Malika Hook Muhammad has been a doula for nine years, and has been serving women and families in the greater Washington, D.C. area since 2011. She first learned about the work of doulas after sitting with a friend who was in labor, while Muhammad was in graduate school. When t labor finished, she said “you should be a doula.” This was the same friend who also told Muhammad that she would make a great social worker—which prompted her journey to obtain her Masters of Social Work. A good friend, indeed, and Muhammad took the advice seriously.
Soon after, Muhammad began looking into training options and found an amazing program in Philadelphia that was subsidized by the University of Pennsylvania. The organization, Philadelphia Alliance for Labor Support (PALS), also supplies doulas for women who are either laboring alone or cannot afford the support. Muhammad understood that this was in alignment with her values as a social worker, and with that, a new career was begun.
When working, Muhammad is mindful to follow the lead set by the laboring woman. “I do my best to match her rhythm or to help her find it, if she’s having some difficulty. I also work with partners to help them find their place in the labor process. As a doula, I never want to overshadow or replace the woman’s husband/partner.” Guiding her through the process is the understanding that labor has as much to do with the mind as it does with the body. She works with women prenatally to help them find their center, so that when birth comes, they are ready to surrender to the experience.
When asked: what gives her the greatest joy, Muhammad quickly notes that it is watching two individuals become a family, particularly when it is their first baby. Most importantly, it is the beauty of witnessing the simplicity and perfection of birth. “Often when we leave a woman to navigate through her own experience without interrupting her with procedures, interventions or unnecessary stimulation, while fostering her own self- confidence, the trust in her body and the connection with her baby, birth unfolds with astounding perfection.”
Malika Hook Muhammad, The DC Doula, serves Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. If you are interested in learning more about doulas or are interested in contacting her, visit at TheDCDoula.com.