March 22-28 is World Doula Week.
As a trained birth and postpartum doula, I've had the incredible privilege of supporting families throughout the birth process and in postpartum transition. Though I no longer attend births or offer in-home doula care, the nature of my psychotherapy practice supporting families in the perinatal period allows for fluid integration of my doula skill set. In fact, it is because of my interests in adoption transitions, reproductive health, and perinatal mental health that I became a doula. In the therapeutic context, I have been able to offer my clients additional support around birth preparation, infant care, and postpartum planning and recovery. Anticipating needs and creating a plan of support is risk-reduction, so doulas can be a wonderful supplement for families coping with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. Doulas are well-situated to meet the needs of each individual holistically. Our focus in the context of doula care is to trust our clients in making the best reproductive health decisions for themselves and to support them without judgment along the way. We also aim to work collaboratively with all other care providers (in any setting) so every family may have successful, well-supported, and empowering experiences.
In this work, I have come to know a phenomenal community of Full Spectrum Doulas. FSDs strive to "bring the doula model of care to people across the full spectrum of pregnancy experiences, including abortion, adoption, surrogacy, miscarriage and stillbirth." Each family's experience with pregnancy and fertility is unique; and full spectrum doulas understand that pregnancy loss, abortion and adoption are a part of the pregnancy/fertility spectrum, too. I am so grateful for their advocacy and for the presence of a full spectrum collective, Calyx Doulas, in the Portland area. Given our robust local doula community, there are too many to capture in this short blog post, but here's a snapshot of additional resources if you're looking for doula care: ABC Postpartum Doula Service, Cascadia Birth Services, Renaissance Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals, CAPPA, DONA. Also, Birthingway College of Midwifery has an accessible Labor Doula Program for families that meet certain income guidelines. If none of these work for you, ask around! It's important you find a good fit for you and your unique needs, and you know better than anyone who is best suited to support you along the way.
To all my radical doula-sisters who create and hold space for comfort, pain, complexity, joy, loss, triumph, uncertainty, surrender, and love, I wish you a restful and magnificent World Doula Week. And to all the parents and families who bravely let me in, who share with vulnerability, who trust the care they have chosen, who are experts, individuals, nurturers, courageous wellness-seekers, survivors, and so much more, I thank you for everything you have taught me.