSESSED with childbirth and lactation.
  4. As the opportunity presents, they will always ask about a woman’s birth.  This comes before “where did you go to college” and “how did you meet your partner.”
  5. They “get” yoga.
  6. They possess a deep emotional well which over time brings forth many tears.
  7. They also have a thick skin and strong shoulders upon which they easily lay the emotions of others.
  8. They have many close girlfriends.
  9. They offer help to other moms–at the school carnival, at the grocery store, on an airplane–most likely with the blanket explanation, “I’m a doula.”
  10. They are both perpetually tired…and tireless.

Happy World Doula Week to all of our wonderful Welcome Baby Care doulas and doulas everywhere!

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