I spent last weekend at a training workshop so I can start a new business. This will be my first business enterprise that does not have something to do with geekdom. *gasp* Okay maybe not the first. My husband and I did run a website design business for our first year or two together that was only indirectly related to geekiness. We have also attempted to open a brick & mortar anime store (we couldn't get a loan for that one because the bank said no one liked anime), and for a couple of years, I ran an online cosplay commission business before becoming jaded with the general public. Now I have my art studio, which, btw, is not closing its doors.
So, what's this new business thing? After much thought and personal reflection and some discussion with my husband, I decided that I would pursue training to be a doula (definitely a different direction from the kinds of things I am normally attracted to doing). For those of you not familiar with doulas (I imagine a bunch of you, since doulas are not widely known of in the US), we are people who assist non-medically in pregnancy, labor, and postpartum support--I'll be doing another training workshop next month to expand the help I can offer during the postpartum period. This is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. What really bothers me about it is the amount of misinformation and general lack of information there is out there for the general public.
My goal is to help educate people (not just women) on the various options available to women and the pros and cons for each option. It really bugs me that a lot of women go in for various interventions and procedures without being aware of the risks attached to those procedures or an understanding of the actual necessity of the intervention (yeah, informed consent is often a joke here). For example, epidurals come with a ton of potential side effects and risks that most people aren't aware of including, but not limited to, significantly reduced blood pressure (meaning less oxygen for mom and baby), slowing or stopping of labor, frequently leading to a longer labor, increased risk of other interventions (vacuum extractor, forceps, or emergency cesarean section because of complications caused by the epidural), and severe headache that can last for days afterwards. I think epidurals have their place. Sometimes they can actually be a positive, and for some women they are something they will still want. My thing is that I'd like them to be able to make an educated decision. How can you do that if you don't know the pros and cons of something?
There is also a lot of statistical evidence that shows that doulas improve the overall birth experience for women along with helping to prevent unnecessary and unwanted interventions. As a doula, I will be able to help women process fears, address concerns, and prepare for their birth experience--I can't guarantee everything will go perfectly as planned because this, like everything in life, can be quite unpredictable. I can help educate women (and their families) so that when unexpected situations arrive they can make an informed decision. After birth I can help them process what happened to them and make it so they can get off to the best start possible. With the additional training I will get in October, I will be able to continue support during this period, which I think is especially important given the rise in postpartum depression and other mood disorders. I kind of see the postpartum period as the "happily ever after" of pregnancy and childbirth. So much planning and preparation goes into the birth part, and then you get your baby, but what happens then?
So yeah, that's what I'm doing in the smallest nutshell I could put it in (given how much I can talk on this subject this is pretty short). If you're interested in any of this at all, you can visit my new blog: http://holisticbirthnc.wordpress.com/. It's still a work in progress, but I'd like it to become a place where people can come to read and learn and ask questions and what not. =) If you're interested in learning more about doulas, you can visit CAPPA's website; I will be getting my certifications as a labor and postpartum doula through CAPPA.