By Beverly Young-Reed, Advisory Board Member, Madriella Doula Network

When I started as a doula over 25 years ago hardly anyone knew what a doula was or did.  

I don’t know how many times I would tell someone what I did as a doula, so I became the voice of what others would think of doulas.  As the years went by I would hear “I don’t need a doula I am going to deliver at a hospital” or “I don’t need a doula I have a midwife”.  And I started to wonder where all this misinformation was coming from.

We have all seen it, the birthing scene on TV where a woman is giving birth and it plays out nothing like what real birth is like?  What I love is the portrayal of doulas on TV or in the movies, you know that one the Birkenstocks wearing, hair weaving, drumming, get in touch with your self, mama hippy doula.  And yet how many of us really beat drums, braid our hair, wear Birkenstocks (ok I do love my Birkenstocks) look or act like the “TV/Movie doula”?  I think we can all agree that “that doula” is rare.

How many times have we heard the story about “That Doula” who fought with the OB to “save” the mom from XYZ? But how many of us would really fight with the medical provider that is caring for our client?

I figured it out, we are all judged for these portrayals of doulas in one way or another.  It could be the person that does not hire a doula because they are only for a home birth, or the OB that will not allow a doula to attend their clients because they have heard that doulas will not respect the OB during the birth.  Then we must work to prove that we are not anything like those portrayals.

In today’s world we have so many more ways to find out information, and to share our ideas and learn from others.  We have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other options that some of us use for marketing of our services.

There is more than the marketing of a business that happens on the internet.  In today’s world there is so much going on in and out of the birthing community and we hear all about it on Facebook, in a blog or on Twitter.  It does not seem to matter where you live or what your position is in the birthing community there are disagreements that are pulling out community apart.

How does this affect us as doulas? 

“That Doula” had to start somewhere, maybe it was someone that had just head the new word Doula and they wanted to do this new thing.  They had no training, or little training and went out and started to work as a doula.  Which is kind of what we did 25 years ago.  Let’s say that this doula had a strong feeling about OB’s and hospital births.  So, she chose to argue with Dr. and talk clients into laboring at home and then encouraging them to go ahead and just deliver there because if they went to the hospital then XYZ would happen.   Then the couple goes and tell’s all their friends, and the OB tells all the other OB’s and “That Doula” was born.

You say no one would be like that, but let me assure you that in my 25 years of working as a birth support person/doula I have met people that have done some of the above things.  I had a doula partner that would talk the family into laboring at home longer than they should and she would end up “accidentally” catching the baby.  The pattern started to show, and the next thing I knew I was the doula that would try to replace the medical professional.  Even though it was not me, it was my partner (whom I quickly parted with once I found out what she was doing.)

It breaks my heart that the birthing community seems to be at a point in history where there are such extreme opinions about so many things. I see it coming out in the doula and midwifery community in hate, arguments, extreme opinions that are blowing up everywhere.  I am going to end with this thought.  When you post about being a doula be careful what you say or do because you are not only representing yourself you are representing all the doulas out there.