9 Things I Learned About Parenting From Being a Doula


Post by contributor, Dea Daniels

This week, I had the privilege of attending two births. While my role was quite different with each mom, both births were challenging and beneficial. They were beautifully unique with exceptional labouring women, supportive partners, and gorgeous babes. Again—thrilling!

Lately, upon returning home to my own babes after the births, I have noticed a change. My tone is lower. My words softer. My reactions more measured and direct. I was doula’ing… my children! And…it was working!

That first evening home I tucked in and really thought about it. What was so similar between the labouring women and these wildling children? What had changed within me? Why was it working?

I came to the following conclusions:

1. Our children are labouring

Every day, whether we realize it or not, our children are expanding, wrestling, agonizing, advancing. They are working towards new concepts, personal philosophies, physical development, spiritual awakening. It is difficult. At times, it consumes them.

If we are to doula-parent our children, we need to recognize that they are in process. Forcing them to move beyond their season will lead to suffering. Everything is in motion. The journey takes time.


2. Parenting is a hands-on calling

When we doula-parent, we are called to be involved. To get dirty. To step in when needed. To be strong, even if it hurts. To know when to apply pressure and when to back off (and to not take it personally when that line is in motion).

As a doula-parent, we model methods of embracing pain instead of escaping it, of opening to the journey instead of shutting down, of becoming weaker to discover our strength.

Then, we may enable others (the spouse, the guardian, etc) to participate with these guided and effective points of influence so that everyone in the team is working together towards a common goal.

3. It’s not about me

One of the worst things a doula-parent can do is claim the harvest and all the glory and credit due. It’s never about the support person! It’s about the laborer and the fruit of the labor.

Be present…and invisible. Do the best job possible…and don’t sulk when you are not crowned with many crowns. Be willing to do the menial tasks, the grunt work, and the behind-the-scenes foundational tasks which, in the end, are essential.

4. Breathe

“Deep breath in through your nooooosseeeee…annnnnddd…ouuuutttt….”. As a doula-parent, we are teaching our children to breathe.

For me, teaching others to breathe has been exceptionally productive in re-learning to breathe myself.

For parents who have ever struggled with anger or yelling: stop and breathe. It’s so simple, but if it can help a whole human exit another human than it’s got to have some benefit!

Teach your children. Learn yourself. Breathe together and learn to be a person who knows your temper and can feel your own heat without causing harm to others.


5. Go for the laugh

It’s amazing how laughter can lift pain. Be the silly one. Be inappropriate (um, appropriately). Remember that laugh-lines are so much more attractive than the edges of a frown…and they will mark the history of your responses for years to come.

6. Use low tones

A catch-phrase I have started using with labouring mamas is, “Bellow like a cow, don’t buzz like a bee” (it’s not supposed to sound pretty!).

The sum is that low, calling sounds are centering, calming, and invite openness, whilst high-pitched tight sounds create tension and blockage. It is entirely possible to be effective, even stern, while keep your voice low and steady.


7. Don’t be shy

In short: get over it. As a doula parent you need to be willing to ‘go there’. Ask the questions. See the sights. Check the bucket.

I’m not just talking about vomit and vaginas, I’m talking about the really startling stuff: the hard questions, the blaring truths, the “that’s MY kid?!” kind of stuff.

8. Open hands

I learned something when birthing my second son: open hands support an open channel for birth. Open hands support an open heart.

Open hands invite your child into your family.  “Open the hands. Relax the jaw. Roll those shoulders back. Stretch the toes.”

When we or our children are physically undone, open the hands (and breathe). When we or they have hit the wall and just can’t go on, open…be open…open. It is in our greatest pain that we receive our greatest joy.


9. Our children are in need of support, advocacy, and hands-on direction

These labourers cannot always speak for themselves and they need to know that we are for them.

Parenting ‘experts’ are in abundance, but someone entirely devoted to their life is rare. If your child is challenged “during transition”, why should we expect a coherent response?

Who will speak for him? Where can she feel safe? Are they able to labour with you? To strip down to their soul, to groan with creation, to face their most exceptional fears? To fail?


Entering the field of pregnancy and birth is one of the most beneficial steps I have taken for my family. As I work with these women and breathe and speak lowly and work through the night and laugh and come home to my wailing boys, I know that I am called to be theirs.

I am their support.
I am the hands on their back.
I am the watchman, inviting and defending.
I am that voice reminding them that God is present in their fear.

Or at least, I am learning to be.

Spero Naturals has finally, officially, started offering pregnancy and birth services. {After months of product creation, sales, studying, redirecting, renovating, and reflecting, it’s refreshing to be back into the sphere of focus in which Spero began}. As I continue to study towards the midwifery program, a major activity is the offering of doula services, as well as natural birth education and advocacy. It’s quite thrilling!

I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.

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  1. says

    Oops, just saw that my comment linked to the old Spero site.
    The updated website is speronaturals.com
    The more personal/reflective site is wholedei.com

  2. Jeanmarie says

    Thank you for posting this…it comes at a time when breathing is needed in my interactions with my children….I wanted to stop all the yelling I just didn’t know how….now I will breathe through my fire…Thank you….

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