It's the end of the year, the time where I should be getting together all of my birth statistics from 2016, but I'm not going to do that. I don’t even keep track of the stats of the births I attend! It does myself and the agency I work with, Eau Claire Doulas, no good to record how many women I’ve supported who’ve had vaginal deliveries or cesarean births.
When I am asked about how many women I have supported who have birthed ‘naturally’, the question doesn't exactly make sense.
As a doula, it is not my job to try to control the outcome of a birth.
I support all types of birth, whether it is a planned cesarean, unmedicated vaginal, emergency cesarean, vaginal with an epidural... I am ready and willing to provide non-judgmental support for any woman I can.
Each and every labor is different. If I were to keep track of the birth statistics of my clients, I wouldn’t be able to put them in boxes anyway. It’s impossible to categorize the experiences of the families we support, it simply cannot be done.
There are too many grey areas and details to consider.
What about the client who planned to have a water birth at home but had to transfer their care because of unforeseen medical circumstances? Or the client who planned a repeat cesarean birth but went into labor early and delivered their baby vaginally ahead of schedule?
I wouldn’t even know which parents to count.
I support so many more women other than just those who are labor clients. I offer antepartum doula support, where I assist parents before their baby is born. These clients might not want a doula during their birth experience, but the help I give them during those first nine months are equally valid. And what about the parents who don’t want a doula during any part of their pregnancy, birth, or postpartum time? I am Eau Claire Doulas’ leader in placenta encapsulation. Those parents rely on me to prepare their placenta capsules in the safest and most convenient ways available, a service that’s in high-demand yet has limited options for professionals who provide it.
And that is just our clients, I also support our community in the Chippewa Valley.
I organize and run support groups for local parents, available through both in-person meetings and 24/7 online. For these parents, this groups are beloved, safe, places for them to express their frustrations, struggles, joys, and milestones without fearing judgement.
I meet countless parents where they are and give them the support that they need.
You can’t put a number on that.
Next time you research the birth statistics of a doula that you are interested in hiring, please remember that every labor and birth is different. There is no 'right' way to have a baby and, if you have the support you want and need, isn't that more important than knowing how the strangers before you gave birth?