Guest post - Mother Mother Doula & The Informed Family. Doulas believe in natural birth, at home, in water, with no drugs. And they will do everything they can to make sure you get that. Right?

Hello, I'm Ruth of Mother Mother, a birth and postnatal doula based in Kent and South London. 

Since starting in the role, I've had quite a number of people say things like 

  • I didn't need a doula because I had an induction

  • A doula wouldnt have liked my birth; I wanted an epidural

  • I wanted a doula, but I didn't want to

This made me a sad. These women had learnt about their options in birth, wanted to, and believed they could, have a good birth experience, but had missed the final hurdle of getting the support that they craved. 

It led me to keep thinking about the schism between

  • Presenting evidence based birth options to women for them to have informed choice

  • Having opinions about said birth options and offering unbiased guidance

I really wanted to work out how to explain the position and role of a doula with these things in mind. I'm not sure I've cracked it, but I'm going to give it a go.

So, to answer the question in the title  Doulas believe in natural birth, at home, in water, with no drugs. And they will do everything they can to make sure you get that. Right?

No. Just no.

And can we all stop refering to vaginal birth as "natural" birth? 

A doula, like pretty much any other human, has opinions and preferences for her own life choices.  A doula might wear jeans and t-shirts everyday and eat pizza for breakfast on Saturday. She might not like green beans or the way tights feel on her feet. She might be allergic to penicillin and addicted to caffeine. She might be a mother, or she might not. Maybe she had a planned C-section and wears her scar with pride. 

It really doesn't matter. She definitely will not be you.  

A doula - if conforming to the Doula UK training and practise code of conduct - will not have a personal opinion about how you should experience pregnancy, birth and parenting. Except for that you should have choices, be respected and have your voice listened to.

She will have a wide and deep knowledge of options for how you could give birth. And she will promote and protect your freedom to make an informed choice over almost anything else. 

I think there is a tendancy for doulas to be more likely to personally be part of an alternative movement towards birthing in a way closest to the biological norm. And I can understand how that can be conflated to mean that they have an agenda for you and your birth. But this is not the case.

For example, if your doula eats meat but you don't, you wouldn't expect her to encourage you to eat meat. In the same way that if she would prefer to have an epidural herself, she will not advise that you do. That is totally outside of her scope.

When she does her job right, a doula should leave you feeling:

  • Stronger

  • Heard & understood

  • More sure of yourself

Sure, we all have bad days, but you certainly shouldn't feel judged, or that your informed decision is not right. There is no right, there is right for you.