Every now and then I come across a picture or story about a doula that leaves me thinking in my best Jim Gaffigan impression, “That’s one way to live your life.”
I’ve read stories about the need for more pit bull doulas (not me) who will put their hands in front of a perineum (so not me) in order to prevent a care provider from performing an unnecessary episiotomy (definitely not me, and I am not sure that is anything more than a doula urban legend). I’ve heard about tattooed doulas (not me), doulas that cuss like a sailor (not me, although I can appreciate a well-timed f bomb from others), and doulas that have pink and purple spikey hair (not me). There are doulas who dress professionally for interviews (me) and those who prefer to dress casually (not me), doulas who are Earth Mother Hippie doulas who drench themselves in essential oils (not me) and those who prefer not to smell like anything at all (me). Some doulas have a bold demeanor and seem to take up all the space in the room with their enthusiasm (not me) and some who have a calm, quiet, down-to-earth confidence that puts those around them at ease (me). Some doulas talk really, REALLY fast (not me) and others carefully decide what they will say using a slight Southern drawl (me- well we can debate over the *slight* part). There is a perfect doula for every person who wants one, and not every doula you meet will feel like a good match.
After more than 9 years of being a doula, I have learned that people, more often than not, hire their doula based on his or her personality. There is that magical, indescribable something about that particular doula that just feels right. It isn’t usually her years of experience, her ability to do amazing hip squeezes, or all of the cool birthy knowledge in her head that sets her apart. It’s how people feel around her. And before people even get to the interview stage, which back in the old days was face to face (COVID joke. Too soon?), they tend to narrow down their search to a handful of doulas to interview after getting a feel for them through their website and social media sites. So I’d like to share a few things with you before we even set up the interview to help you decide if I am a good fit.
1. I don’t stand on hospital beds.
Occasionally, I see pictures floating around the internet of a doula standing on a hospital bed using a rebozo to sift a pregnant belly. This is not something I will do. I honestly don’t see the necessity of doing this. Nevermind the fact that I might freak out a poor, unsuspecting nurse.
I will, however, contort myself into all sorts of crazy positions in order to accomplish the same goals, and have done so for many years.
I have also seen the ickiness that can land on those hospital floors and the spots that were missed during the clean-up process. I don’t allow my hospital shoes in my house, so I will not climb into someone’s hospital sheets where they will eventually deliver their baby with those same disgusting hospital shoes. I suppose I could carry some shoe covers with me, but after taking a semester of microbiology this past spring, I think I’ll keep my shoes safely on the floor.
2. I don’t fight with hospital staff.
I’m not sure how things were done back in the day when doulas were “pit bull doulas,” but that is certainly not my style. Building bridges and relationships, respecting the roles of those around me, assuming the best in people, and being a team-player has benefitted myself and my clients well over the past 9 years. As far as I can tell, most nurses and care providers are nice people who also want their patients to have good and safe deliveries.
3. I don’t protect people from bad care providers.
Back when I was a new doula, I met a lot of people who wanted to hire a doula to protect them from a bad care provider. I honestly don’t know what that would have looked like. I can’t MAKE a care provider speak kindly and respectfully to their patients. I can’t MAKE a care provider to be truthful about options and necessary interventions. And as someone who is not a medical care provider and doesn’t know much about my client’s medical history, there is no way for me to know IF the care provider is being honest about options and necessary interventions. I can’t really say whether that induction or Cesarean is really necessary. Part of my job as a doula is to teach my clients how to communicate with their care providers effectively, not to try to cause problems between the patient and the care provider. I can only equip you to ask questions that will help you make the best decisions for yourself.
If you are reading this right now, and you are someone who feels like you need others in the room to protect you from your care provider, you need to switch care providers. Please hear me. You have the power to find someone else who will treat you well. Your doula most likely has some connections and recommendations of people you can reach out to.
4. I don’t tell people what decisions they should make.
Like I mentioned in the previous section, I can help my clients gather information and teach strategies for effective communication. I can’t tell them what decision to make. I am not the one who has to live with the consequences of those choices. I can share options and be a sounding board, but there is no way I can know what the right decisions are for my clients. The words, “You should just get the epidural/get induced/have a C-section/break your water/etc” won’t exit my mouth.
5. I don’t leave if someone chooses to get an epidural.
It is hard for me to believe that this isn’t anything but another doula urban legend, but I think there have been a few instances that I did not make myself clear with a few clients. When they got an epidural they asked me, “Are you staying?” Um…yeah! You haven’t had your baby yet! You are still in labor! There is still more work ahead.
The only time I would leave in labor is if my client asked me to leave. Which hasn’t happened yet. So just to be super duper amazingly clear, I DO NOT LEAVE if someone chooses to get an epidural. I may be required to leave the room for a short amount of time, but when they are ready, I will come back.
I hope these 5 things help you get a better idea of who I am as a doula and as a person. If you haven’t yet checked out my FAQ section, I invite you to do so! If after reading all of that you still feel like, “Hey, she’s pretty cool. I’d like to meet her,” go ahead and contact me. I’d love to hear from you!