09 Oct Doulas, We Are Missing The Mark
There are a lot of catchy phrases out there. So many companies, brands, ideas that are known and recognized by a single phrase.
Just Do It.
I’m Lovin’ It.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy.
Taglines and branded phrases eventually become what is familiar. And what becomes familiar lends to stereotypes. Yes?
Doulas are no different. There is a plethora of ideas, phrases, assumptions and expectations that make up the stereotypes surrounding “the doula”.
-The idea that doula support is only “for” a certain type of birth or parent.
-Specific language around pregnancy, birth, and parenting.
-The assumption that you must live a certain kind of lifestyle in order to have or want, a doula.
-Believing that a doula will carry a list of expectations surrounding the choices you, the client makes.
I’ve known for a long time that I did not fit the mold of the “stereotypical” doula who only promotes “natural” birth (insinuating there is a superior way to give birth). The one who puts down all forms of infant feeding other than exclusively at the breast. The one who expresses his/her mistrust of obstetricians, as a rule of thumb.
For a long time, I knew that the judgments within beliefs and behaviors like these did not coincide with offering true or genuine support to pregnant and new families. How could they?
But it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I began to more clearly articulate where I stand with this, compared to others in my community and in my profession.
This morning, I noticed a simple graphic that was posted by a popular doula group. And it stopped me in my tracks. It’s unassuming appearance could mean that it is easily missed by many, but the judgement contained in its message hit me between the eyes.
It says and is given this bolded emphasis:
“Every woman deserves a midwife. Some women need an obstetrician.”
Go ahead. Read it again. Take a second and soak in it’s underlying messages.
-You’re drawing the short stick if you don’t have a midwife.
-If you don’t have a medically challenging pregnancy, then the only right place for you to be is with a midwife.
-Do you really love your baby if you prefer an OB?
-Nobody really wants an OB.
-Obs shouldn’t be trusted.
Can you see why this simple graphic stopped me this morning?
Why. WHY are doulas continuing to tell their communities that there is a right way and a wrong way to be pregnant? To give birth? To be a parent?
Why should it ever be up to me to decide for you, the right way to set yourself up for your parenting gig? It’s your child and your parenting gig.
Midwives are not immune to disrespectful treatment of their patients and obstetricians are not immune to respectful treatment of theirs. BOTH provider types are skilled, compassionate health care professionals who do amazing things for their patients each and every day.
If it seems like I feel strongly about this, you’d be right. I am truly passionate about being a doula who helps families find the path that is theirs. And I’m just as passionate about providing doulas through my company, who do the same.
It’s time to fully turn the corner on these doula stereotypes.
Women don’t deserve, nor are they obligated to want midwives simply because they are not obstetricians. Women deserve to be supported in their personal decisions about which type of care provider best meets their individual needs. Period.
Are you with me?
Olympia area families, Tacoma area families, JBLM families, Seattle area families…find the birth and parenting support that respects you. Your individuality. Your decision making autonomy.
Owner, Doulas Northwest