I have to say, my readers are awesome. Thank you all so much for the great feedback.
Next up is Jacob Engelsman, aspiring doula in Athens, Georgia. He is currently the owner of Engelsman's Finest Ferments and Local Cook at Earth Fare - Athens.
-What led you to become a doula?
I believe that everybody has a super power. Some people play music by ear, some are natural cooks, some are really lucky, etc. I call mine baby-magic. I've always been one of those people, even when I had spikes on my jacket and a big pink mohawk, that babies just love.
About 2006, before I even knew that male doulas were actually a thing, I was living in Asheville, NC. Doulas and midwives are pretty common there, and I've always felt a connection to babies but it seemed to me like being a midwife or doula was somehow "off limits" to men. A lot of research and conversations I had did not dissuade me from this feeling. So the idea was put on the back burner. Then life happened; I met my future wife, ended up moving back and forth across the country 4 times (long story), married her, and helped put her through grad school. Finally, we decided to settle down in Athens, GA, and I got to thinking about what I actually want to do with my life.
All that bouncing around the country led to a lot of different jobs, but pretty much all of them were food service, with which I have lately been growing weary. I started thinking about what, when I'm older, would I regret never having done with my life. That's how I decided that 2015 will be the year I decide, once and for all, if I really want to be a doula. If I do, fantastic; if I don't, no regrets. I've been reading books and articles, watching documentaries and talking to many people about it. The world definitely seems to have opened up to male doulas in the last 9 years, and now it really seems like a feasible goal.
-What do you like to be called?
I'll just go with, "doula." I'm fairly certain that I hate the word, "dudela" but I have a complex relationship with puns :)
-How does your spouse feel about your work?
My wife, Liz, is very supportive of me in this endeavor. She knows that I've always felt a connection to babies and, since we've decided not to have children ourselves, does everything she can to encourage me.
-People don't hesitate at the thought of a male OB/GYN, but often scoff at the idea of a male doula. Why do you think that is?
I'm sure you could write a whole essay on this question alone, but I think a good short answer is: sexism. Historically, when people think of doctors they think of men and when they think of caregivers, they think of women. While women are breaking down barriers to become doctors and OB/GYNs, fewer men have become professional caregivers.
-Do you have a hard time finding clients comfortable with a male doula? / How much of the time are you sought after *because* you are male?
Since both of these will be purely conjectural for me, I elected to combine the questions.
I don't foresee a time when there will be so many male doulas that we will be the only option for a woman (or couple.) I imagine that anyone who hires me will do so specifically because of who I am (which may or may not include my gender,) and not despite it.
-Do you feel that you can offer something different from a female doula?
I have met some women who feel more comfortable with men as opposed to women. I could be helpful with those new mothers. Other than that, any doula offers something different from other doulas. I don't necessarily believe male doulas offer something different from female doulas, on the whole.
You can contact Jacob here: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you could ask a male doula any question, what would it be?