Meet Megan Davidson: A Doula Whose Concern Expands To The Whole Community

Meet Megan Davidson: A Doula Whose Concern Expands To The Whole Community
(Courtesy Megan Davidson.)
Megan with a baby’s client in Fort Greene. (Courtesy Megan Davidson.)

Doulas are having a moment. Take it from Megan Davidson, a labor and post-partum doula and long-time Clinton Hill resident.

“I didn’t hear about doulas until I’d already had a child,” she told Fort Greene Focus.

Unlike midwives, who are clinically trained healthcare providers, doulas provide a crucial support system for major transition in a woman’s life, particularly birth and parenthood. Davidson described her first pregnancy as taxing on both her and her husband.

“I think we spent a lot more time feeling afraid and overwhelmed — both of us, frankly — and a little bit lost… What I found is that we actually spent an enormous amount of time alone,” explained Davidson.

Megan, Shawn, and their kids. (Courtesy Megan Davidson.)
Megan, Shawn, and their kids, ages 9 and 13. (Courtesy Megan Davidson.)

Those early challenges inspired Davidson to become a doula. Now she boasts a diverse clientele that extends well beyond Brownstone moms. However, while doulas are growing in popularity, they have yet to become fully embraced the mainstream healthcare ecosystem.

Considered by some to be a luxury service, doulas are still largely uncovered by insurance companies. Some people have coverage for “childbirth education” or “lactation support”, but generally birth coaching is not paid for. In New York, some activist groups like Choices in Childbirth has been working to get insurance coverage for doulas. Other organizations, such as “By My Side,” offer low-to-no cost doula services for families.

Davidson’s position on drug use during delivery is emblematic of her general approach towards birth planning.

“I don’t think it’s the only option. I think the goal the is to expand those options. There’s a lot of ways to do it. It’s a conversation between the person in labor and their body,” explained Davidson.

However, Davidson explained that “it’s unfortunate if epidural is only option for support”, and stressed that other methods such as massage, breathing, and showering should always be available. Similarly, drawing upon her anthropological experience, Davidson said the proliferation of c-sections is out of keeping with the broader scope of human experience.

Nevertheless, Davidson is non-judgmental about choices in childbirth, emphasizing that parents should opt for whatever will make for the easiest, safest, healthiest delivery, and child-rearing process.

Megan and her husband Shawn. (Courtesy Megan Davidson.)

Davidson’s fraught initial foray into motherhood helped undergird her transition into becoming a doula. It also fit the broad pattern of social activism that has characterized Davidson’s life.

As a girl, her mother took her Girl Scout troop to Washington for a march for reproductive rights. She was a peer counselor for Planned Parenthood as a teenager. Later, Davidson pursued anthropology during undergrad at the University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, and then at Binghamton University for her PhD.

Though Davidson grew up in Brooklyn, Wisconsin, it’s the Brooklyn where Davidson has settled where she has the deepest roots.

Both sets of Davidson’s grandparents hailed from Clinton Hill and her brother married a woman who was raised on Vanderbilt. Megan moved to New York in 1999 after completing her PhD, and Clinton Hill is the only neighborhood she’s lived in. Today, she’s active within the community.

“I have always been very committed to social activism and being involved and politics that help better the neighborhood,” said Davidson, who lives a block away from Pratt. “I don’t see doula work as activism per se, but as micro-revolutionary. It’s about helping individual people figure out what they want for themselves.”

In her spare time, Davidson and her husband Shawn run Myrtle Village Green, a community garden located at 913 Kent Avenue.

“We have an amazing, huge garden space that draws a very diverse crowd of over 100 families,” she said.

Like most, she’s noticed the changes that have come about since she moved here in 1999. However, she hopes to stay as long as she can and continue to hang around her favorite haunts like Speedy Romeo’s, Mekelburg’s, and especially Pillow Cafe.

Ultimately, Davidson want people leave their preconceived notions about doulas aside. There’s a doula for everyone, and they won’t necessarily conform to any particular stereotype.

“There’s a preconception that ‘oh, you’re new age yoga teachers who want me to be vegan,’ and there are great doulas who are like that and are a great match for some people — but doulas bring a huge variety of backgrounds and perspectives,” she said.

In the case of Megan Davidson, that’s as an anthropologist, a community activist, and someone with a deep concern for bettering the neighborhood.

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