Have you ever heard, or even said:
It would be great if we didn’t need doulas
I wish we didn’t need birth plans
Like ‘leave your dignity at the door’, these statements are not quite what we think they are.
What would it look like to not need a doula?
would this mean a supportive partner? a dedicated care provider?
and why do we need birth plans? Is it because the system hates us? or because we want to understand our options and be able to share them?
Are we really saying: I wish we didn’t have this system? or I wish the system was supportive and I had the knowledge and understanding. We can hope for a benevolent dictator, but as long as we have this system, we will not have a world where women are honoured, matrescence is acknowledged, and Mothers are revered.
We need doulas because we need support. These were once the ‘god sibs’: sisters, mothers, and community women. We need these women because they have walked the path before; they are the ‘old wives’; they know when all is well and provide support if it is not. They can sit in the world between beginnings and endings, birth and death, for this is the point in the cycle where they meet. They know the rhythms and have the patience, the care and nurture needed: they are the core of our humanity.
We need plans because plans give us hope; they give us direction. They build our knowledge, and they prepare us for The Journey. This is why I call them Maps. Because it is a journey, we are not building something or preparing for something completely knowable. We are preparing for a journey. This is a journey of Us, not of The System, so we need to know how we will navigate the landscape we are in. If that is The System, then we must understand it in ways that give us the confidence to know where we are, why, and how to move forward. We do not need to have a medical degree; we need to know ourselves and our values and build confidence in ourselves so that should we recognise we need the skills of The System, we can boldly go and welcome their skills and trust them to manage the situation.
And even if the system did miraculously become woman-centred, The birth map is not about the system. It is about embracing Your Journey. Any system that would disregard the need for a map is not one seeking to listen to individual women or support their unique journey. Creating a map is a process of conversation and building mutual understanding. A map may be a song, an image or a memory prompt; whatever form it takes will be meaningful to those who created it. This is why mutual creation collaboration for all involved in the journey matters. For some, the map will be like meeting minutes, showing the action points. For others, it will be an elaborate construction detailing critical needs and incorporating a celebration of the journey.
There is No One Way.
Preparing for this journey means preparing for No Matter What. Matrescence is a massive journey – more than the pregnancy or birth. Your birth map needs to consider at least the year beyond the birth. The only constant in the first year is change. It is a time of rapid growth – for the baby and Mother. It is a time of flux. Our relationships must shift; we may find our community alters and our views, our values and needs are changing. This growth is intense and magnificent; it can be scary and exciting and hold grief and joy.
A world without doulas and birth plans is a world without diversity. It is a world where there is One Way.