Don't Touch Me!
A doula helps a woman give birth. A doula coaches, comforts, encourages, supports, and empowers.
Cilvia Calderon and Arely Perez are doulas at Maple City Health Care Center. Both women completed doula training and helped with births.
“The training was hard,” Cilvia reports. “For four days, we started at 5:30 each morning and didn’t get home until 10:00 at night. Then, we still had homework.”
“We learned hundreds of ways to help,” Arely adds. “I was surprised by the complexity of the task of giving birth.”
“Beside the physical stress, there are mental, familial, and spiritual aspects that can either help or hinder.”
Since the training, both Cilvia and Arely have helped with births. “I work as both a doula and an interpreter,” Cilvia says. “The jobs overlap. As an interpreter, I build a bridge between medical staff and the woman giving birth. I know both cultures and so I can help people understand each other.
“One of my patients had a history of short labors,” Arely recalls, “so when I went to the hospital at 4:30 a.m., I assumed I would be home by 7 or 8 that morning. But after 4 hours of contractions, my patient was frustrated and worried. I was massaging her hand. She yelled, ‘Don’t touch me,’ so I stopped.”
“Then she yelled, ‘Touch me, touch me,’ so I started again.”
“She was in labor 14 hours and I was there the whole time. The next day, my shoulders, arms, and legs were sore from massaging and moving her. I can’t imagine what she must have felt like.”
Cilvia notes the quality of her relationship with her patients. “With many women, I feel like I have known them forever.”
Both Cilvia and Arely acknowledge that being a doula is hard work and scary at times, but they say they feel privileged to be a part of such an important event.
“After it's all over, I sometimes cry,” Arely says. “It’s a very emotional time.” “In Spanish, when we talk about giving birth,” Arely explains, “our language is about stress and illness.” We say, ‘Me voy a aliviar’or ‘I’m going to be healed’.”
“My task is to help birth be a joyful, natural, and rewarding event for the family and a healthy start for the baby.”