While in Spain last year I met up with Maria Del Carmen, a Doula out of Cordoba. During our couple hours together she nursed, told stories of her Grandmother who was a midwife for fifty years in the hills of the Sierra Nevada, and also about what being a Doula in Spain is like. She also fielded calls about herbal remedies and a client who was 40 weeks pregnant and hoping Maria could pick up her youngest from school. Doulas in Spain usually enter hospitals under the pretense of "sister" or "friend" as the aren't particularly welcome. In addition only one person is allowed in the delivery room at a time. Usually this spot goes to the husband or the mother. There are a ton of similarities of what its like to be a Doula in the States but also quite a bit different. It made me feel lucky to have started out in San Francisco. Thank you Maria for all you do!
J: What made you decide to be a doula?
M: After the birth of my first daughter Mar, I realized how important it is for the woman to feel accompanied and informed of all the changes that motherhood brings. The postpartum and puerperium are relevant moments in the life of the woman, and is something that is unknown and is not given the importance it requires. I trained as Doula because I have always wanted to accompany women and I see very important that they themselves discover the power they have to give birth to their children and raise them instinctively.
J: Do you remember when you first heard about Doulas? Was it before your first baby?
M: I discovered what a Doula was when I was pregnant with my daughter, it was in the winter of 2010, and since then I have not stopped training.
J: What is it like to be a Doula in Spain? What is it like when you enter the hospital room?
M: In Spain doulas are not very well considered by the health system. It is the family or the woman who directly hires us. In case we enter a hospital, the health staff does not usually receive us well, many times we have to say that we are sisters or friends to allow us the step. This situation is changing, there are already hospitals that let us go and recognize our work, but they are very few.
In Spain public and private hospitals do not hire us directly, as they do in other countries.
J: Are the ways Doulas are perceived changing in Spain? Do you think things will be different in ten years? Or when your children are having children?
M: Yes, I trust that the picture changes with the passage of time. It is a service that more and more women are demanding, a sign that the health staff does not take care of the emotional side of birth, nor dedicate the necessary time so that they are well informed of everything.
J: Every Doula is different. Tell me about your practice and the Doulas in your community.
M: Being Doula is an attitude of life, and every doula is always renewing itself in its knowledge to offer women a quality service. There are doulas who are also therapists, teachers of yoga, reiki, masseurs, meditators, artists, photographs ... And each one usually offers according to their specialty, according to the mother's interest among us, we also recommend referring the mother to the Doula that best suits your need.
I, besides Doula, am a Gestalt therapist and I work with plants. I offer emotional support and possibility to work from therapy, and I also offer you the possibility to teach them how to make baby creams and soaps, postpartum compresses dipped in infusions, oils macerated with natural plants so that they use them both for them Like for their babies ... So they feel very satisfied because they know they are offering their baby high quality healthy cough products!
J: Can you tell me a bit about your grandmother's story?
M: My grandmother Carmen, was one of the first women in Spain who performed the academic studies of midwifery. She went to Madrid to study and studied with the teacher Consuelo Ruiz-Vélez Frías (this is also student of Frédérik Leboyer, French obstetrician writer of the book "For a birth without violence").
She was a rural midwife throughout the villages of the Sierra de Córdoba, where she worked for 50 years serving women of all classes. The rich who gave birth to their children in large and luxurious houses, and poor women who were born in the stables among the animals. She has always told the grandchildren the thousands of adventures she has lived as a midwife, for me the most surprising was a story in which she told us that she was kidnapped by "Republican rebels" to attend a birth of a rebellious woman who lived In a cave hidden from the civil guard, for her to arrive at the place they took her blindfolded, at dawn, and to return they also carried her with their eyes covered so that she did not see the road that had traveled.
J: What is your hope for your career as Doula? Where do you see yourself in ten years?
M: I would like in 10 years to simply recognize our profession and for it to be respected. It is a service that women are claiming because the health system does not value it, I hope they will slowly open their minds and let us act, since it is proven that deliveries and births are much more fluid when the woman is comfortable, informed and emotionally accompanied. I also hope that women wake up and start to trust in themselves !!