Is Kindness Disappearing From The Birth World?
More and more I find myself wondering what has happened to kindness, loving support and doulaing the doula, in the birth world. I see angry page, angry post, angry blog, after angry page, angry post, angry blog and more and more this anger is beginning to be aimed at each other – those who consider themselves most “woke” attacking those who they consider not “woke enough”.
Those “not woke” enough, posting in their defence.
The rest of the birth world either quietly (or loudly) getting on with their work of supporting women, or silenced, afraid to even ask questions.
I think about the birthing women and people we support and what they must think if they read some of the recent fiascos on the Doula UK public page and of the volunteers trying to endlessly moderate the page and the group (which I have left although I will not leave Doula UK), through these levels of vitriole, sometimes increasing, sometimes lessing.
This is not unique to Doula UK – I see it wherever and whoever people have trained with. I don’t know how many times I have had to correct urban myths around our doulas, perpetuated by other doulas and birth workers.
Doulas contact me, from all walks of life, feeling unable to access support online or to utilise social media and I wonder when the doula world became such a reflection of the coercive, bullying culture of the wider birth world we are striving so hard to change. We are amazing and a huge support to our clients, but not so kind to ourselves these days. I often ponder if this is a result of people using online platforms to address the vicarious trauma all birth workers experience at times.
My particular passions are single parents, twins, working with and for survivors of abuse and domestic violence, homebirth and raising awareness of gender based violence, through my Womens Aid Ask Me Ambassador role and threaded throughout my day to day life – I am the worst at filling in the Womens Aid reach forms because I can’t unpick my Ambassador work from what I do every day.
If I added all the things I support I would be here typing forever so I have just picked a few examples, other doulas are passionate around miscarriage support, stillbirth, breast feeding, refugee and families in need and more – in different formats, I do all of this too, so does nearly everyone else I know.
But for some people this is NOT GOOD ENOUGH – we will never be GOOD ENOUGH, or WOKE ENOUGH, because dedicating our lives to supporting women and people and changing the world one little bit at a time, raising awareness, activism, means we are not promoting, or raising awareness of their favourite cause or area.
My personal take, when the amount of work to be done feels overwhelming – is to remember when we make a change for one woman, we change the world.
I am striving to learn and to do my best and to be honest, I have been through enough that I am not scared to speak up and out – although where I am ignorant and do not know enough to speak, I shut my mouth, I read and learn and share from those better educated than me and ask questions.
No-one reads and learns when they are being shouted down, or through fear and when we have new doulas who can’t learn because of this then there is a problem.
Interestingly when I run various birth world issues past people outside of the birth world, on occassion they are horrified by the things I send them.
As far as I can see the birth world is imploding on itself – and this is not to the benefit of birthing women and people but in fact the complete opposite – all that effort and energy spent decrying each other and the resulting defensiveness, is not being spent on support.
This doesn’t mean be silent, shut up, stop speaking, I would explode if I had to do that – but education and raising each other up is one way of working that supports all, tearing each other apart is damaging us all.
To buy a “Not Woke Enough” badge – or other merchandise, look on the ALBUM on my Facebook page HERE.
When you stick your head above the parapet – someone is always waiting to shoot it off – I have thought and thought about this blog, for months, what I want to say and how to say it, however honesty is really important to me and this is my truth, if that makes people uncomfortable then they need to consider why that is and what it mirrors in themselves, I am here to support women and families – and that includes my fellow doulas and what I am witnessing is literally heart breaking for me, this is not why I became a doula.
I raise my family the best I can, run my groups, my business, work with my mentees, love my husband, do community work in our Village with Jenny from Mama Bird, and there are only so many hours in a day.
Jenny is vegan, I am not, we don’t always agree, we have a lot of the same views and a lot of different views, she, like me and all of my friends is passionate, we discuss, we debate and we disagree, we share different view points and we love each other fiercely. Isn’t this how life should be.
KINDNESS – the simplest of gestures, it costs nothing and it goes a long, long way to changing peoples lives.
Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an
experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4
children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her
facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly Doula. SOS Doula, Telephone and online support is always available.
If you are interested in writing a guest blog or sharing a life or birth story please feel free to contact her HERE.
“Your Journey, Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth“