Advanced Doula Workshop in Portugal

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Writings

Advanced Doula Workshop in Portugal

Alex and I connected for the first time around nine years ago and the reason we connected was around birth and midwifery.

We are not quite sure where and when it was that we first heard of one another but I do remember hearing via various whispered sources about this brave young French woman who was living very simply on a very isolated farm in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, and who had chosen to give give birth unassisted to her first baby.

(You can read the story of Alex’s second birth, also a free birth, outdoors in the Eastern Cape, here).

Alex and I first chatted online. I was pregnant with my third child. We discussed our births and shared our dreams of one day becoming midwives.

Alex was the first person to ever tell me about Lotus Birth and highly recommended I try this for my next birth. I imagined birthing in a room filled with scented flowers, visualising myself opening like a flower for the sun to birth my baby. I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed to find out that all a Lotus Birth required was not cutting the cord of the baby and waiting the 5-7 days for the cord to naturally fall off.

Alex, along with her husband Yan, and their good friend Ole, pioneered the intentional community Khula Dhamma, initially founded on Vipassana principles.

Over the years, our families met regularly, both in Cape Town and at Khula Dhamma and needless to say, Alex and my conversation would steer towards birth and midwifery. We shared our stories and experiences and  always, we strongly resonated regarding birth and our implicit trust in women’s abilities to unlock (when given the opportunity) something deep and powerful within themselves.

Four years ago, Alex and her family left South Africa and lived in Brazil for two years before finally settling in Portugal.

Alex has been inviting me to come and visit for a long time and when she heard I was going to teach in Spain she invited me to come and teach some of the doulas in her area too.

So after my ten-day teaching stint at De-a-luz in Spain, I traveled on three busses to the Algarve in Portugal.

So this last weekend, doulas from Portugal came and we discussed mostly our experience of birth(amazing how birth-y people never seem to tire of this subject!), spoke about creating the optimal environment for a a fetus ejection reflex and physiological birth, and learned some skills around resuscitating babies as well as some basic but essential obstetric emergency skills.

The question was asked as to why these would be skills a doula should learn since a doula’s role is to provide non-medical support to the mother.

The answer is quite simple:

The World Health Organisation states that one million babies die each year from birth asphyxia (an inability to breathe at birth) and recommends that every birth have an attendant skilled in neonatal resuscitation. If you are attending births regularly, you may find yourself in a situation where a baby is not breathing, or where a mother is bleeding more than usual, or has a prolapsed cord…You may be alone with her, or you may be at a home birth with a midwife, or driving in a car, or even be in a hospital. You may be the only one who can deal with that situation right then and there before the mother and baby can be transported to hospital, or you may need to assist, or you may just need to support a mother and her family during one of these situations without panicking.

See it as birth first aid.

The workshop was well received and there is talk of inviting me back next year.

So watch this space!

Obrigada Portugal – I had a great time.