Surrender and Trust the Process

In birth, everything is connected…

⁣⁣⁣The first time I heard the words “pelvic floor” was from Dr. Rice in my 11th grade vocal performance class at Fine Arts Center. It was 2004, late winter — sometime after Valentines Day, and I was sharing that I had attended my first ever yoga class and was fascinated at the level of body awareness that I had never experienced before then. He grinned and responded that yoga was great for the pelvic floor, and so was meditation.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Not long after that, in April I experienced true surrender for the first time in my life. It was a pivotal point for me in my adolescence. I had a serious stage fright block, and this class required me to sing every day in front of four other students who were older and had more training and vocal maturity than I did. That day, after much coaching — LOTS of constructive criticism and pushing me to my limits — I was emotionally spent but fully committed to moving past this block. I closed my eyes, shut everything out but the music, and my soul became one with the song I was singing. 𝗪𝐞 𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐟𝐞𝐥𝐭 𝐢𝐭. We all knew what I had experienced — 𝘸𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘰𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳, and that moment was extremely empowering and transformative for me.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣You see, something I’ve always loved about singing is the energy work. In order to master your instrument, not only do you learn to manipulate your pelvic floor in all kinds of ways — physically and psychologically, through visualization, etc… but you must learn to intertwine yourself with the story and the emotions of the song. 𝘠𝘰𝘶 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘧𝘶𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘦𝘱𝘵𝘩𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘮𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣If you listen closely, or if you have a trained ear you can actually hear that surrender, and the result is 𝐦𝐚𝐠𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥. You can 𝘯𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘴𝘦𝘦 the energy of the sound and emotion moving through the air and exchanging with the audience. A vocalist who has experienced this sensation will never forget it.

⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣I always knew that voice was a calling for me, but I never could have imagined that it would pull me in the direction of birth. And I never really understood the depth of how connected the voice is to birth until I experienced and felt it first hand. In fact, everything I learned in the ten years I studied vocal performance I have been able to apply to my work in birth. 𝘙𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘹 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘫𝘢𝘸, 𝘴𝘰𝘧𝘵𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘧𝘢𝘤𝘦, 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘴, 𝘯𝘦𝘤𝘬, 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦, 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘪𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘢𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩 𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘫𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯, 𝘥𝘰𝘯’𝘵 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘨𝘦𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘩𝘦. Birth is just a lot more intuitive than singing. Our bodies already know how to do it. For most people, 𝐥𝐨𝐰𝐰𝐰𝐰𝐰𝐰 𝐬𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐬 engage the pelvic floor. But no matter what we cover and how we prepare, no sound is more productive or transformative than the sound of letting go. I can hear it in your voice when you stop worrying or caring about how you are perceived, 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘣𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘧 𝘪𝘯𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘮𝘰𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘣𝘰𝘥𝘺 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘨𝘪𝘷𝘦 𝘸𝘢𝘺 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘰𝘶𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳. 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐬𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐮𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐨𝐥 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐞𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐬𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Understanding your pelvic floor and how those muscles interact with your body; cultivating the body awareness that is necessary to understand how to engage and relax those muscles; studying the breath and understanding how it affects every aspect of our existence, especially our movement through birth — these are all things that we can do to prepare our minds and bodies for the moments of surrender in our births.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

Some of us flow better with the unknown than others. Personally, flow has never come naturally to me in any aspect — my husband jokes that if you watch me dance for two minutes that fact is obvious. I attribute it to the long, strong, never ending drip of Pitocin at my own entry into this world. But for me, this work is a continuous reminder of the importance of surrender to the cycles of this life. The more I study the body and how interconnected everything is in the process of birth, the more fascinated I am. And I find that most people walking through pregnancy feel the same. Resistance stems from fear, and we are hardwired to fight against discomfort. Understanding how our bodies work help us surrender our minds as our bodies take control during our births. 𝘞𝘦 𝘸𝘦𝘳𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴, 𝘸𝘦 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘳𝘦𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘷𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘸𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘩𝘢𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘱𝘰𝘸𝘦𝘳 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨.

Hiring a Doula

I am a firm believer that doulas come in all shapes and sizes.  Some of us choose to certify, and some of us don’t.  I know some doulas who are not certified, but hold more birth knowledge and experience in their little finger than many of us do in our entire bodies. I have seen doulas who took an online certification course (with no in-person training or experience required) and tout that they are experts in their field. Believe me, not all doula certifications are created equally, and certification is not the only way to pursue this work. Some doulas prefer to gain their experience through apprenticeship and community involvement rather than going through organizations like DONA.  There is no perfect path to becoming a doula.  What makes us doulas isn’t a title, it is the heart that drives our efforts to support families and bring positive changes to our communities. 

So what do you look for in a doula?  How do you know that you are getting the quality that you expect in your experience?  Research.  Just as a business owner would look at a resume, check references, and have some email correspondence with a new recruit before an interview.  Check out their website, look at their reviews on multiple platforms (Facebook, Google, and Doula Match), look into the organizations they are associated with and ask around your local birth community to see if the doula is well recognized. 

I clicked around on my certifying organization’s website and found a few lists that might be helpful when beginning this process.  Those lists are in bold and the links to more information are cited at the end of this page. 

Wondering what you should look for when hiring a doula? Here are a few key points that parents consider.

  • Training
  • Certification status
  • Experience
  • Availability
  • Services offered
  • Conversational compatibility
  • Fees
  • General instincts about having the doula in your home or private space

Another common theme that comes up during interviews is the list of questions that we see in so many mommy-blog articles.  “10 Questions to Ask Your Doula in an Interview,” and so on… Don’t get me wrong, questions are a great tool to help you narrow down which doulas you want to meet with, but the most important purpose of an interview is connecting.  Most reputable doulas list their training, experience and philosophies on their websites.  If they don’t, or they don’t have a website, this is a great time to connect pre-interview through email.  You would be surprised at how well you can connect with someone before you meet them face-to-face, and I don’t know any doula who isn’t willing to answer questions or offer a list of references ahead of time through email correspondence. BUT, more than anything, don’t forget that the interview is allllll about connection.  It is important that you feel comfortable inviting your doula into your home and into some of the most intimate moments of your life; otherwise, things can be just plain awkward during your birth. So yes, a few prepared questions or talking points are great to bring to an interview, but remember that the interview is about connection… and a long, tedious list can be more distracting than helpful in finding the right doula for you. 

Questions to Consider After a Birth Doula Interview:

It’s a wonderful opportunity to choose a doula to be a part of your birth experience! Sometimes, you just know that a particular doula is the one for you, and sometimes you need several interviews to find just the right person (or people, some doulas work in teams). These questions might be able to be helpful as you choose a doula who is the right fit for your family.

  • How comfortable was I with the doula/s?
  • Did the doula/s communicate well with me and my family?
  • Do I feel confident that the doula/s will be able to work collaboratively with my birth team?
  • What was the doula’s level of knowledge? Did one seem more knowledgeable than another? Did I feel that my questions were answered thoroughly?
  • Do I feel comfortable having this doula (these doulas) in my home?
  • If there are unexpected situations, or if I need support early in labor, do I feel confident that this doula (these doulas) can offer what I’ll need at the time?
  • Who is the right doula to nurture and support my family through this process? Did I feel a connection?
  • What does my overall intuition say?

To recap, when hiring a doula, do your research.  Not all doulas are created equally.  Learn about them and find what drives their work before meeting them.  Understand how they gained their knowledge-base and what organizations they associate with. If you aren’t able to answer the important questions through your own research, begin a dialogue via email or text. Go into your interview looking for connection, take note of how you feel, whether or not the doula will flow well with your vision for your birth, and more than anything listen to your intuition. Because any good doula can agree with me that our goal is for you to have a beautiful birth experience, and connection plays a huge role in how well-supported you feel during your birth.  You’re likely to be in a room with your doula  for a very long time.   Feeling comfortable is key.  And if you don’t feel that magical doula connection you think you should feel, I promise we won’t have our feelings hurt — we probably know another doula who might be the perfect match for you. 

The lists included above were found on the DONA International website:

What to Look For When You Hire a Doula