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So You're a Birthkeeper, What Does That Mean?

Updated: Jul 30, 2019


Image by Jana Rose Justus

As the Owner & Founder of Earth Birth & Breastfeeding, I provide my own brand of “Birthkeeping” services, which many women may find comparable to Doula Services. Indeed, my self-defined scope as a Birthkeeper and the generalized scope of a doula have more in common than they do not. But if you review the description of my services and my Birthkeeping contract (at EarthBirthServices.com), you may notice key differences: I do not advertise or assert to protect women from providers/systems determined to undermine their authority, power, and inner knowing. In the event that a client needs an advocate to navigate such situations, I will, without hesitation, facilitate understanding and aim to mitigate trauma through proactive, woman-centered support & advocacy. However, I am building a practice in which such deviations from my clients’ birthing autonomy unfold infrequently.


Why?


The birth community is constantly shouting at pregnant women to hire a doula in order to low key prevent abuse and foster “informed consent.” I feel strongly that this blanket recommendation misses the big picture, which is that the modern medicalization of birth sets women up for coercion, fosters abuse, and has a systemic issue providing what is needed for women to consistently make their own free choices.

As much as I respect doulas and the work they're doing, I don’t see doula work as a solution to this systemic problem. In fact, I clearly see the space that modern doulas practice within, and their popularity and trendiness, as a byproduct of the institutionalized abuse of laboring women. If the U.S. maternity care system wasn’t as globally abysmal as it is, women wouldn’t feel pressured and obligated to hire protective services to safeguard their birth experiences.

I cannot in good conscience, line women up for rountinely abusive medical care. That’s not my calling, and I’m not the right servant for a woman desiring this kind of support. Thankfully, there are many doulas who can and will fulfill that role for an expectant family, and I’m glad they exist. In my practice, I am focused solely on providing authentic support, encouragement and information to mothers and their families. I trust the mothers *I choose*, reciprocally, to work with, will recognize their responsibility, power and authority over their bodies, births and babies if it becomes necessary to champion for such. I’m drawn to serve any woman who recognizes, respects and values my unique offerings in birth, which is one of the many reason I present my experiences, education, perspective and philosophy so transparently.


I honor birth as a rite of passage and choose to serve women with the courage and fortitude required to own their experiences and choices. Ultimately, every provider and birth supporter has their own unique biases and perspective on the work they do. I believe acknowledging these biases is as important for us to know ourselves as it is for our clients to know us.

I truly believe that the right Birthkeeper, doula, midwife, etc., exists for each inquiring family, and that this work takes all kinds. There is room in every community for a spectrum of care and support offerings, and advocates for informed consent would serve all birthing families better by getting comfortable with the idea that diverse offerings in birth invite opportunity for free choice.

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Earth Birth & Breastfeeding