By: Doula Ros Padua
It has been a year since I attended my official doula training in Bali, Indonesia under the Eat, Pray, Doula Program.
The days leading up to my trip in March 2016 were filled with anticipation and anxiety in equal amounts. For the first time in years, I would be alone again in my travels, visiting new places and learning new things. Also for the first time in her life, my daughter and I would be apart.
Oh, but the journey I embarked on was precisely for her; for myself, for the mothers and daughters, and for all the women who came before me and will come after me.
Ubud was the perfect setting for the “Eat, Pray, Doula”. It is Bali’s center for healing and spirituality. The streets are quiet, the temples are sacred, and the rice fields are full of life. Everywhere you look in Ubud, there is something you can do to nurture your mind, body and spirit. There is acupuncture, vegetarian food, all-natural smoothies, special teas, healing massage, therapeutic art, balancing the chi, and many more.
This feeling of being nurtured was felt throughout our 10-day workshop-retreat with top-notch birth workers Ibu Robin Lim, Debra Pascali Bonaro and Katherine Bramhall.
We started each day in a big, open and welcoming circle, holding each other’s hands and connecting with our hearts. We called upon our mothers, grandmothers, great grandmothers and spoke their lovely names. We proclaimed our love and our passions, and talked about our skills and talents with pride. We held each other in long and tight embrace, let out tears of both pain and joy, and gazed into each other’s eyes with admiration.
During discussions at class time, there was no right, there was no wrong—only respect of each one’s individual experiences. In an environment full of love and support, I saw my classmates each day—19 amazing women from all over the globe—unraveled and rose to the challenge of being a birth doula.
“While you are here, you are loved, you are cherished. It is our goal to plant seeds of affirmation in your heart, so if a time comes that you feel down, you will pluck from that garden that we have so lovingly planted for you,” said Debra.
Debra Bascali Bonaro (Orgasmic Birth), is such as gifted teacher. She shared with us the history of birthing practices all around the world and the work of doulas since time immemorial. We learned about international laws, policies and programs. She also taught us everything about birthing, beginning with her deep understanding of hormones, and everything about a doula’s role.
Katherine Bramhall (Gentle Landing Midwifery) provided our moral compass. She always brought us back to what the doula profession truly stands for.
Ibu Robin Lim (Bumi Sehat) is mother nature incarnate. You feel the love emanating from her even just being in her presence. She welcomed us into her clinic, into her home and family, and showed us how we should love every mother-baby who comes to us for support. It is through her teachings that I have come to know that gentle birth heals the world.
Each morning, Morag, our classmate who is also a yoga teacher, led us in a one-hour yoga session. Our yoga area was in a platform overlooking the river and the rush of water was our soundtrack. While in shavasana I would open my eyes slightly, and be greeted by the soft sun peeking through the palm trees and dozens of beautiful dragonflies hovering above.
Our bodies were nourished with vegetarian dishes freshly prepared each day. Fruit was abundant and coconut juice helped us beat the Bali heat. Our sleeping quarters were especially comfortable to foster deep, recovery sleep.
The sisters I met in Eat, Pray, Doula are amazing! We had social workers, breastfeeding counselors, teachers, photographers, childbirth educators, artists, yoga teachers, healers and many more! Our afternoon sessions always begin at the pool with birth stories taking center stage.
At the end of the 10 days, the workshop went over and beyond being a skills-training for my newfound profession. I was led to this workshop to find peace and healing, and a deeper understanding of the impact of birth not just for the mother-baby, but all of society.
The love and warmth I received a year ago, I still feel to this day. This love and warmth is what I bring with me in my practice as a birth doula.