Since becoming a doula, the nature of networking has changed for me. Instead of figuring out who I know, folks now are trying to figure out exactly what I do. While this profession is more popular in the DC metro area than many parts of the country, a good number of people have never heard of a doula before. I’m always thrilled to be the first to talk about it.
When I tell them that I focus on providing comfort, support and resources to new parents, most people think that it’s a wonderful service. Especially those who have navigated pregnancy and the postpartum period without much help.
Every once in awhile though, I get an interesting question. How I can do this when I’m currently childfree? Just the other weekend, I met a young woman who was certain that I “couldn’t tell [her] how to do something that [I] had never done.” Even once I pointed out that we don’t ask our dentists if they’ve had root canals, or question the qualifications of male OB/GYNs, she seemed convinced I wasn’t qualified for my job. I’ll save the sass, and give you two reasons this logic doesn’t hold:
First and foremost, your doula’s personal experiences around birth and parenting don’t matter.
What I would do in a particular situation that a client faces is completely irrelevant. Because I’m there solely to make sure that you feel good about your decisions. I believe that you will figure out exactly what is best for your body and baby and all you need is a little support. Every birth and postpartum journey is different, and I respect that.
Secondly, I never tell a client what to do. Well, that’s not true. I strongly encourage that new mothers nap, and I push water like I’m making a commission. But outside of selfcare reminders, or moments where practical guidance is needed in labor (“push where you feel the doctor’s fingers” usually works well), all of the decisions are yours. I am great at helping you gather information that you need, and I’m an excellent cheerleader. And I will wholeheartedly believe in your capabilities.
I actually think it’s a selling point I got into this work as a blank slate, because unlike anyone else in your life, I can be completely objective. When you turn to me at a vulnerable moment, you will never hear a story about what I did with my first, you’ll only hear “So, tell me what you’re thinking? What do you feel would be best to do next?”
***Please note, I know many wonderful doulas with children. All of the birth professionals that I know and respect serve clients who have very different experiences from their own birth story. I just think supporting births before I’ve had any gives me a unique and important perspective.