I love and adore doulas. I think they are indispensable, and I wish every mother had access to an awesome doula. Having a doula lowers your chances of a C-section by a whopping 28% (!) and support like what they provide was recently included in the 2014 guidelines published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as “one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes.” Doulas are, without question, a critical part of the birth team.
What some moms don’t realize, though, is that doulas can’t say every little thing that’s on their minds, and they have professional standards that may preclude them from talking to you like you are a best friend.
My own doula and I have had more than one conversation about why she didn’t warn me about my provider—someone who I now know has a reputation for not following through on promises to patients. “But I asked you!” I’ve said to her. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She has explained patiently, each time, that she gave me the information I needed to make my own decision. What I wanted from her—to say, “Oh, Cristen, youneed to switch providers right now!”—is not something she would ever say to a client. Instead, she gave me specific questions to ask. She encouraged me to talk to my provider about my wishes and pay attention to the conversation, to trust my instincts, and to be honest with myself about whether or not I thought my provider was really going to follow through with what she’d promised.
Sure enough, I ignored the red flags. And sure enough, things came to a head with that provider. Finally, I switched care at 41 weeks, 6 days pregnant. (But that’s another story.)
Since then, I’ve talked to hundreds of consumers and doulas and have sat with them for hours in talks around the country, from Los Angeles to New York. Every single group of birth professionals said the same thing about their clients—sometimes in tears of frustration: “They want us to protect them and we can’t!” and “My job is to support them, but it KILLS me that I can’t tell them what they’re up against.”
This isn’t to say no doula has ever said or done these things. Some have and do. And, in fact, the evolving role of the doula has become a hot topic in the doula community and a discussion I'm excited to see happen. But, you should know that, traditionally, the role of the doula has been pretty strictly defined by professional organizations and most doulas stringently adhere to their code of ethics and scope of practice.
So, I’m going to tell you Three Things Your Doula Can’t Tell You…
Starting with my next email in a couple of days! Why am I sharing this information? Because I know, firsthand, how daunting it can be to navigate our maternity care system—and I’m also speaking as someone who has spent several years researching it, working with top national experts, and interfacing with thousands of women around the country as a consumer advocate. I can’t imagine having to figure it all out, as a parent-to-be, in a matter of months!
That’s why I’ve put together a new online class called The Empowered Consumer: 3 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Hospital Birth—chockfull of information you won’t get anywhere else. This is the stuff you've been waiting for....It's not a childbirth education course--it's about navigating your care in the hospital. In just 30 minutes, you’ll learn the essentials about routine care in hospitals, birth plans, hospital policies, hospital consent forms, and your most basic rights. (The Professional package of the class is also an amazing tool for doulas.) Learn more (and watch the short video I made--eek) at BirthMonopoly.com/3-Things!
Enrollment isopen July 1 – July 31 only. Don't miss it!