A Doula is NOT a Medical Professional
I am in a various number of online moms groups, homebirth groups and doula groups and I see this trend of doulas being confused with medical professionals almost daily and I just want to shout it from the roof tops "DOULAS ARE NOT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS."
Some medical professionals are also doulas or act as doulas. Some midwives become a doula for their client if there is a need for transfer of care. Many L&D nurses have been trained as doulas to better support women on birth floors and some medical professionals become doulas later on because they want to do something different. I am not talking about them.
I am talking about the majority of doulas who like me, wanted to be involved in birth and took various trainings on how to be a support person in labor, but don't have a background in medical training (that will be changing).
I sometimes get an email that goes something like this...
My name is Jane Doe, and I am due in two months and I am planning a homebirth with out a midwife but my friend says I should have a doula present in the event that anything goes wrong, the doula would be there to help.
I see similar conversations in homebirth groups all the time. I make sure to do my due diligence and let people know that "while a doula is a fantastic person for physical and emotional support during labor we are not trained to help if something goes wrong with your birth."
A midwife is medically trained for birth, a doula is not.
Sometimes a post in a doula group goes up and it says something along the lines of...
My client is being given an emergency induction for *insert reason here." And I don't feel like it is necessary and how should I talk to them about it?
In the modern age of technology and social media we have access to so much information about birth and medical interventions, it's amazing. So it is hard, when we watch our clients who we have already spent so much time with and bonded with going down a route they originally did not want. If they didn't ask for our input, it is our job as doulas to support them rather then handing them a stack of studies they can read. I like to discuss this prenatally with my clients, because I do have some clients who want me to wave red flags when I see something.
So when I see this question, my response is always "how does your client feel about it? Did you discuss interventions and how they would like to proceed with them prenatally?"
Doula's should always defer to care providers when discussing medical decisions
Often times when a client calls me to tell me they think they are in labor one of the first things out of my mouth is "did you call your midwife/hospital?" Usually if they have already called their care provider and if they haven't already called I recommend that they do. While I can recognize signs of labor, a midwife or L&D nurse is going to have a better idea of when they should go to the birth center or when the midwife should come to them.
We can't make medical decisions for our clients. That is between them and their care provider. We can discuss how they feel about them and give information if they ask for it. Ultimately it is up to our clients to make the right decision for them and their family and it is up to us to support them.
I trust my clients. I trust that they know what is best for them and if they need to discuss their options with me they will.