4 Ways My Doula Training Transformed My Pregnancy

By Monica Carr, ASY Alumni

At the start of this year, riding on the coattails of freshly declared resolutions, I signed up for Awakened Spirit Yoga’s online doula and prenatal yoga teacher training. My top-ranked goal for the year—to conceive—motivated me. I thought it’d be a brilliant way to communicate loudly with the Universe my intention to get pregnant, by deep diving into all things birth and labor. Little did I know that by the time I took the course six months later, I had already successfully conceived. My intentions shape-shifted yet again to optimize my pregnancy and birth. 

Now five months pregnant, I can honestly say that embarking on this course has been the most valuable education on my pregnancy journey thus far. 

When I first discovered that I was pregnant, I did what a lot of expecting people do: devour information about pregnancy. From Dr. Google inquiries to my pregnancy app and random blogs penned by suburban moms, I properly saturated and overwhelmed myself with mostly the wrong type of information. 

I know I’m not the first mama-to-be that stumbled down the pregnancy-themed rabbit-hole of the internet. Of course, we are hungry for understanding and knowledge. Birthing another human is no trivial feat. If you’re in your first pregnancy like me, you may be feeling a lot of emotions all at once. Never before have I felt such excitement and terror at the same time. 

Maybe, like me, you were longing for a sense of empowerment, reassurance and direction. In so many ways, my doula/prenatal YTT training nourished these needs, as well as ones I hadn’t even realized yet I had. 

Here are some of the gifts I received from this experience:

Remembrance

I never deeply considered my attitudes, beliefs and inherited stories I carried around pregnancy, labor and motherhood until I stepped onto the fast track to experiencing all these things. Have you noticed how our modern society, media and medical systems represent these powerful rites of passage?

Laboring people are seen as maidens in distress in our present system. Somehow, we have forgotten that humankind has been birthed merely from the intuitive, embodied female wisdom for centuries. Today, we’ve been led to believe that women must be saved or rescued from labor. This is by no means my attempt at discrediting modern medical intervention. They can and do save lives. However, our practices and culture today have managed to completely erase the power and intelligence of the female body to carry, birth and care for our young, with zero interference. 

I give thanks to our human ancestors that remind us of this truth. And for this course, for re-framing the miracle that is birth. This training reminded me how capable I am, especially with the right support, to birth as so many women before I have. 

Knowledge

Remember the internet black hole I referenced earlier? The one where you are sucked down into endless conflicting ideas about “what to expect”? Arming ourselves with knowledge about pregnancy, birth and parenting can quickly lead to anxiety and overwhelm. Believe me, I was warned. So, learn from my mistakes and heed the warnings. But how do we learn to decipher and discern which information is valuable and the other base-less? 

This was the gift of my ASY doula/prenatal yoga training. Our course was led by well-studied, experienced and practiced birth workers and instructors that guided our lessons with evidence-based research. Not only did it increase my confidence but also left me in awe as we explored the different aspects of the labor phases, the miraculous and natural impulses of the body during pregnancy, and the ways women have given birth throughout history. 

Knowledge is a remedy to fear. I give thanks for the knowledge shared with me in our training, as it illuminated some of the darkness partnered with the mystery of birth. It normalized what I’ve experienced thus far in pregnancy and though I have quite a way to go to be an expert, I walked away feeling like an authority on all things pregnancy and birth. 

While some knowledge can be acquired by study and concepts, the real gift of this knowledge is that it eased some of the fear I feel when thinking about my upcoming birthing experience. It armed me with the self-assurance and belief that I can birth in a strong, empowered and informed way. It deepened my trust that one day soon, I will have gained the knowledge of birth that can only come from experiencing it. 


Informed My Movement

Alongside my first trimester symptoms of constant nausea, extreme fatigue and vomiting came feelings of guilt around how sedentary and sloth-like my lifestyle had become. After being very active, I suddenly found my usual routines challenging me. On days when I mustered my inner drill sergeant to simply push through, I often found myself feeling worse in my body than before.

The prenatal yoga element of our training helped me put down the metaphorical bat I was beating myself up with and transformed the way I was approaching exercise, stretching and movement. We explored the counter indications of each trimester, examined the physiology of different stages of pregnancy and how to best support pregnant bodies and help them feel balanced, centered and well-supported. We did this not only in theory but also in practicum, moving and flowing through different stations and sequences so that our bodies could better integrate the practice.

For the first time in months, I’m released of guilt and shame around the present needs of my ever-changing pregnant body. Our prenatal yoga venture gave me greater permission to honor the current expression of my vessel and transformed the way I was relating to my body, giving myself gentleness, patience and grace. 

Community

This one honestly took me by surprise, as so often online interactions can feel surface-level, to say the least. Our cohort of doulas and prenatal yoga teachers in training were diverse in their lived experience, professional expertise and geographical location. Among us were midwives in training, public health researchers and advocates, labor nurses, yoga teachers, mothers and people in various stages of their pregnancy journeys, just to name a few. 

Some of my greatest teachings came from my fellow students. And the support continues to be extended today in our group chat as we share our birth work musings, and personal triumphs and cheer each other on in difficult moments. In a culture that approaches pregnancy, birth and parenting as a one-size fits all conveyor belt system, stumbling upon a group of individuals who are striving to empower, heal and restore birth is nothing short of a miracle. 

A New Intention

Throughout this entire journey, I’ve witnessed my intentions transform and take on new shapes and directions. As the weekends of live classes passed by, my desire to just optimize my pregnancy, labor and postpartum experience began to expand. I don’t know what the future holds for me as a birth worker, but what I do know with certainty is that I’ve been left with burning questions and I’m hungry to ask others questions too. 

How have we managed to rob laboring people from birth experiences that leave them feeling empowered, accomplished and proud? How have we become so severed from the innate, embodied intelligence of our animal bodies? And what can we do to remember the power and wonder of birth?

The ASY doula/prenatal yoga teacher training left me only further in awe of all that is birth and creation. It’s one of the few things that unite us as a species. It’s the place of origin we all share. And I’m praying for a world where we remember, with respect and reverence, the processes that have allowed humanity to expand and express itself here on our precious Earth.


CHECK HERE FOR UPCOMING DATES… We also offer this training in-person once a year in Guatemala.



Monica is a Waldorf educator, writer, self-proclaimed birth nerd, and mother-to-be. She is a recently trained doula and aspiring birth educator. Monica’s writing and musings strive to reclaim birth as a rite of passage and inspire readers to rediscover the power and beauty of birth, from conception, labor, and beyond. She received her BA in Journalism and Creative Writing from CUNY Hunter College.

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