2018 will be the 15th year of defining myself as a professional doula and childbirth educator. Much has changed in that decade and a half, and yet much has remained the same. I am feeling reflective as I round the corner toward 500 births and welcoming thousands of families in my childbirth classes. I am proud to include in my experiences the more than 1200+  doulas I have trained in my role as an instructor at the Simkin Center at Bastyr Unversity. Overall, I consider myself lucky that I have been so rich in opportunity and experiences in the past 15 years. I am truly grateful.

Some years ago, I had the chance to view a presentation prepared by Anni Grauer, AdvCD/AdvPCD(DONA), BDT/PDT(DONA), LCCE, FACCE, IBCLC, RLC, where she shared some thoughts as an older, wiser doula to her younger self. She was, as usual, spot on. I share her reflections as I close my doula workshops, as her ruminations are fantastic. Her thoughts have been on my mind and as the year draws to a close, I wanted to share some of my own reflections that I wish I had known when I started this journey to support families as they welcomed babies.

  1. I am not the doula for everyone. That is just fine. I know there is a doula for everyone who wants one.
  2. Listen more than I talk.
  3. Always ask “do you want more information about that?” and listen for the “yes” before sharing any information.
  4. Your birth is NEVER about me.
  5. Say what I do and do what I say. Always. My word is my reputation.
  6. Sometimes (often) I do not have the answer.  Sometimes I cannot find the answer. That is okay. Some things may be meant to remain unfound.
  7. The person who is doing the most talking is doing the most learning. (thanks, BFF Teri Shilling.)
  8. My time and my knowledge are valuable and it is okay to be compensated well for them.
  9. My time and my knowledge are valuable and it is okay to not be compensated for them if I so choose.
  10. Just when I think I have birth all figured out, it pops me on the side of the head and laughs at my cockiness.

I could probably add several more, but instead, I am more curious about what you wish you had known when you started on this journey working with families during the childbearing year. Please share in the comments so that we can all learn and share our experiences. I am also richer for having magnificent colleagues to learn from as well. Will you share your year-end reflections with me and the blog readers?