Meet the Educator: Gem Kocher

Meet DTI Founding Educator, Gem Kocher

Gem has been a doula for 7 years, they specialize in accompanying queer and trans* families, neurodivergence in birth and among birth workers, they are based in Berlin. We asked Gem to share their perspective on being a birth worker and part of the DTI team. Here's what they had to say:

How long have you been a doula?

I have been a doula for 7 years!

How long have you been an educator?

I started as an educator with DTI in April this year! Though like many doulas, I’ve been mentoring (and been mentored by) colleagues and friends for years in an organic community care model.

Do you have any specialties? 

Accompanying queer and trans* families is a passion of mine as a non binary doula. Neurodivergence in birth and among birth workers is also a growing passion since realizing I’m autistic a couple years ago.

Why did you choose to pursue birth education?

Borrowing Spiritual Midwifery from a newborn family I was caring for in my first year after graduating from college changed my life forever. Before reading that book, I didn’t even know what a midwife was. I cracked it open on a plane from New York to Wisconsin and tears did not stop pouring down my face until I had finished the book. From the moment I understood what birth could be, the waves of oceanic birth energy came crashing into my life and have never ceased.

What was your most powerful birthing experience as a doula?

Every birth experience is powerful and it’s hard to quantify and compare. One family invited me to be their doula four times—for each of their four babies—and the honor and love of that is a web knitted into my soul.

What’s one thing you wish you knew sooner in your doula career? 

When I began, I believed I was responsible for outcomes and focused attention and energy unconsciously on “what happened” at a birth. I felt I hadn’t been a “good” doula if someone’s outcome wasn’t what they’d wanted. I quickly realized outcomes and material realities are neither within our control, nor what makes a birth experience positive or negative for a family. Holding space for families’ emotional well being, doing my best to ensure informed consent is present, and providing comfort and context within the twists and turns—in other words—bringing care and attention to the “how,” is where I place my focus now.

How has becoming a Doula changed your life? 

Birth work and care work are essential currents in my spiritual path. In a sense, becoming a doula did not change my life, but rather became my life. The call and response I witness between nature and the divine and the stories I hold space for is an endless flow of mystery and wonder.

Where do you think the Doula world needs to grow/change/evolve? How do you hope to see it change in the future?

Ableism, racism, fatphobia, transphobia, internalized misogyny—the list goes on….We are agents of change within a deeply imperfect world. I would like to see doulas and medical care teams working smoothly as teammates without antagonism. I would like to see continued and increased funding for doulas belonging to and accompanying systematically disadvantaged groups. DTI launched a teen doula program this year in which teens accompany teens giving birth and I’d love to see that grow and others like it spring up. Continually increasing access for evidence based care and autonomy in birth is the goal.

What’s your favorite thing to teach?

I love to hold space for doulas practicing self care and boundaries.