Wowza, that title is a doozy! Empower is a word that gets thrown around a lot (especially surrounding birth) and yes, I've been known to use it a time or two. It's hard not to-- after all it's a word that makes us feel like we've done something good. Really good. We can pat ourselves on the back after empowering someone, right? I saw it a lot in my past life in social work and international development. But it wasn't until becoming a doula that I decided to make a point of avoiding the language of "empowering" others.
"Wait a sec, isn't empowering mothers part of what doulas do?"
No, it's really not. Just go with me here:
"Empower" implies that I give you power. It implies that, in some way, you need rescuing. When I empower you you become a passive recipient. But guess what? In your birth (and hey, just life in general!) it's up to you to be anything but passive. You are capable. You are already mighty and strong and you empower yourself. Yes, as a doula we'll create a space for you to feel supported in advocating for your wishes. We'll help you formulate questions and understand information. We'll guide your partner in caring for you. We'll be present with you. We'll be your sounding board.
But we trust you, Mama. We know you have a dream for this pregnancy, this birth, this child and you are able to make your own decisions. Our job is to be by your side as you discover the power you've had all along. We sit in awe and marvel at your strength, quietly cheering you on as you dig deep and do the work.
No, your doula doesn't empower you.
Because everything you need is already within you.