That New York Times Doula Article
On Sunday, the New York Times ran a piece, “And Doula Makes Four,” which is very critical of doulas who interject themselves into the birth and have their own agenda for how birth should go, such as whether the woman should receive pain meds. One women said of her doula, “She was so set on my having a natural birth, she offended me, she offended the nursing staff, she offended my O.B.” One doula is quoted as indicating that she will not take on clients who may consider having an epidural (she seems to be some mix of philosophically opposed and not interested), and providers interviewed were critical of doulas’ interference in medical decision-making.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of this piece. I find it difficult to believe that all doulas are this way, yet the Times didn’t go out of their way to offer different perspectives from other doulas, so the overall impression is of meddling busybodies who shouldn’t be there. Professionally, if you look at the DONA code of ethics, that really shouldn’t be the case – it states, “The doula should make every effort to foster maximum self-determination on the part of her clients,” which I would interpret to mean that they are there to help fulfill the wants and needs of the woman, not to try to override her decisions. Again, I don’t think this is the case with all doulas, and I think the article should have done better about presenting other viewpoints.
I’ve been kind of kicking around the doula topic since I read the NY Times piece. One woman interviewed for the story said, “The doula was supposed to be my advocate at the hospital and help us carry out our birth plan.” I don’t really get that. I have respect for the comfort measures a doula can provide. Ultimately, I don’t want anyone else thinking they are responsible for having my care and experience go a certain way, even if I change my mind, though – that’s my job. I’d be very interested in what you all think about the “proper” role of doulas, and whether talking about the “proper” role of a group of helping women is obnoxious in the first place. No flames please, just discussion.