I am an asset to the women in my community. I am a doula. I am a great doula.
Five years ago, when I decided to become a doula, I’m not sure if I was under a false illusion about what the role of a doula is, or if things have just changed so much in the past five years that I’m behind the times.
When I became pregnant with Jett, I decided to continue to be involved in the birthing and natural parenting community, however, I chose not to attend any births because I did not feel that I would be able to be there emotionally and (mainly) physically for any mom in labor. I did not want any women hurt by birth because of my inability to be there, full circle, in my role as a doula.
Now that Jett is 8 months old, I have began taking clients again and getting more involved in the birth community.
I am looking forward to, once again, helping women feel empowered by childbirth through my support and love as a doula.
Better yet, I am terrified.
Not terrified for myself, but for moms and other doulas.
To me, the role of a doula should be simple to put into words.
A doula is a non-medical assistant who provides informed support to women during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum (if she so chooses).
So why is it that I’m finding that more and more birth/labor doulas, these days, are dabbling in murky waters and becoming complacent with giving medical advice or even practicing hands on procedures that should be left to the trained midwife, apprentice, or medical professional (and in some cases, a trained monitrice)?
Because you are not actually required to have a certification to be a doula or a monitrice, there is a fine line when it comes to accountability.
Not only is it not in the scope of a doula to check cervical dilation, fetal heart tones, positioning, blood pressure, etc., but it’s a huge liability to do these things with the proper training and credentials.
It’s also shaky ground when a doula offers medical advice based on the fact that they’ve been there and done that. Just because a doula has had a section or complications during pregnancy, it doesn’t mean that they’ve earned a medical degree for advice in the process.
Is this becoming a new trend? Is this becoming the norm for doulas?
I refuse to practice outside of what I know a true doula to be, even if it’s going to keep me from getting clients in the future.
I will not hurt the women that I vow to help keep safe through support and nurturing. There is enough of that going on in doctor’s offices and hospitals.
A doula is supposed to be an advocate for what a women wants for her pregnancy and birthing experience, not to show off the life altering tricks and tips they’ve picked up from midwives and doctors here and there.
The more that doulas practice as mini-midwives, the more moms will be hurt by birth. The more doulas who practice outside of what they’re professionally trained for, the more that doulas, like me, will find it harder and harder to find clients, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t want an all-in-one doula?
If you hire a doula who does more than what a typical doula should, I dare to say… beware.