I've observed several different types of doulas. Business minded doulas. Free doulas. Hippy doulas. Yuppie doulas. Free thinking doulas. Religious doulas. So many different inspirational women build the beauty that is the doula community. We think of each other as sisters and send prayers, birth-y vibes, love, and words of encouragement when one of our own is attending a birth. We back each other up, talk each other through, prevent each other from burn out, hold each other accountable. The sisterhood of doula-dom is an incredible community to be a part of.
Recently, I was part of a conversation in one of my doula discussion groups that sparked an avalanche of thoughts. I began to think of the key things that made a woman a "doula." While, we are all unique, there are integral parts of being a doula that we all contain within our spirits. One of the biggest thoughts in my mind that defines a doula is a woman who has the heart of a servant. The very definition of "doula" means- the highest female servant. Looking further into the word "doula" it also can be translated to some one who willingly chooses to give up freedom, in order to serve.
While all of us are involved in birth, most of us go further in our servitude and become servants to our communities. We offer classes, support groups, some of us offer meals to families, we give input to improve hospitals & birthing centers, sometimes we clean kitchens, or scrub floors, sometimes we're just there with a hug and a listening ear. Not because these things are part of our "job" but because we choose to further others; further our communities, and in doing so we further ourselves.
I have to admit, I cringe a little bit when I hear a doula say that she is "networking." In my mind, doulas don't network, we build bridges, sometimes upon our very shoulders, in order to support the people we come in contact with. We have a heart for the mothers, the fathers, the babies, the siblings, the grandparents, the next door neighbors, the friends. We are part of the threading of a community.
In the same way a community cares for its teachers, police officers, nurses, etc. the community will take care of its doulas. Maybe the way a community cares for its doulas will look different than a lot of public servitude "jobs." But, a doula never needs to worry that she will be taken care of. Call it karma, call it whatever you like, but what you put in to something, will always return. Perhaps it won't be financially, but the return will always be worth the effort. Choosing to give up our freedom, to the servitude of our community, choosing to serve the people around us will yield great results.
And so, that being said, I do not worry about networking, or finding clients. I do not sit and fret on finances. I know the more I place myself at the feet of my city, the more I trust my community, the more plentiful the harvest will be. The women, fathers, families, the ones that need me, will find me. I will be included in those sacred moment of new life and I will continue to pour myself into those lives. Because of this, I will never feel as though I am in competition with my sister doulas. I will pour into them and allow them to pour into me. And one day, our community will be a flowing fountain.