For World Doula Week 2021, we’re profiling DTI doulas who are shaping the world through birth work, doula work and reproductive health advocacy.
What does it mean to live and work as a doula day-in and day-out?
Today, we’re featuring Molly McConnell a full-spectrum doula based in Austin, Texas.
Molly McConnell (she/her) is a birth and postpartum doula in Austin, TX. She is a cat-mom, sister, daughter-of-a-therapist, friend, RJ advocate and partner who has dedicated her whole career to understanding and loving what makes humans human.
She founded Healing Birthwork (@healingbirthwork) in 2019 and joined the Austin Doula Care team (@austindoulacare) after meeting DTI doulas, Kim and Chelsea, at the Born Into This Conference after her doula training!
1.) What brought you to doula work?
I got into birth work through the most wonderful and unexpected way: my life came undone. I was planning all of the things. I was getting my life in order. I was going to get my PhD in Sociology. Then, my memaw died.
My maternal grandmother, the matriarch of our family, moved through life’s last transition just as I was finding my way into Reproductive Justice oriented work and research. She actually passed on just a few days after I learned what a doula even was.
When I was with my family, in grief and in joy, I realized how similar birth and death can be—they are the most integral parts of being human, both are powerful, both can be filled with love/sorrow/grief/laughter/joy/wonder. As I supported my own grieving process as well as my family’s, I fell in love with doula work.
2.) What are you working on within your doula practice right now?
I am a part of the Birth as a Heroic Journey cohort this season to become a Birthing From Within Mentor and Doula. So, I’m working through my own vulnerabilities and hoping to find more ways to help others explore and move through theirs. I will begin offering Birthing From Within classes soon. (Fingers crossed!)
3.) What’s in your doula support bag?
Snacks for me. Like, so many snacks. An absurd amount of food for me. I also have LED candles, a hand-held fan, a swimsuit, and peppermint oil. Whatever else I bring depends on who I’m working with.
4.) What’s your favorite doula book?
Oh, this is a hard one. In addition to being a doula, I work at an indie bookstore, so picking a favorite book is TOUGH.
I do love Why Did No One Tell Me This? The Doulas’ (Honest) Guide for Expectant Parents by Ash Spivak and Natalia Hailes; Transformed By Birth by Britta Bushnell, Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines ed. Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Mai’a Williams, China Martens; and The Heart Centered Pregnancy Journal by Nikki Shaheed.
5.) Describe your doula journey in three words.
Transformational, Heart-Centered, (un)Becoming.
6.) What’s one thing you’d like to say to new doulas?
You don’t have to know all of the things. All you have to do is show up wholeheartedly and hold space for human connection.
7.) Any words you live by when providing doula support?
“This feeling is a testament to your power and strength.”
8.) What’s one interesting thing you’ve learned about the human body, thanks to doula work?
The egg that created us was made inside our grandparent. For me, this was especially moving because it meant I ‘became’ from Memaw—the woman who taught me what unconditional and radical love can be, and whose death marked my becoming a doula.
9.) Your favorite tip for new parents?
Make room for ‘not-knowing,’ and give yourself grace as you navigate what being a parent is. There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
10.) Your one wish for the birth world / reproductive health world at-large?
There is so much that I wish for: the end of systemic -isms that kill and harm birthing people each day (ie racism, classism, ableism, colorism, ageism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, etc.); the transformation of birth spaces into places of growth and (re)birth rather than extensions of these systems of oppression and violence; that people get the care and love that they deserve and want; and so much more.