Foundations of Advocacy – Keeping Your Power®

Keeping-Your-Power-with-Traci-Weafer

What if a doula did more than suggest position changes and coping techniques?  What if they could be powerful advocates for mothers, amplifying their voices and choices?

This month our team had the wonderful opportunity to train with Traci Weafer, a veteran doula and creator of the Keeping Your Power® advocacy training for birthworkers and families.  Laura and I both took this training virtually in April of 2020, and I then went on to do a yearlong mentorship with Traci.  This training changed my practice as a doula, and I am very excited for these principles to be in the hands and hearts of many of the doulas in our agency.

Why did we invest in this training? 

In their initial doula training, many doulas are taught “It is never your place to speak directly to the provider. You speak to your clients, and they speak to the provider.”  As I and many other doulas have found over the years as we have served families – this teaching can leave laboring women without the support and information they need to make choices in their births, and to have their choices be heard and honored.  As a doula who was trained this way, I did not feel equipped to advocate well for my clients.

Birth Trauma

The data from the Listening to Mothers surveys (a series of 5 major surveys done over a period of 16 years Listening to Mothers in California: Results from a Population-Based Survey of Women’s Childbearing Experiences (chcf.org)) makes clear that many women are not necessarily traumatized by whether they have a vaginal birth or c-section, or whether they have pain relief or not.  Birth trauma is caused by women not being heard, not having the ability to consent to or decline things that are done to their bodies, or by feeling pressured to make decisions without adequate time to process risks, benefits, and their own values.   Birth trauma is caused by women feeling like they had been pushed into interventions they didn’t believe were necessary.  Ultimately, women are traumatized by not being able to control their own intimate, sacred experience.  When a woman’s waters are broken without her consent, or she is forced to push on her back even though she wants to be in a different position, or she schedules an induction or a cesarean section because she is made to feel afraid after an ultrasound says she has a “big baby”, these are situations that can cause emotional distress including depression and anxiety, and sometimes women characterize them as traumatic.  Unfortunately, these are all situations I have personally witnessed as a doula.

Advocate Doulas

Keeping Your Power® equips us as doulas to address our own biases, continually center our clients’ needs and values, and facilitate conversations with the birth team to 1) ensure that our clients are getting the information they need, and 2) that their voices are being heard and honored in the process of making choices for their birth.  As Traci says in the training, “Advocacy does not equal animosity,” and our doulas are trained and equipped to help everyone on the birth team be on your side for your birth.

Keeping our power – as doulas, birth advocates, and vital support – helps our clients keep their power as autonomous individuals who have values that can and should be respected in their birth experiences.  We grow in courage and in skill as we continue to put these principles into practice.  Eugene Birth and Family Doula Agency is committed to advocacy, and we are learning and growing alongside the families we serve.  Contact us today to connect with a doula who can provide all the traditional elements of informational, emotional, and physical doula support – and who is equipped to advocate alongside you as well.

Tiffany Grantom Doula

by Tiffany Grantom, Founder

Tiffany has been a birth doula for over six years, and a childbirth educator for ten. She became a Spinning Babies® Certified Parent Educator in 2019. Tiffany is passionate about preparing families to understand their options and to feel supported and empowered to make the right choices for them.