It has come to my attention that there may be some misconceptions out there about how doulas support clients in labor. I want to clear those up.
Doulas do NOT try to prevent clients from receiving pain meds in labor.
This bears repeating. Doulas do NOT try to prevent their clients from receiving pain medication in labor.
Doulas do not seek after unsuspecting people and try to force them to give birth a certain way. Doulas do not have any goal other than to support a family how they’ve been asked to support the family. They’ve spent several hours together before labor even begins discussing birth goals and brainstorming strategies on how to meet those goals.
While there are people in clients’ lives who try to influence their decisions, clients can rest assured that their doula is not going to be one of them.
A doula is an encourager and comforter. Doulas remind their clients that, “You can do this!” “This” could mean many things. It could mean to handle one more contraction without an epidural because Baby is RIGHT THERE or switching gears to something as far away from the original birth plan as one can get.
Doulas are a sounding board. They can share options and explain risks and benefits of interventions. However, a doula won’t make decisions for the client. Clients must give consent for everything that happens to them because they are the ones with the power over their bodies and health care. They are the ones that must live with the consequences of the decisions made during labor.
Speaking of power. The only other person in the room other than the client that has any power to influence outcomes is the care provider. A doula will not try to usurp the power of the care provider nor attempt to have a position of power over the client. Doulas remind clients of THEIR power and THEIR voice and encourages them to use them.
Doulas are not medically trained individuals, and professional doulas understand their role on the birth team. They will not try to take on a role outside of their boundaries.
Doulas want their clients to have safe, healthy, and satisfying births.
Just to be clear, if a client decides that pain medication is a part of the birth plan, whether that is an epidural or IV pain medication, a doula supports that decision. A doula won’t say, “I don’t think you should do that.” Professional doulas will not abandon, judge, or be disappointed in their clients should they decide to use pain meds in labor. It is a mistake to confuse encouraging a client to keep going as forcing a client to avoid pain meds. People hire doulas because they want encouragement when labor starts to get hard. People seek out a doula’s support because THEY are they ones hoping to avoid pain medication in labor.
Doulas do not try to stand in the way of clients receiving pain medication. Ever.
Doulas are similar to personal trainers. Personal trainers have a special way of motivating people to exercise when they really don’t want to in the moment. People hire personal trainers because they need someone to help them stay motivated. They know they might lose their resolve during the activity. They know they might not feel like exercising some days. They know they need that extra knowledge and encouragement that personal trainers have.
If someone had diabetes, they would need a team of people to help them meet their health care goals. They would need a doctor to help them manage their health care and perhaps prescribe medication that can help control blood sugar levels. They would need a personal trainer to help them implement a fitness routine. They may need a nutritionist to help them formulate a healthy eating plan. A doctor can’t follow people around and encourage them to exercise each day and personal trainers can’t prescribe medication to help control blood sugar levels. But together, they can help an individual reach their health goals by staying within their prescribed boundaries. Just like doulas and care providers can work together to help people reach their birth goals.