Doula work in the Baja
Many of you might not know, but I lived in Mexico for some time. I went through a miscarriage and delivered my first baby in Baja California. While living in Mexico, I also was around other women in their childbearing years, and I was able to get to know the birth culture in Mexico.
There are a lot of differences in Mexico compared to the U.S. surrounding birth. One major difference is that most women go through labor alone. Because they are in a shared room with other laboring women, they are not allowed to have their partner or another support person accompany then once admitted to the hospital. They labor and birth accompanied only by hospital staff and other laboring women. Pain medications aren’t much of an option. Medical personnel doesn’t get to personal either. Women are called by their laboring status, instead of their name. Asking to do a vaginal check doesn’t exist, as women are to submit to the experts and are told what will happen. Questions about a woman’s personal status or health are hardly asked, and self-learning is even less common. This means that women are left to labor, with very limited support, knowledge, and options.
For my subsequent births, I decided to go up to the states, because I wanted more options, knowledge, and support than I had received in my first birth. For my third birth I had a doula, and I knew that I wanted to work in that as well. While looking at what I would be learning, I couldn’t help but think that I would want this for women in Mexico as well. While a Spanish curriculum was unavailable, I began my certification program thinking that one day I could this information could make it down the peninsula as well. I always had my heart down here in Baja California Sur, Mexico, especially for the topic of pregnancy and birth. I had the dream of one day coming back and sharing information about doula work, so that women here are able to receive support as well. I thought that one day, I would be able to gather together local health workers, share with them the great and lasting benefits of doula support that are available not only for the women, but also for the community. And it would not stop with sharing the benefits, but actually seeing something put into place.
On my current trip, I thought I would go in a talk with a local doctor whom I knew personally about my work in case he had a patient who needed breastfeeding support. After explaining much more than I had planned about my work, he suggested that I go and talk with the director of the local general hospital, and I did just that. The following week I went in without an appointment, and told him what I do. I thought that I could go in and see about making connections, and possibly opening some doors for the future. Amazingly, a bigger door got opened than I expected. The director of the hospital was very pleased to hear about this type of work, as he had never heard of this before. He brought in a local government representative to a follow-up meeting, and we talked about how this could benefit the community. Something even better happened at that meeting. They decided that it would be of benefit to share this information with other medical professionals so that more could know about doula work.
Yesterday, January 20, 2017, I had the opportunity to share with around 25 medical professionals and some local government health officials about doula work for women in labor. They all were intrigued by the work, and plans are set to bring more information and ways to get doula work available down in Baja Sur. I am quite excited about this opportunity and to see what other doors will be opened to bring doula work to a much needed area.