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I've Been Doula'd - Amplify Austin 2017

I became a doula August 2015. It all started with binge watching Call the Midwife on Netflix, finding that I get really weepy during the birth scenes, and thinking that I needed a change in career. Since then, I've attended 11 births with no slowing down in sight.

Because of your support, I want to share a bit of my story with you.

Photo used with permission.

After attending my first birth, I realized that I needed to go to a formal doula training. My doula soul-mate, Tamara, invited me to go with her to San Antonio so we could officially start our journey together. It was a 3-day workshop and I was overall feeling like a badass for having one birth under my belt already. On the third day I woke up a little nauseous. I thought it was coffee withdrawal and decided to white-knuckle my way through the morning until we toured the local hospital. I developed a headache during the tour and another workshop attendee gave me some ibuprofen. Nothing helped. We got back into the car to leave and I had to put my head down between my legs. I was turning green. I tried to stay quiet so that my two new doula friends could chat and hopefully forget about me in the front. Suddenly, I pop up in a panic. The cars speeding past either side of us on the highway didn’t help. I felt a welling from my stomach up to my chest. Despite relentless effort, nature won. In what some might call a cherub-like fountain, I gracelessly started to retch. In a panic, I grabbed my backpack. To my dismay, I over packed it and the contents of my belly ricocheted back all over me. When finished, I looked up. To my hurled horror, bits of my mess speckled the backs of my new friends’ hair, arms and shoulders. A wave of apologies followed.

However, if you are ever going to throw up in front of anyone, it should be a doula. Luckily, I had two. They started working the doula magic we all learned days ahead, “Ohhhhhkay, we’re going to roll down the windows now. Evvvvverything is going to be ohhhhhkay...” All with a soothing, non-judgmental cool.

They doula’d me back into feeling human again. They turned a humiliating, terrifying experience and made me good and whole. This moment epitomized what a doula is and defined my own practice. I found my people. I knew I was starting something momentous in my life. And, of course, every important moment in my life is prefaced by at least a little vomit. It was radically validating.

Photo used with permission.

I want to acknowledge that I couldn’t have made it this far without those women in the car, or the rest of the women at the workshop. But it all started with my village (you!) raising this doula (me!). It takes an incredible amount of support for a doula to do this work. From Chuck, who is willing take over the household while I’m gone for unknown lengths of time. From my co-workers, who support my grogginess when I return to work following a birth. From my friends, who have confidence that I am following the right path. From my family, who raised me to have a sense of curiosity and compassion since I was kid. From the past few years, where I lived my life in gratitude until now where I am doing something constructive with it.

Photo used with permission.

One outlet for my doula energy is Giving Austin Labor Support (GALS). It’s a wonderful community of women who volunteer their time to support families who want a birth doula but, do not have the financial means. It’s through this group that I realized the amount of dedication doula work takes and I feel supported through them to take the challenge.

GALS is 100% volunteer run. We are able to provide $50 stipends for each birth attended by a GALS volunteer and we have several well established programs such as:

  • Travis County Correctional Complex, providing fresh produce and childbirth education to our community’s incarcerated population.

  • Free prenatal and labor support for families working with Any Baby Can.

  • Free prenatal and labor support for families receiving any government assistance.

  • Providing low-cost doulas if a family can budget for one.

  • Continuing partnerships with Seton Hospitals in the Austin area.

Our future projects include:

  • Providing 2 scholarships for Spanish speaking doulas. 35% of GALS clients are Spanish speaking.

  • Expanding partnerships with more area hospitals.

  • Prenatal programs designed for teen families.

Our stats are impressive. While the rest of the country has a 33% C-Section rate, GALS clients are down to 14% since 2009. Our clients are shown to reduce the use of common medical interventions such as Pitocin, epidural anesthesia, and medical induction of labor compared to the national average.

Today is Amplify Austin. It is 24 hours of giving to local non-profits and GALS is participating with a $5,000 fundraising goal. If you’d like to donate to this group then follow this link below. I know the families we serve would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks for your time and much love to you all, my village, Julie Le

A special thanks goes to Jessica Cloud, Ashley Snyder, Lacey Perez, and Megan Snyder for allowing me to use these photos. Please do not re-use or redistribute these images without permission from Mama Fox Doula.

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