Has a doula or birth worker in your community paved the way?
Made it easier for you to be a doula in your area?
Contributed to making birth or early parenting better for the families in your community?
Show your appreciation and ProDoula’s by nominating them to be a recipient of the ProDoula Community Appreciation Award!
As the doula industry begins a cultural shift towards sustainable business practices and greater diversity, we would be remiss in forgetting our origins. We are not the inventors of doula work, nor the originators of professional birth and parenting support. We are not the first to see the greater role we can play in supporting individuals, families, and communities.
We are not the first
But we have never claimed to be. As ProDoulas we know that what we are doing is an innovation, not an invention. To change something, that something must already exist! What we are building is an extension of the work, effort, and dedication of those who have gone before us. If we can see a different path, a new way forward, or a chance to improve, it is because we have been raised up by the greatness of those who have gone before us. The doula field would not exist if it were not for their ideas, ideals, and greatness.
A foundation is the lowest part of a building; it is the base upon which a building is built. Without a foundation, a building would not be structurally sound and it would not be safe. But a foundation is also an underlying basis or principal. The title of “doula” is new when compared to other industries and professions. The idea of trained, professional support during birth and early parenting was a revolutionary concept; one that forever changed the landscape of family care.
In the nearly 50 years since the term ‘doula’ was first used in an anthropological study conducted by Dana Raphael for Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, the idea of who, and what, a doula is has changed. Although the original premise of a female companion of the same species who is present during birth has remained constant, many other aspects of the role have evolved over time. From a woman sitting in the corner holding a clipboard to the current iteration of doulas as comforters and educators who attend all births, and support early parenting, we have changed and grown tremendously.
Overwhelmingly those who have gone before us have been women. One could even view them as Mothers of the doula profession. They imagined, birthed, nourished, and sustained a fledgling industry through four decades of rapidly changing views, methods, and technology. That they have persevered through opposition, rogue individuals whose actions made it harder to gain the trust of clients and providers, and the bad press those individuals caused. That perseverance and ingenuity have led to a wide-ranging and increasingly diverse industry with the underlying and fundamental intention of supporting families.
It is time to recognize the incredible individuals on whose shoulders we stand. It is time to celebrate their innovation, their accomplishments, and their tenacity. It is past time perhaps, to honor their contribution not only to creating this industry, but also to improvements in pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
In order to honor these incredible individuals, ProDoula is launching a new, community-based award. This award can be received by doulas from all certifying organizations that meet the requirements and are nominated by an individual from within their local community. When a nomination form is received by the ProDoula office, they will determine that the requirements have been met and will then send the award recipient a beautiful certificate and letter, explaining why they were nominated, and expressing the thanks of us all for the work they have done to elevate the role of the doula in the eyes of families, care-providers, and other doulas.
The ProDoula Community Appreciation Award is meant to recognize the significant leadership that our Giants have provided over the years. Those who are nominated should have demonstrated a commitment to excellence within their home community. They may have been the first doula to ever attend a hospital birth in their region, or the doula who worked with care-providers to make changes. They may be someone who organized a professional doula group, or who has mentored countless doulas over the years. This award is for those doulas who have built the foundation and become giants, on whose shoulders we stand.
Special thanks to Meaghan Grant for collaborating on the creation of this award, contributing her brilliant writing abilities and her unwavering commitment to leaving birth better than she found it.
“We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.” ~ John of Salisbury, 12th century theologian