During the week, I split my time in three ways:
1. On weekends and evenings, I work privately with wealthy expatriates and Indian women, conducting about one prenatal visit per week with each client. I also attend the prenatal classes of Delhi’s only two childbirth educators.
- I am supporting three clients who will be giving birth in technologically sophisticated private hospitals; although the price of technology is frequent pressure to receive an epidural and interventions that often can create additional complications.
I keep detailed prenatal records, write meticulous birth stories, and photographically document prenatal classes.
2. One to two days a week, I volunteer in the labor room of a government hospital. It is an aesthetically different picture-- each bed (soiled with bodily fluids) is occupied by two
or three laboring women, who are sometimes emotionally and physically abused by the medical staff.
- I began volunteering after the physicians observed the benefits of doula-supported birth. The hospital director asked if I would conduct presentations on sanitation and labor positions/comfort measures. Since the benefits of a doula are centered on a continuous presence and a few simple techniques, my ultimate goal is to create a system wherein each laboring woman brings a female relative or friend to play a doula-like role. These support women will have access to birth tips, positions, and comfort techniques through instructions from the re-trained staff and translated/illustrated posters.
1. Three days a week, I work with Dai (traditional Indian midwives) through a local NGO.
- I am creating groups where Dai come together to discuss their past and present birth experiences. At these groups, successes are shared and problems are tackled in three ways: drawing on the Dai’s own manifold experiences; using my access to outside resources; and arranging meetings with a doctor. The structure of these groups ensures that knowledge and information flow both ways, as the Dai’s intimate knowledge of birth and their communities is a dynamic vehicle for empowerment and education. My goal is to assist the Dai in creating a “bank” of supportive traditions and medical information that will help them conquer and prevent pregnancy complications.