I Won’t Empower You

Women in superhero pose who does not need someone to empower her

Some of you read the the title of this post, and now you’re thinking that perhaps I’m not a very good doula. You thought my job was all about advocating for my clients in birth, and empowering them.

Unfortunately, you’re wrong on all points:

  1. I am a great doula.

  2. I am not an advocate.

  3. I don’t empower anyone.

The reason for this is simple: None of us can empower anyone else. Not even your doula.

That’s a strange thing to hear for people in the circles I travel in. We’re folks who like to help others and “give back”, who maybe believe we are striving toward a more just world, and who believe that people should be empowered. But when you examine the idea further, empowering another person implies things that I don’t believe at all.

In order to empower my clients, I would have to have some sort of power that they do not. I would be giving them something that they lacked. And I firmly believe that we each have our own power. Power to birth babies, be excellent parents, and live our best lives (according to our own definitions).

So I don’t have to give you power. Instead, my job may be to help you access it, if that is a thing that you need. I can create an environment where tapping into your power is easier, because someone is listening to you, rooting for you, trusting you and your instincts without judgement and providing any resources that you need.

I can meet you where you are, and that can help you find the power that you already have.

You’ll also notice that none of that involves any advocacy, and I’ll talk more about that in another post.


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