He’s the change he wishes to see!
A California-based male doula is advocating for women during childbirth and educating men along the way, Good Morning America reports.
Dustin Young became a doula after assisting his younger sister, Alexis Pitts, with her pregnancy in 2019. He had worked hard with Pitts to create a birthing plan, complete with positions she wanted to try during birth. However, when they arrived at the hospital, Young felt like the staff ignored them.
“It was a safe birth but it still wasn’t a great experience. She wasn’t listened to at the hospital. It was just like, ‘Sit here. Do this. Push. It was just so quick and fast. We didn’t really get to cherish the moment,” Young said.
The 37-year-old said their hospital experience was a stark contrast from the calming environment they had created at home during his sister’s beginning contractions.
“I had lavender oils burning, no television was on, all cellphones were off, we were just relaxing. Every time she’d contract, I’d massage her lower back, we’d get on the ball, we’d do all these things to make sure she could labor as long as possible at home. It was extremely relaxing for her,” he recalled.
After the experience, Young decided to seriously pursue his career as a doula, becoming certified at Kindred Space, a Los Angeles based birth center. After meeting with the co-founder Kimberly Durdin, she offered him the chance to become her assistant and acquire hands-on experience before his certification. He leaped at the opportunity, becoming enamored with the child birthing process as he deep dived into the research.
“It’s actually incredible. I know it takes sperm too but as a male species we can’t create life without women. Without women, we are not necessary here. I try not to normalize extraordinary and the birth experience is something that’s extraordinary,” Young said.
His goal is to advocate for women, making child birthing a safer process for mother’s while enrolling men into the fold by providing them with a more informed lens. According to the CDC, Black moms have an extremely high mortality rate, being two to three times more likely to die during childbirth than their counterparts.
“What I would like more is for nurses to have a little more empathy and just be receptive and open to listening. Just ask some questions like, ‘How do you feel? How do you feel today? What can I do for you right now?’ It does a lot,” said Young.
The Carson, California native said he’s always been interested in childbirth and credits his grandmother, who ran a daycare, and his family with feeding his curiosity by always answering him transparently.
“I was one of those ‘why’ kids. I was like, ‘Where do babies come from? Where do humans come from? How do we keep recreating ourselves? How does the world exist?’ As I got a little bit older, I’m like, ‘OK let me dive in more into this anatomy? What goes on internally within the male body and a woman’s body,” he recalled.
“I love the doula approach because you feel like you get a more individualized practice and service. You relate, build and grow over the nine months,” he added.
Young feels like if more men were properly educated about birthing, it would make pregnancy much easier and allow men to “create a healthier birthing experience and a healthier relationship and bond,” with their partners and children.
“It’s more about providing confidence for the man to show up in a way that makes sense for their partner. I think if more men were more educated on the birthing experience, we can support more,” Young said.
To expand his work in the community, Young created Our Own, a nonprofit focused on breaking down systemic barriers in nutrition, education, entrepreneurship, mental health and fitness, in addition to providing resources to ensure racial equity in under resourced communities.
His organization focuses on providing nutritional meals for locals, mentorship services that allow participants to explore work in different business sectors, and holistic fitness that includes yoga, meditation, cycling and running.
“I just really want to change things. I like solving problems. I don’t want to put Band-Aids on anything, I actually want to solve and heal,” said Young.
Thank you for your service Dustin! Because of you, we can!
Photo Courtesy of Dustin Young/Good Morning America