My passion for childbirth is relatively new, compared to my love for India. My passion for India emerged at the age of seven, after reading a National Geographic article chronicling the abuse of Indian women. My dreams of visiting India materialized at the age of fourteen when I had the opportunity to ride horses through North India with my aunt. My experiences on that trip hatched an insatiable enthusiasm for India that developed into a self-organized six month study abroad followed by a month spent volunteering with an NGO.
My interest in becoming a doula was sparked by an extraordinary seminar at UNC Chapel Hill. I was stirred to pursue doula training after I discovered that birth today is often more heavily orchestrated by technology and the power politics of medicine than a women’s innate ability to accomplish the biological miracle of birth. Such impersonal facets of medicine had always made me hesitant to pursue a medical profession, so I was thrilled discover that one focus of a doula is helping women rediscover their intrinsic ability to birth naturally and provide them with the resources to make informed choices about interventions and aspects of care. It was a natural progression of my interests to merge my new passion for supporting women in childbirth with my older passion of empowering women in India. I chose to complete the experiential part of my DONA certification in New Delhi, India, as this city is a haven for cutting edge technology as well as time-honored birth practices.
I arrived in Delhi on December 7, 2007 and will be living and volunteering in Delhi until the end of May 2008. I am researching how the presence of a doula can shape the birth experiences of Indian women of different socioeconomic/castes and how the cultural backgrounds of the women I serve influence my role as a doula. Working in different caste environments demonstrates that the benefits of a doula’s comfort techniques and continuous presence are not dependent upon the availability of medical knowledge and intervention. Additionally, my involvement as a doula reveals the horrendous physical and mental abuse within subsidized maternity care and more hidden, yet equally grave, exploitation of women’s rights in private hospitals.