Evolution is on my mind. I guess it is because of that book by Meredith Small that I just finished (and reviewed here). If I really were designed to roam the plains in search of food together with a close-knit group, then how unnatural is my life and that of most other mothers in the industrialized world? Trying to raise our (two to three) children by ourselves within our four walls, sneaking off to our computers to check for an email or a twitter message, sitting there for hours after the kids go to bed, driving everywhere, and increasingly more of the childcare assistance that we get is from trained professionals not family members. And doulas too, at least here in the US, are the professionalized substitute for the kin women.
I attended the post-partum doula meeting on Tuesday, which was as great and inspiring as ever. The topic of conversation was night doula’s work. It turns out that a lot of parents (especially if they have twins and if they can afford it) like to hire night doulas or night nannies (which are two completely different professionals), some disappear the minute the doula comes by and lets her take care of the kids for the whole night (which is more like a night nanny, even though she is paid like a doula), some spend time talking and get their babies brought in to them when necessary for feeding. Then the talk was about sleep and how a lot of parents expect sleep training from their night doulas (which most of them don’t do, but they do promote the babies natural capacity to sleep and call it “sleep teaching” as opposed to “sleep training”, which is from the book called “Babywise” which the doula community and the American association of Pediatricians do not recommend). That reminded me once again about the book by M. Small. In her cross-cultural comparison she mentions the differences between Italian and American mothers, the latter of which are mostly concerned about their infants’ sleep, while the former are concerned about what their babies eat. Never have I been asked so often if my baby sleeps through the night as in the US, even though in Latvia people also inquire after the sleep pattern of the newborn. What I thought was interesting, was how much part of the culture the doulas themselves seemed to be by suggesting things like quiet time at night, dimming lights for night feedings and not bringing the baby out of the sleeping environment after 6 pm, which as I have often observed is close to the bed time that many American children have (7 pm or 7:30 pm). I have noticed that the 10 pm bedtime of our kids seems normal only to other foreigners. So, I started wondering if I ever could become a doula in the USA, considering my much relaxed attitude about sleep (and other cultural differences), but then again I remembered what our trainer at the DONA training said: “There is the right fit for everyone. It is not only them, who are interviewing you, it is also you who is seeing if the family is right for you.” So, please, the families that are right for me and for whom I am the right doula – do come my way.