The world needs more doulas in general, and my little slice of the doula-recruitment pie is to encourage more Muslim women (who have specialized cultural and linguistic sensitivities) to step up and become birthworkers. It doesn’t need to be a career, but it definitely is an opportunity and of huge benefit to our incredibly diverse community.
Here’s a piece I wrote for AltMuslimah on the issues at stake:
April 13, 2014
Giving birth is, in so many ways, an act of faith. It involves a kind of radical trust in our bodies that I equate with tawakkul, trust in Allah, the One who made our bodies. For me, being a doula is also an act of faith. A doula is someone who supports and comforts a mother in childbirth, building a relationship with her over the weeks leading up to the delivery and sometimes continuing to support a new mother in the weeks that follow.
It’s a contemporary word for a role that, prior to modern obstetrics, most women found in friends, neighbors, or family members.
I attend births in hospitals, birth centers and homes, and many of them are with Muslim families. I choose to do this because I am awed by birth, because I witness the positive effects of my support, and because I see the ways in which my work can mitigate the harm done by health care professionals who are sometimes uncompassionate, hurried and even poorly trained. There are growing numbers of Muslim doulas out there, but we need more.
Why more doulas? A comprehensive review by the respected Cochrane Collaboration, a nonprofit that independently reviews medical research, showed that doula care—including the information and emotional support we provide, the pain relief measures we use and the advocacy we perform on behalf of women and their partners—has undeniably positive benefits not only on women’s experiences of their labors, but also on labor outcomes themselves.