According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) and the National Center for Health Statistics (part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) – in December 2008 – they released new findings on Americans’ use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The findings are from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), an annual in-person survey of Americans regarding their health- and illness-related experiences.

Based on this research, about 38% of American adults, an estimated 4 in 10, are seeking healthcare that combines alternative and conventional wisdom and care. So why should we care about this research as birth workers? To demonstrate your value, you need to understand what your client’s are looking for. Insurance companies have, now paying for doula care. Many mothers want you AND their doctors. We are capable of supporting that desire.

Our network brings value to our client’s lives. If we as doulas and midwives have strategic partnerships with conventional medical doctors, we can be the bridge that ensures client’s get the best of both worlds. When your client makes it clear that she trusts her conventional doctors, honor that by building relationships with those she trusts. This directly benefits the mother.

Here are some key ways we can start building a CAM approach into our services:

  • Build partnerships with the OBGYN’s in your region : Set up 10 minute introductory meetings with them, ask to leave information for their patients, and depending on the space, see if you can add value with free workshops introducing the value of doula care.
  • Be prepared to demonstrate your value : Do you have testimonials or a professional portfolio of your services? Do you have data not just for the value of doula care, but the value of the doula care you provide? For example, if you have supported 30 moms, what are your stats for healthier birth outcomes with those moms. Also, what is it about you specifically, that is valuable as a birth worker and can benefit that medical practice.
  • Learn to “speak all languages” : Understand the values of OBGYN’s in providing care for their patients and learn to speak that language. Every OBGYN office has its own culture and priorities. Study that, learn it, and become a part of it.
  • Master “Non-Aggressive” Advocacy : When appropriate, advocate for the best interests of the mother, but to ensure you do this in a way that is better received, already have a positive relationship with the doctors caring for your clients. Be solutionary.

In an ideal world everyone would get along in a way that ensures the best interests of the mother. Although many times this is not the case for doulas, the times are changing. Be a part of the change in a way that not only makes your services memorable for families but for conventional healthcare professionals as well.

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