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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: email@example.com
If you could ask a male doula any question, what would it be?