Spanish for Doulas and Midwives
A guide to communicating with your Spanish-speaking clients
Are you eager to learn vocabulary and conversational skills in order to better serve your Spanish-speaking birth clients and community? Heading off to work with pregnant women in Mexico, Central or South America? Are you volunteering with a Spanish-speaking client? Working in a hospital with a large Spanish-speaking population in your own community?
I know first-hand how important it is for birth workers to communicate with the Spanish-speaking community, right at home. I know how good it feels for a laboring woman to feel "heard" and "seen" in her birth, to have someone there who honors her wishes and who can go a bit deeper with her. Far from home, some Latin women in the states do not have an emotional support system. Most may not know about doulas or compassionate midwifery care. And the lucky ones will find a doula or supportive midwife before the birth, or will be happily surprised when a volunteer just shows up for their birth! I have been that lucky doula that got to make someone's day brighter!
More and more women are traveling the globe searching for cultural experiences as they become doulas and midwives. As an example, I worked in Bali this summer at a birthing center, and learned Bahasa Indonesia within a few short weeks by studying a couple hours a day in a month long language course, and by walking around the birth clinic with my language cheat sheet. I was able to serve my clients with ease by memorizing a few more phrases each day. What matters most is that you are serving these women, and doing the best you can.
I don't believe we have to live or study abroad for years in order to learn fast phrases and vocabulary in order to serve our clients. I believe you can serve your Latin/Spanish-speaking community wherever you are, starting now!
This document is two years in the making. It started out as a project for a Holistic Midwifery course. Since then, I have added on a plethora of phrases that I use in the birth room, during prenatal sessions, and when I see my doula clients at home. It is set up so that you can get to know your clients well and understand where they are coming from in a very compassionate way. Each topic contains useful vocabulary plus many phrases in order for you to feel more prepared and to better connect with your clients, in Spanish! I even added placenta talk, special high risk topics, and have a comprehensive list of work abroad options in Latin America.
If you are totally new to Spanish, please follow my suggestions at the bottom of the page. If you are past the beginner stage and able to pick it up a bit quicker, make sure to find a language buddy so you get more comfortable with small talk. You will receive eight pdf documents containing over 600 Spanish phrases and vocabulary terms; it's just bound to help you serve more women than you thought possible.
El parto- The birth
El posparto- The postpartum
Liquido amniótico- Amniotic fluid
El cervix- The cervix
La placenta- The placenta
El cuerpo de la Mujer- The female body
Las contracciones y Sensaciones- Contractions and Sensations
Gente de apoyan- Support people
Brindando Animo- Encouragement
De nalgas- Breech birth
Cesárea- Cesarean Birth
Parto en hospital- Hospital birth
Frases Útiles para el Parto- Useful phrases in labor
Ella tal vez diga- She might say...
Cual es el papel de la Doula?- The Role of the Doula
Doula voluntaria- Volunteer doula
Programas Internacionales- International programs
Knowing how to conjugate verbs is important. Buy a simple grammar book. Start with the present, then learn the past and future and get practicing! Buy birth books in Spanish, and read websites in Spanish on birth related subjects. Take a class in your community for a month or two just to get started! Buy an app or at-home language program that is trustworthy and recommended by friends or colleagues. Going out on educational dates with Spanish speakers in your own community can be fun too. Don't be shy. Buy a journal and start taking notes on all the many words and phrases you are learning from this 40+ page document I created, plus your grammar course, and from live practice. Practice at least an hour per day. Make the commitment to learn. It's worth it. I'm so glad I can help you get started ;)