So, you want to be a doula…
Are you looking for a course that will help you to explore your personal relationship to birth through mandalas created with organic spices? Are you hoping to learn basic dance techniques so that you can watch clients shimmy their way through labour while wearing handmade bellydance scarves? Does the idea of taking an online course where you don’t need to bother with meeting new people or being subject to providing on-the-spot analysis of topics covered in each unit appeal to you? Are you hoping to find a class that involves a two day workshop, a couple book reports, and then a certificate that says that you are now a professional?
Then this is not the doula training program for you.
The current approach to birth in North America is broken. We are living in a capitalist, colonial culture where even “natural childbirth” is technocratic and occurs in a system that has yet to fully realize the intersecting politics of suppression and oppression that permeate it. Evidence-based medicine is sometimes passed over in the name of big business. But you don’t need me to tell you that, do you? You learned it at your own birth. You’ve heard the voices of the women in your community. You feel it in your gut and it keeps you up at night. How did this sacred, intimate, animal process become a battle that people need to arm themselves for?
My name is Beth Murch, and I am the founder and director of Revolutionary Doula Training.
I’m going to level with you: I have been a doula for nearly fourteen years now, and if there is one thing that I have learned in that time, it’s that the state of doula education is total bullshit. That’s right. Bullshit. I’ve taken a rainbow of training programs, hell, I’ve even taught the training myself, and each and every time, the schooling has fallen short. Early morning yoga with your doula wannabe friends is beautiful. Watching Lamaze videos from the eighties is hilarious. Internet training allows you to tick off your requirements while your toddler is sleeping. However, my question is: do these programs prepare you for the reality of spending three days at a birth with a first time mother with an asynclitic baby with a nuchal arm? Does your trainer even know what that means? Does your program teach you what it is like to support someone through a forceps delivery with a fourth degree tear? Does it teach you how to facilitate communication between health care professionals who are bound by policy and your client, who has experienced multiple sexual violations and traumatic experiences and is terrified of the birth experience? Does your course teach you what to do and what to say when you are at a labour and the baby unexpectedly dies? Does your mentor have advice for what to do when you are snowed in and your labouring client squats down mid-contraction, starts grunting, and roars, “I’M PUSHING!!!”?
The only solution is a revolution. We need an uprising of competent, highly skilled, deeply committed, supremely professional birth workers who are willing to dedicate their lives to changing a hierarchical system of power within childbirth…but who also acknowledge that part of serving their clients is learning how to work within that fractured system and understanding that individual care providers themselves are not the enemy.
The only way I see this happening is if the world of doula training steps up their game. Enough of this nonsense where we spend two days reading straight from a manual and filling in blanks. Enough of making rainbow collages from old magazines. Enough of having uncertified, untrained, inexperienced instructors without backgrounds in adult education leading foundational workshops. If we want to be seen as legitimate professionals, then we need to educate ourselves like legitimate professionals. Let’s get political. Let’s get practical. Learning needs to be dynamic, it needs to be exciting, it needs to be rich with creativity – but it also needs legitimate content. Challenge, by nature, forces us to master new skills. Your clients will be investing in your financially, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically 100%…don’t you want to be able to say that you did the same when it came to investing in your doula skills?
Revolutionary Doula Training is going to challenge you because it is one of the most intensive, comprehensive doula training programs in Canada. It is going to make you think so hard that you actually sweat. It is going to crack your heart wide open with no excuses…but then it is going to help you to arrange those pieces into something so imperfectly perfect that the beauty will overwhelm everyone who meets you. This training is going to make you work, and it is going to lovingly force you to interact with members of your community. You will feel the burn, and you will love it, because that is the kind of devoted doula you will be…that you already are. I believe that people learn best by sharing stories and asking questions – you don’t me to read a manual to you. We are going to be hands-on, engaged, and experiencing the realities of doula work in a way that has never been done before.
Revolutionary Doula Training operates within an anti-oppression framework that believes that pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences are feminist, reproductive justice, and social justice issues. It is a training program that is LGBTQ positive and acknowledges that most doula trainings and prenatal classes are taught from a heteronormative perspective that can be alienating…and we seek to smash that paradigm. Revolutionary Doula Training is trans inclusive, and welcomes people across the gender spectrum. The voices of all communities and cultures are invited, and will be honoured. Revolutionary Doulas are allies – we acknowledge that there are times for us to speak, and times for us to listen. This training strives to be accessible to people of all physical abilities and financial situations. Experienced doulas are welcome to take this program to fill in any skill-gaps from their own certification experience, to network, and to experience other perspectives of learning.
Revolutionary Doula Training will cover the following topics (this is *NOT* an exhaustive list):
- labour doula basic training (the role of a doula, support techniques, well baby care, community resources, basic business skills)
- a brief history of birth and birthing politics on Turtle Island/in North America
- the perinatal period as a reproductive and social justice issue
- childbirth in a capitalist framework/birth as “big business”
- the science of birth – exploring the birthing process from an anatomical and physiological perspective, with an emphasis on the mechanics of an undisturbed birth
- the biological attributes, cultural significance, and potential nutritive properties of human placenta
- providing breastfeeding/chestfeeding support
- supporting various marginalized communities through pregnancy, birth, and beyond
- honouring women and trans people’s wisdom and traditions
- non-violent communication and consensus building
Classes and workshops will be taught by both myself, and experts in the community.
Are you ready to be my comrade? Are you ready to embrace the raw, fierce beauty of birth?