Over the years, I've watched as doulas have adopted a savior complex. It was as if they felt they had the power to save women from bad birth experiences. How do you even define a "bad" birth experience? They copied statistics, puffed their chest, and determined that women absolutely needed them to achieve a good birth. My stomach churns a bit when I see this topic come up and I watch doulas comment on what they believe the role of a doula is.
Earlier this month, I came across a Facebook group where a doula was asking about induction for her client. A few things stood out about the responses, but one in particular sent me straight to my computer to write this very blog. You'll find quotes from the doula along with my responses to her statements below.
"Part of a doulas job is to navigate the dangers of what hospitals do."
I personally never knew that hospitals were an absolute danger to pregnant women, did you? Automatically, it puts a doula at odds with the very medical professionals her client has chosen for her care. It sets the standard of not trusting her to make decisions that are best for her. She is the one having a baby. She is the one that can ask questions if she'd like. She is the one that gets to decide all aspects of her prenatal care, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Why are doulas attempting to take power away from the clients they serve? Why are doulas telling their clients that hospitals are dangerous?
"I would educate yourself on how rough and dangerous inductions can be."
Yet another absolute is presented here. Are inductions all dangerous and bad for a mother and baby? Absolutely not! In this particular scenario, the client was desiring to have a medical induction so the father of the baby could be present for the birth. As a doula we are there to support her in decisions she is making with her doctor or midwife. Inductions can be a very safe and life saving option and to devalue that is completely reckless. Also, think about the following possibility: What if you as a doula tell your client that having an induction is dangerous and will harm the baby? What if she listens to you and the following week her baby is stillborn? Who is she likely blame? How would you justify the fact that you talked her out of an intervention that could have saved her baby?
"Besides the fact that she is artificially removing a baby 2 weeks before it's ready to be born for a non medical reason."
I go back to this being a persons choice. If she and her doctor have determined that this is safe and she has made this choice, then it is not our job to persuade her to do things the way we think they should be done. Aside from that, the terminology in this statement is meant to create fear and doubt in her chosen birth environment.
"Obstetrics know nothing about side effects and long term emotional or neurological issues from inducing early."
That's a pretty broad statement, isn't it? I'm pretty sure that obstetrics does know a thing or two about this subject. Making sweeping statements such as this without ample evidence makes doulas look uneducated and foolish.
"This is something that should have been covered in any doula training so if you don't understand the pitfalls, you can't properly guide her to make good decisions."
As a ProDoula doula trainer, I can assure that you will not be taught about pitfalls. You will be taught to give information to clients if they request it. You will be taught that you are not responsible for birth outcomes. You will be taught that supporting families during birth doesn't mean you twist their arm to believe like you do. You will be taught to support with non judgmental care and compassion. You will be taught to be a professional doula who will build bridges instead of demolish them. You will be taught that you do not guide/coerce/move anyone to make decisions about their health and medical wellbeing.
ProDoula is transforming the industry and I'm proud to be part of it. We want clients, doctors, midwives, nurses, and hospitals to see that what we do is helpful instead of harmful. We seek to elevate the role of doulas to a professional level and to serve clients in a way that builds credibility.
So what do doctors, midwives, and labor and delivery nurses have to say about comments such as these? I reached out to providers in my area and will release their responses in the second part of this blog. Be on the look out!