15 Dec And Then…She Empowered Herself
Let’s dissect the idea of ’empowerment’ for a moment.
This commonly used word is often misunderstood, as is its role within the doula/client relationship.
Doulas: Do you feel that you “empower” your clients or that you offer support as your clients empower themselves?
Clients: How do you feel about the idea that your doula may believe that she empowers you? Do you feel she should own that, or that you should own your own power?
I see daily, both new and seasoned doulas project the idea that they can somehow bestow ’empowerment’ onto their clients during pregnancy, labor, and birth, taking ownership of this power dynamic. They’ll say, “I empowered my client to have a natural birth…” or “She wasn’t strong enough to do it without me.”
Are we at Doulas Northwest the only ones who find that very backward?? Because the purpose of doula support is…support. Not power, or ownership over the client’s experience.
Take these two scenarios:
(1) Your client enters labor well prepared with knowledge and several important women in her life, each there to provide a specific element of support.
She has the goal of an epidural free birth, and is nervous as she anticipates moments of great struggle during her labor.
Confident in the support team she has created, she moves through labor with grace and determination.
Very late in labor, she stares down the barrel of a tough decision, presses on, and ultimately roars her baby out with great power and strength.
(2) Your client enters labor as prepared as she can be, well supported, and filled with anticipation, nervousness, and happiness about the arrival of her first baby.
Living a distance from her place of birth, she makes a series of decisions and location changes that allow her to labor within her comfort zone.
She moves through her labor beautifully, though with little rest. Exhausted, she finds herself facing a difficult decision about pain relief she had hoped to avoid. Listening to her body and choosing what was best for her, she elects for an epidural.
After some rest, she confidently & powerfully gives birth to her baby, with great joy and strength.
Which one of these clients do you think is more empowered?? Which one do you think has more right to say, “I did it!”
That’s right…neither. They are BOTH basking in their own empowerment, strength, and confident decision making. They BOTH did it with grace, wisdom, and on their own terms. I didn’t “give” them any power. It was already theirs.
These women inspire me greatly, and help ME dig deep to realize my own power. And I’m honored to have supported them.
Authored by Kristyn Blocher
Photo Credit: Kyna Wilson