As a doula, I find that clients often seek an answer to difficult decisions they must make by asking what I would do if I were them. Though it is very tempting to take that chance to give my personal preferences, it rarely helps to empower the couple and even worse–can undermine their self-confidence as parents.
It is important to never abuse the authority a doula has with her clients, by forcing our own preferences on to our clients, no matter how deeply we feel about them. Instead is it best to help them find out what it is THEY really want to do. Some ways of accomplishing this are by helping them access their own intuition and feelings. As it is not at all unusual for a client to feel like they are not “knowledgeable” or “educated” enough to be allowed to have an opinion on a medical matter, it is important for doulas (and other health care providers) to help them find the information they do need to make important decisions. It doesn’t take a medical degree to make one worthy of asking important questions and being a part of their own health care decisions. It just takes some education, research and learning which questions to ask.
When trying to find out how a client is truly feeling avoid asking questions that instigate predicable answers such as, “what are you thinking about?”, which usually met with a “nothing”. Instead, trying re-phrasing words in a way that give the parent(s) permission to access their own feelings, such as, “so tell me what’s going your through your mind right now.” This is a great way to get the ball rolling and help them figure out what they want, and even to help them formulate what questions they should be asking their health care providers. What a client needs most from a doula during the difficult times is to know that you believe in them and their ability to work through their problems or trials successfully. And also, sometimes a warm hug or a back rub when necessary.
It’s important as a health care professional to always keep a firm distinction between what YOU want to do for your clients, and what they actually need from you. Though we should always be highly educated in the physical and biological aspect of birth, the most important thing to we bring to the table is our ability to show mom (and even dad) how to trust their own instincts as parents.
And always remember that there IS a proper place to showcase your opinions and beliefs; become an activist on your own time or support others who are! The world needs movers and shakers! They are the ones who pave way so that future moms and dads will be allowed the right to be a part of their own medical decisions.