Bereavement doula, world doula week

It’s World Doula Week 2015

This is a week that honors doulas everywhere and while most people think of the traditional doula (labor/birth doula) only during this special week,  there are many other types of doulas out there. Each specialty is unique and doesn’t just serve pregnant women delivering living, healthy babies. How many types of doulas could there be? Let’s explore:

Labor/birth doula

Postpartum doula

Antepartum doula

Bereavement doula

Abortion doula

Sick day doula

Full spectrum doula

Death doula

These are just a few. It’s not an all inclusive list. Personally, I think it’s amazing that there are so many specialties under the name “doula.”

I have been a doula since 2004. I started out as a “traditional doula” assisting families through live birth outcomes. I served two families through a fatal diagnosis during that time but their babies were born alive and one is still living despite his prenatal fatal diagnosis. I never gave much thought to serving families in any other capacity.

It wasn’t until I lost my daughter in 2010 that I began to change my “specialty” to serve families through the loss of their baby. It takes a special person to take on the work of a doula and even more special I think, to take on the work of assisting families through such a devastating experience. This is not to say one specialty is more superior then another, just that it takes a special kind of person. And this is why you see a picture of a lit candle in between three unlit candles, instead of a doula’s touch on a laboring woman. My ministry serves the 1 in 4 women who will experience a pregnancy loss.

As a Stillbirthday birth and bereavement doula, I have training in both live birth outcomes and giving birth to death. I assist families in seeing bits of happiness in what is a very scary and sad time.  As the family prepares to birth a baby who has passed, they are simultaneously choosing a final resting place for their baby’s body.  As the family greets their little one who they will never hear cry, they are choosing a final outfit not a going home outfit.

Bereavement doulas have specialized training not only on the birth portion of the bereavement work, but the postpartum portion as well and helping the family walk their journey to a new “normal.” There will soon be Postpartum Bereavement doula training which will specialize in the postpartum work and healing with a grieving family.

So while we are all saying thank you to each other for serving as doulas, remember that we each have specialties that make us unique. The services we provide are unique. We each have something unique to offer our families no matter which way we serve them.

Welcome to World Doula Week 2015. It’s a celebration of the uniqueness we each possess and the “melting-pot” we doulas are.