The Stereotype Doula vs. The Modern Day Doula:
Updated: Jan 20, 2021
When you hear the word birth doula what comes to mind? A hippie burning incense and banging drums? Or maybe a baby catcher? Or maybe those using a doula is also using a midwife or having a home birth? One specific stereotype that kills me is that a doula is only for a mother looking to achieve a natural birth. This could not be further from the truth. I support ALL types of births with no judgement ever. Another stereotype that I hear often is that a doula replaces the supporting husband or partner in the delivery room. It's a valid concern for them to feel this way, and as a doula, I am there to provide support not only to the laboring individual, but the partner as well. Just remember no one knows you better than your husband or partner. They know what you like and don't like, they know what makes you smile, and they know what you feel most comfortable with. They know way more than I could ever learn, and I promise you that I would never take that role away from them. I provide around the clock care while labor is going on, allowing for the supporting person to take a break without feeling guilty. I am there to provide an extra set of hands, so that your partner can focus on you. I am supporting both of you during this time...whatever that may be.
My goal as a doula is to support the client, the client's family, and their birth plan - whatever that may be. I’m educated and informed on all types of births - unmedicated births, medicated births, alternative pain management, inductions, and C-Sections. I do not work better with one birth plan over another, and treat each and every plan equally.
So let’s talk a bit about the role of a postpartum doula. My favorite stereotype is a glorified nanny. Yes, some of the roles that a doula may take on are very similar to that of a nanny, but a doula is NOT a nanny. Like I mentioned above, many postpartum doulas also go through extensive trainings, etc.. to get the name “certified postpartum and infant care doula”. I have the credentials after my name for a reason. In no way am I belittling the job of a nanny, but there is a difference between the two. It sometimes raises a flag when I get an inquiry from a client looking for help 6 months postpartum. That’s not to say that a mother is not struggling that late in the postpartum period, especially with research showing postpartum depression and anxiety is showing up months to even years after a baby is born. An inquiry looking for help 5 days a week for 8 hours a day with a start time of 9am makes me wonder what kind of help they need. I will always listen to my clients and their needs, and based off the conversation, will decide if they truly need a postpartum doula or could save a few dollars and hire a nanny.
So let’s regroup - the modern day doula’s role has evolved over the years and the demand for a doula is definitely on the rise. Doulas are of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. They are educated, hardworking, but also have a compassionate, empathetic, caring, and loving side. Doulas help all types of women, all types of births, and offer a variety of birth and postpartum services. The modern doula believes that all woman deserve continuous support, a voice that is heard, and most importantly, a positive birth and postpartum experience regardless of your birth plan or the outcome.