A contact of mine, at a local hospital, called concerned about an incident regarding a conflict with a doula and a doctor. The doctor was very upset about something a doula told her client. One misstep can create a negative perspective on the entire profession. Doulas walk a fine line when advising clients. They need to know what their scope of practice is and be very careful not to get into conflict with the medical staff during a birth. This does not benefit anyone! Least of all the client. There are many more doulas than there used to be. I heard there are now eleven certifying organizations for birth doulas. I hope they are addressing this issue in their training programs. My request is for doulas to be very careful about stepping on the toes of the medical community.
Parents need to realize that a birth doula is not a medical practitioner. When interviewing a doula be sure you understand how they practice and what their role is during the birth. Making time and space to discuss this at length will lay the ground work for a better working relationship during the birth. If for some reason the doula you hired does not seem to be a good fit it is possible to change. Just as it is possible to change primary care provider. The sooner you realize this the easier it is to change. Birth is a highly emotionally charged experience and it is up to the doula to create a safe space for the client.
That being said I always suggest to parents that having a doula at their birth is worth the investment. No matter where you give birth they will be the core emotional support – along with family. They also offer advocacy, immediate support and information and non pharmacological pain management and comfort measures. They help parents avoid unnecessary medical intervention. Facilitation of breastfeeding may also be part of their skill set. There are often volunteer doula organizations that provide services at no or low cost.
Contact BirthLink for personal referrals.