My first introduction to Doulas was the Business of Being Born documentary on Netflix. Several months later I was attending a 3 day Training in Austin, TX by a DONA instructor. I was the only Black person and person of color in the training. I had been present for a few births prior to this training and couldn't help but feel as if I was missing a large chunk of what it meant to assist a person during childbirth. I knew it had to be more than battery candles, essentials oils and the business of aspect of being a Doula. The training left me unprepared to work with people who I felt really needed a trained advocate in the room with them. Where my presence meant not only lower chances of a c-section but also decreased chances of obstetric violence, birth rape, maternal morbidity, death etc. To me, a Full Spectrum Doula is more than a day training on abortion. It's also being fully educated on racial disparities in birth and the women of color who were "Doulas" before the Greek definition. Who did this work for the survival of their community and not repeat the same capitalistic nature of health providers and hospitals. It's knowing how to navigate having a client with open ACS cases or intimate partner violence. It's providing a safe space for teen pregnancy. It's having the language to educate Trans and Gender Nonconforming people. It's having the resources for rural/abandon communities. It's knowing how to assist any and every person, advocacy.
A tradition of black, lay midwifery dating back to slavery
Mary Coley was among the last generation of granny midwives providing care to pregnant women across the rural South. These women were indispensable at a time when hospitals were often out of reach, and they have a history of service to their community. Thanks to a 1952 informational documentary filmed for the Georgia Department of Public Health, we can observe Coley at work and delight at the new lives she so carefully brings into the world. How did this tradition become completely eradicated?