In 2010 I began journeying alongside women as they moved through pregnancy, labor, and the first months postpartum. I had no idea at the time that birth work would ever morph into the “it” profession that it is today. Overconfident credentials and ubiquitous information seem to often overshadow the value of rooted wisdom and refined purpose.
When I stepped into the home of the very first mama I was scheduled to meet, I remember a sweet aroma in the air, jewel-toned fabric lining the windows, which casted a warm glow across the room, and being served water in an ornate glass wrapped with gold foiling.
As I reflect back on how she shared her journey from Kenya to the U.S. with me, her previous birth stories, and her desire for her current birth, I became aware that my commitment to equality in women’s wellness, skills from service as a military corpsman, and compassion grown from a third culture upbringing were going to be what rose to meet this mama’s needs. I would draw on philosophies honed from the many lives I’d lived, and collaboratively work with her to make decisions, find comfort, and create a bond.
No doula training alone could have fully equipped me to serve her in the way that she needed.
What I’ve found though is that many times doulas rest solely on information passed during a standardized training, and are disconnected from the unique spirit and soul of a what it means to be a birth worker or wise woman. In place of their own distinct passion and mission, acronyms and fad sayings take their place.
As I’ve plunged deeper into the waters of birth and postpartum work I’ve discovered that what sets each doula apart is not the letters that follow her name, but her commitment to each woman she’s blessed to journey alongside, her sage words personalized for each of her clients, and her alluring essence–which seasons her work and attracts the right mama to her.
Each professional must be rooted in their essence in order to create a genuine mosaic of birth workers.
If you are new to birth work and searching for what makes you exceptional and equipped to serve, take a moment and reflect on the following questions.
- What aspect of perinatal wellness am I most passionate about?
For example, prenatal education, nutrition, postpartum recovery…That should be the area you work to hone in your practice.
- What personal experiences can I draw from in order to better serve my clients?
Whether it be your own birth or your upbringing; use those lessons to guide you.
- How can I nurture a genuine relationship with my client?
Focus on making each of your clients feel seen, heard, and accepted, rather than being available to many women, but not truly present for any one of them.
What I hope to unearth is that what you need for this work will unfold from within you and blossom at the perfect moments needed to serve each mother. As you continue on this journey, you will transform into the unparalleled birth worker you were designed to be.
Anjelica Malone is a Lactation Educator Counselor, Childbirth Educator, & a Birth and Postpartum Doula serving women in the Seattle area. Anjelica is a former Third Culture Kid turned Global Mama, having lived in and traveled throughout the mainland U.S., Europe, Asia, Caribbean, & Guam. In 2010 Anjelica began serving as a mentor to refugee and lower income women having either their first birth in the U.S. or a high-risk pregnancy. During that time she began to see the importance of providing women with culturally sensitive and comprehensive perinatal education and support. Anjelica released her first book Milk Boss 101: The Modern Breastfeeding Journal & Guide in August 2017.