Saturday, October 10, 2009

Weekend Movie: Do You Doula?

Here's a short documentary that I think is a mostly very good public service for doulas as labor support:

Wait, what does she mean by "mostly", though?

I have to quibble, though, with two little things, and I'm very interested in what birth doulas have to say about it. At about 2:11, in the section on "What is the doula's role when working with hospital staff?" a mother states that a doula is "an important liaison between the mother and the [hospital] staff", and shortly thereafter, a doula states that she sees her job as "running interference" between the family and hospital personnel.

Eep. I haven't even competed my birth doula training yet, and I know this is an extremely dicey issue. Using language like "liaison" and "running interference" is a bit misleading, and some doulas HAVE gotten into trouble when overstepping their bounds. You risk alienating the staff, or possibly getting kicked out of the room altogether, leaving the family with no support at all.

Still, the video is overall pretty good, and has a very positive tone. What do you think? I'd love to hear from moms, doulas, nurses, and others.


  1. I like this video, but like you, I dont think liaison is the right word. For example doula support is supposed to empower a woman to have her birth preferences outined with the staff prior to the birth so that the doula doesnt get in that sticky place. If an procedure or intervention is suggested during labor I dont say anything to the care provider, I wait until mom and her partner and I are alone and I let them know what their options are and remind mom to ask the doc Penny Simkin's key questions. If I cant get alone with the mom, I might say something to the mom like "After the birth, you want baby on your chest, right? So that the nurses know what she wants without me requesting it... ;)

    Love your blogs by the way!


  2. Good approach!

    I was just thinking last night - Jennifer Block gives a good example in "Pushed": Client in labor with doula. Included in her birth plan was 'no episiotomy'. Doctor was hovering over the mother's pelvis as the baby repeatedly neared crowning and then retreated a bit, again and again. Every time the head approached, she would reach for the scissors, and then backed off. Finally she said, "I'm just going to make a little cut to help things along," and the mother, was too spaced out in la-la-laborland to grasp what that meant.

    Did the doula put up her hand and say "No, doctor, stop! She doesn't want an episiotomy!" No she did not. What she DID do was say to the mother, "The doctor is about to cut an episiotomy. Is that okay with you?" And the woman snapped out of her haze, practically stood up in the stirrups and cried, "NOOOOOO!"

    Well-handled, I think.

    And thanks, Taryn!

  3. I am a doula,but I would never say I run interference, nor do I consider myself a liaison between the mother and the hospital staff.I am very cautious not to step into these roles.Nor do I advocate for my clients. When a client tells me during the prenatal interview that they want me to be their advocate,I work to empower them to find their own voice.I think many doctors and nurses have this perception of the meddlesome doula who pushes their patient to go natural at all costs and makes things bad for all involved. I don't play into the stereotype. I do all I can to educate my ladies before labor.I make sure they understand what is happening during labor, but it is the partner's role to advocate for the mother.I help the mother find her own voice, but I don't push my own agenda.If the doctor is about the break her water,I'll say, "The doctor is about to break your water, do you have any questions?" and I might help my client spend a LOT of time in the bathroom if that's what it takes to get where she needs to be, but I don't run interference. It's not my role. I protect her dignity,encourage her,comfort her and support her mentally and physically. I am her handmaiden.

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