What I love most about the expo is the opportunity to talk with care providers and the public. These conversations have yielded interesting insights and revealed a number of misconceptions about what doulas do. Our goal at A Woman's Design is to provide exceptional, professional, and caring service before, during, and after birth. Let me show you how these misconceptions are inconsistent with how we practice our craft.
1. We are professionally trained and certified. It is not uncommon that a sister, cousin, or best friend will introduce herself to the hospital staff as a doula but is not a doula at all. Though their intentions may be good, they are doing a great disservice to the mother, care providers, and professional doulas. We are accountable to our certifying organization (DONA International), the other partners in our group, the client, and the public. Our primary objective is to serve our clients in a professional, caring manner.
2. We are not medical professionals and we do not perform clinical tasks. From the time of our very first meeting, we let our clients know this. We know that we do not have our client's entire health background. When clients ask, we will provide evidence-based information about the labor and delivery process so they can make informed decisions but we always tell them to consult with their medical care provider with concerns or questions they have.
3. We do not speak on behalf of our clients. They are intelligent, well-informed women and men. If you hear us ask a question on their behalf, it is not because we do not know the answer. It is because our client asked us to remind them about something they wished to ask you. Our job is to facilitate a dialogue with you not be their voice.
4. We do not judge client's decisions. Whether our client wants an epidural, non-medicated, home birth, or planned Caesarean, we will honor those decisions and provide unconditional support for them. Our role is to make sure our client is comfortable with her decisions and has a safe birthing experience.
5. We do not take over the role of the partner or main support person. Before the birth, we spend a great deal of time getting to know both mother and partner as we want to make sure we are supporting them in the way that best resonates with them. Some partners or support persons may want to take on a coach-like role while others may want to step back and support from afar. Whatever their choice, we them to shine and be the face that mom remembers. We love it when they surprise themselves and do more than they ever thought they would. We love when their love, touch, or voice is the one that gets her through.
6. The manner in which we do our job takes many forms. Depending on the client, you may see us knitting in the corner or sitting right next to them holding her hand. We may be silent while she is pushing rather than counting out loud. The needs of our clients differ and we respect those needs. Whatever the situation, we are honoring our client's wishes and providing them with the support she needs—and has requested—during the birthing process.
7. We understand our limitations and demonstrate self-care to both the mother and her partner. Studies show that continuous support during the birthing process is most beneficial and we try to provide that. The birth process takes time and we want to be there for the long haul. So if you see us catching a quick nap, taking a walk, or stepping outside for a few minutes, it is most likely because we have been with the client since before they were admitted the hospital. If you've offered us a warm blanket, pillow, or cup of coffee during those long births, THANK YOU!
In rare instances, we may call in a back-up doula from our group to relieve us if we feel were are no longer able to best able to serve our client. Our unique group practice model means each client has at least two doulas familiar with her case. This allows us to provide the utmost care for our clients and ourselves.
Our best days as doulas are when we are working alongside care providers who understand our role and see it as a benefit to not only the client but to him or her as well. We acknowledge and respect that you are skilled medical professionals and bear a great responsibility for a healthy baby and mother. We can work with you to give women and families a positive holistic experience that starts before the delivery room.
If you see or experience anything that you believe is outside the scope of our practice, or if we get in the way of you doing your job, please let us know. While you may not be able to do so during the birth, contact us afterwards to discuss it so we can learn how we can better help mothers, families and care providers.
A Woman's Design