"I'm Fifteen Years Old, and I'm a Birth Doula"
Every person has their own morning routine. For some, it’s waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed, walking the dog, making coffee and leaving for work. During my three years of middle school, my morning routine involved waking up at 5:54 am, tip-toeing downstairs in my pajamas, making a hot chocolate, and settling in front of the television downstairs for back-to-back episodes of “Birth Day” on Discovery Health before I trekked back upstairs to get ready for school. It was always so refreshing to see several births every morning so that I could carry that exhilaration with me for the rest of the day. Now a high school junior, I wake up even earlier in the morning, but instead of watching births, I use the time to study so that I can continue on the path to my dream of delivering babies.
I’ve been interested in medicine for as long as I can remember. I can vaguely recall parading around my house with a fake stethoscope and pin that read “Dr. Allie” before starting kindergarten. When I was nine, I developed a very strong interest in obstetrics and birth, and have been full-speed ahead ever since. I would constantly watch every birth show I could, checked out tens of books on pregnancy from the library, (albeit to plenty of awkward looks from staff members) and even subscribed to Pregnancy Magazine. My belief for several years was that birth was a medical event that was meant to take place in a hospital, and I thought that all cesarean sections were medically necessary and interventions were always justified. Fortunately, my opinions on the topic recently shifted from the medical model to the midwifery model, thanks in part to my discovery of doulas.
For those that do not know, a doula is a non-medical professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to pregnant women before, during and after birth. I knew that it would be extremely difficult to become a doula at the age of fifteen, but I also knew that it was something that I was very passionate about, and therefore, would inject my heart and soul into. I dream of the day where I can utilize both my skills as a doula and an obstetrician to support women in whatever type of birth they choose. I plan on supporting women who desire unmedicated births, VBACs, waterbirths, you name it. It’s incredibly hurtful to read stories of unnecessary cesarean sections, unnecessary inductions, and unnecessary medical interventions. It is my mission to improve maternity care for women by encouraging them to trust their bodies during pregnancy and birth, only intervening when absolutely essential.
I still have a long way to go before I walk across the stage to receive my medical school diploma, so in the meantime, I have found a new love in working with teen mothers. I really enjoy the educational aspect of doula work, and find it very rewarding to give moms-to-be all of the information that they need to make an informed decision in regards to their pregnancy, birth or baby care. Because I am also a full-time high school student, I can only attend births during my summer vacation since it’s impossible to predict when a woman will go into labor. The day school lets out on the summer holiday, I begin going to bed each night with my cell phone in my hand and lugging my birth bag with me everywhere I go, waiting for that one adrenaline-filled phone call. The excitement and amazement of childbirth never has and never will get old for me. Every single birth is a miracle, and I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of it.
I love what I do and wouldn’t change it for the world. I am greatly looking forward to my future in the field of obstetrics, and hopefully, being able to change the American maternity care system for the better, one mom and one baby at a time.