There’s some pretty damaging rhetoric about doulas: we’re untrained, we get in the way of necessary medical interventions, we’re granola hippies who push natural birth over everything else, we’re flakey, we’re unnecessary if there’s a birth partner, and on and on.
I’m not here to tell you that doulas like this don’t exist, because I know that they do. I’m here to tell you why continuing to go along with this script, as a whole, is damaging.
The Truth About Doulas
Did you know that 1 in 3 women have traumatic birth experiences? I’m sure you know someone who had a traumatic experience. Maybe YOU had a traumatic experience. Childbirth is not for the weak. No matter how you slice it (cesarean pun intended), birth is unknown territory. The twists and turns each woman takes on that journey is her own heroic battle, whether through an unmedicated, medicated, or cesarean birth.
Now imagine there was someone there to help women prepare for and unpack this unsettling event. This person knows about birth and birth choices. She knows actual physical techniques that may help women feel cared for physically, mentally, and emotionally. She’s present and attentive. With her she brings a backpack full of love and a desire for you, or your birthing loved one, to not be that 1 in 3.
I count myself lucky to be a member of a large, established doula collective. All-in-all there are over a dozen women who work as doulas together. Our experience ranges from complete novice to 20+ years. Some of us are really into organic foods and holistic medicine, while others of us eat flaming hot cheetos on the reg, unapologetically (*cough* me *cough*). We’re all really different, but we have one common goal: to support families during the most trying transition of life – birth.
How Doulas Support Families
How do we support families? … you did notice I said families right? Not just moms. Doulas can help families in pretty much infinite ways and that’s why I made sure to point out the differences even just within my own collective. Individual doulas bring unique care to their clients, and that’s why forming a relationship with and how you choose your doula is so important.
I cannot go into all the ways that doulas support families, but in a nutshell: doulas allow partners to get some space when labors go long or are emotionally, mentally, or physically difficult. They go on food runs and update worried families in waiting rooms. Sometimes they help older siblings understand what’s happening during the birth process. Doulas have even been around to blow dad’s nose when mom needs him for support and he doesn’t have a spare hand. It’s impossible to define all that your doula may do for you. Doula care is individualized care for the birthing person and all of her support team.
As individualized as my care is, I’m not going to be everyone’s doula of choice, and that’s ok. For every family who chooses not to go with me for doula care, I’m confident that there’s another doula that’s perfect for them because, honestly, this is not about the doula. It’s about the family and about the tremendous journey that birth and parenthood is. So, when you lump us all together (when you stereotype doulas) as radical hippies who give questionable MEDICAL advice, you’re doing women everywhere a disservice because doulas, and the care they provide, are not all one in the same.