When we’re not tending the farm or homeschooling the kids, we’ve got “real world” jobs. My (Martha’s) passion is being a childbirth educator and a doula – Greek for “servant” – a woman who comes alongside families before, during, and after childbirth. You can read more about what I do on my webpage for my business, “A Joyful Birth.”
So today, I was a different kind of doula. I was much more involved with the wet, cuddly newborn side of birth than I usually am as we welcomed baby goats on our farm. We are relatively new to farming, but I was struck by how many similarities there are in birth among mammals.
These mamas craved safety and peace as all mothers in labor do. One of the mamas appreciated my quiet presence, reaching out to nuzzle me — and then after the babies were born, she gently butted me and told me to get out. Each mama “counted fingers and toes” on her baby, licking them dry from head to toe. They also encouraged their babies to nurse when they were ready, patiently giving them time to transition from womb to world. And, like I often see with human babies, they were ready to nurse at about the one hour mark after birth. Goats have a special vocalization that they only make to their new babies. Amazing how wondrous birth is!
I am blessed to have seen birth in its completely natural state (well, except five quiet family members watching) and will ponder the lessons from today to see how I can bring that to my human doula work too.