Why did you become a doula?
Dominque: I may not have always known it but in hindsight I’ve always taken on that role with my family and friends. After first learning about what it means to be a postpartum doula, I knew it was a role that would suit me. After getting my feet wet in the birth work world, I soon learned about the health disparities that BIPOC communities are facing, specifically with birth. Being able to support my community in this role has truly been my driving force.
Allison: After having my first daughter Addy in 2011, I was enamored with the midwifery model of care. I’ve been saying ever since that I will be a midwife in my next life-time. All three of my daughters were born in different places while supporting my husband on his active-duty military career. I saw firsthand the lack of continuity of care in main-stream and military treatment facilities. And how location and insurance make it difficult for a birth center or homebirth. It was out of these collective experiences my career as a doula was born.
Describe some of your most wonderful experiences as a doula.
D: Birth is magical! Every single time I’m leaving a birth I have a huge oxytocin boost - what we doulas refer to as a birth high. Some notable experiences have been when my clients are doubting themselves and their bodies - then, because of their support team they discover they actually have more strength than they knew was possible. That’s where the magic is. The conjuring up of strength from a space that seemingly did not exist prior to labor. What’s even more magical is when I get the opportunity to support a close friend. There’s a level of emotional intimacy there that makes the birthing space really special for me and for my client. Seeing someone you know deeply transition from pregnancy to parenthood is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
A: The moment a baby is laid on their parent’s chest for the first time, the look in the non-birthing partner’s eyes when they see their baby powerfully brought into this world by their partner. The births where unmedicated mother’s breath their baby’s right out into their arms. A gentle cesarean where the parents sang Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”.
Why do you love your job?
D: That’s simple - my clients are the best! Doula work is very much community centered. Being an active member of my community in this way has been so fulfilling. Having the knowledge and skills to better birthing people’s experiences is so rewarding. The growth I get to witness is my favorite part of all.
A: There is nothing like watching a family meet their baby for the first time. Or the great big “I couldn’t have done it without you” hug that I receive after supporting a birth. But what it’s really about, is watching the birthing person come into their own strength and power that they didn’t even know was within them to bring their baby earthside. I love human connection in its most raw form. Doesn’t get much more so than attending a birth.
How do you empower parents during the birthing experience?
D: My role as a doula is to open up my “tool box” of resources, evidence-based information, and knowledge around the transition from pregnancy to postpartum. I hold space for the big feelings that come up during this time and normalize the identity shift that comes along with parenting. Practical support is a huge piece as well. I find that when birthing people feel supported and are aware of their options, they feel safe and when they feel safe, they are able to do the hard work of birthing and sustaining another human life. I don’t give people their power, I help them uncover it.
A: I empower women with my own birth stories and of those who have birthed before them, alongside them and help them realize they will be part of the stories for those that birth after them. Teaching that birth is a normal, natural process. Listening to and trusting your own body can be so empowering, but also scary. I think it’s important to simply affirm whatever their truth is in their mind and body for their own unique pregnancy and birth. And above all else, how important it is to ask for help.
Explain how Austin is advanced compared other cities in the US in birthing services – and describe the work it still has to do?
D: Austin has a large and ever-growing birth community of people from all different backgrounds. In many ways we are able to offer community members a wide array of support options. Everything from body work to spiritual and energy support. However, we lack diversity in many aspects of the community here.
A: There are birthing places that are more forward thinking than others regarding patient care and welcoming doulas into their space, so I always tell clients to interview their doctors or midwives just like they do their doulas or other care providers. You don’t ever get a do over for your birth experiences. Your providers are being paid very well for a service, and you should be very happy with the quality of care you’re receiving.
For more information on Dominque, go to interwovendoulacare.com
For more information on Allison, go to infinityyogaandbirth.com