It's Day 3 of the World Doula Week Blog Challenge, and today’s prompt is to address a common doula stereotype. We had such a hard time with this one because there are so many! So let’s just call out a few to get past them…
Doulas are only for families planning a natural birth (isn’t all birth natural?!), or that we’re all crunchy hippies wearing long flowing skirts and Birkenstock sandals. (Come on, you know you are picturing her already!) Doulas are advocates. (Well, no. We absolutely do not advocate for our clients. We support them as they find and use their own voice.) Doulas deliver babies. (Eek! No thank you very much!! We are very happy to leave all medical care and advice for our clients in the capable and skilled hands of their Doctors, Nurses and/or Midwives.)
While there are lots of ways our job is misunderstood, one of the stereotypes we at Doulas of Asheville have the hardest time with is the assumption that because we are doulas, we bring any sort of expectation, agenda, or bias to your birth or postpartum experience.
Doulas of Asheville co-owner, Elizabeth Pauley (who also happens to be an amazing RN) had this to say:
“As soon as the words ‘I’m a doula’ come out of my mouth I immediately feel the need to explain. I want to quickly say, ‘but I’m not that doula! I don’t believe there is one right way to give birth. I don’t believe there is one right way to feed a baby. I don’t believe any one parenting philosophy is right for every family. I am professionally trained to support my clients in identifying and achieving their own goals. For me, being a doula is a profession, not a philosophy’.”
Let that sink in for a moment. Being a doula is a profession, not a philosophy. To us, being a doula means to provide unconditional support. It means we are professionals and our job is to attune to your needs and your style. It means the only agenda we bring to your birth or your postpartum experience is an unwavering commitment to supporting you, your way.
Whether you feel best gathering all the information you possibly can and taking all the classes you can find, or you prefer to leave the decision making about what's best for you and your baby to your chosen medical care provider, we support you.
Continuing to bust doula stereotypes, Elizabeth goes on to say,
“I didn’t become a doula because I get an emotional high from being with women as they give birth. I became a doula because after nine years of being a nurse I discovered my passion was being able to give truly unbiased, agenda-free support. I get to do this as a professional doula. I get to really listen to women and their partners and support them in achieving their birth or postpartum goals. Sometimes that support looks like a planned epidural / unmedicated birth / exclusively pumping / breastfeeding support / formula feeding / nighttime sleep coaching... whatever my clients desire, I support them.”
Most importantly, our support comes 100% free of judgement.
It’s getting easier for us to bust this particular doula stereotype as the profession becomes more, well… professional. Doula certifying organizations like ProDoula are really helping with this! Our dream is that one day - hopefully soon - we won’t feel the need to explain that we’re not “those” kind of doulas.
We are looking forward to a time when we can proudly say “I am a professional doula” and know that whoever we are speaking with understands that means we provide unbiased, unwavering, and unconditional support to families as they give birth and adjust to life with a newborn.
If you are looking for support as you plan to give birth or as you navigate life with a new baby, we'd love to talk with you about how a Doulas of Asheville Postpartum Doula or Birth Doula can help. Contact us!