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I get referrals from doctors and midwives often enough to know that most of them really see the value of hiring a doula for your birth. My own doctor was thrilled a few years ago when I told her I was becoming a doula. She told me she goes to about 5 births per month, and that she really notices what a positive impact doulas have on the birth experience. I find many of my clients contact me because their doctors or midwives informed them that doulas can be an extremely helpful addition to the birth team.
Surprisingly, though, not every medical professional loves it when their clients choose to hire a doula. Although this group seems to be the minority, at least in Vancouver, I think it’s an important issue to address and can be a good way to evaluate your choice in care provider.
With so many doctors and midwives loving what doulas have to offer, what are the reasons some might have for being unsupportive of your choice to hire a doula?
Worrying your doula will challenge their recommendations
Doulas are not medical professionals, and you don’t hire one to make medical diagnoses or prescribe treatments. What doulas can do is to help you ask important questions during birth to make sure you have enough information to make informed decisions about your care.
The only reason I can think of that a hospital or medical professional would have a problem with doulas encouraging their clients to ask informed consent questions would be because they don’t wish to go through the motions of actually following important informed consent guidelines. Even if you don’t want to hire a doula, knowing that your care provider or hospital is threatened by the presence of someone who will potentially insist upon informed consent is a bad sign!
For more information on why informed decision making is so important, read: Understanding Informed Consent.
Believing doulas are an unnecessary expense
Doulas do cost money, some charging more or less based on experience, skill sets, and specialties. And we are decidedly worth it! Research shows that women who hire doulas are happier with their birth experiences and are more likely to avoid medical interventions that have high risks, such as induction, epidurals and cesarean births. In fact, a big reason for why doulas are so effective is because they encourage the informed decision making mentioned above.
This should be viewed as a positive thing! I wouldn’t want to birth with a hospital or care provider that didn’t see value in lowering my likelihood of using interventions with serious side effects and increasing my chance of having a positive birth experience.
Wanting to do the birth support themselves
Birth support is fun! It feels so good to say just the right thing to a birthing woman and watch her relax, or do a hip-squeeze and hear the mom say “Oooh, that feels better!” I can definitely understand why some midwives might feel a little ripped off because the doula mostly takes over that role (in close partnership with the father if he is present).
However, with today’s model of registered midwifery, your midwife is unlikely to be able to provide you with continuous, doula-like support. She is not likely to join and stay with you until you reach the active phase of birthing. Your doula will usually join you long before your midwife does to make sure you feel as comfortable, calm and supported as possible during your early birthing phase. During active birth, your midwife will often be busy charting and taking responsibility for your medical care and won’t be able to focus completely on you and your comfort.
You may want to read The Difference Between Doula and Midwife Explained for a more detailed explanation of their distinct roles.
Having a midwife who loves to do birth support is amazing! Doulas and midwives make a great team, and it’s a bonus if mom has two birth professionals who are there to offer words of encouragement and physical comfort. But when a midwife tells you she will be there to provide support so a doula is unnecessary, it is likely for her own joy of doing some birth support as opposed to making sure you have the continuous support you may want.
Choose a midwife who wants you to make choices based on your needs, not based on which parts of her job she enjoys more.
Ask Your Care Provider: “Do you like doulas?”
When you are beginning to make choices about your birth care provider and location, add “Do you like working with doulas?” to your list of evaluating questions. And if they don’t like doulas, make sure to ask them why. The same goes for choosing where you will give birth (ie, which hospital if you are planning a hospital birth). Regardless of whether or not you actually wish to hire a doula, it’s a good test for how respectful they will be of your choices during pregnancy and birth.
If you actually DO want a doula, and aren’t just looking for ways to suss out your potential caregiver or hospital, give me a call. A free initial interview can help you decide if I’m the right doula for you. 604-700-4115. You can learn more about me here.
Has your care provider given you other reasons for not liking working with doulas? Or do you have feedback about doctors and midwives who enjoy the experience? Please leave your comments below!
Thanks to Chloe Dierkes from Urban Doula for the blog post idea!