This is for everyone.
The new doulas
The old doulas
And anyone in between who might attend a birth
Remember who this is about.
The births are never about you. Don't try to impress, don't make it about money or numbers, and don't override, over talk, or undermine- the partner, the care provider, or the laboring woman. This is about her, her baby, and her family.
You are not the hero, so humble yourself and remove any inkling of your own desires, experiences, and needs, from your head and heart, before entering the laboring woman's space.
Keep your experience with another's birth, private.
Be aware of your social media posts and when talking to other people about a birth/client. It's easy to identify a woman due to have a baby, simply through social media clues, so be aware of your posting.
Permission is an absolute before sharing photos, stories or experiences. Remember it is not about YOUR experience.
Labor should be quiet time for all the parties involved, besides the laboring woman of course.
Avoid discussions in general. The atmosphere and energy should be focused on either paying attention to mom, or intentionally giving her space. Discussions should happen outside of mothers earshot, whispering and quiet. Discussions, laughter, outside noise -
These can cause the laboring woman to lose her focus, become distracted or upset, or to feel unimportant.
Do not invite outside parties.
This is not your birth. This is a private event, and the laboring woman should INVITE anyone and everyone who attends.
*For doulas who have students shadowing, or an assistant shadowing, this should be covered in your contract and your clients can decide if they are comfortable with a second attendee. In the home birth community, it's best to confirm with the midwife if this is reasonable, as per the care being provided, and the midwife's recommendation.
(If a woman is sensitive or has a history of stalled labors, the midwife may decide this isn't in her client's best interest)
Ask for permission every time you touch the laboring woman
Do not assume everyone wants hands on contact. Ask before touching, every time. Continue to quietly ask for feedback if you are using hands on techniques.
Watch for cues on her comfort level with your touch (a light cringe or pulling away, or a shot glance, might mean that she isn't comfortable, but might not say so)
Know when to stop and start relief techniques
Besides feedback, knowing when to release counter pressure and when to apply is important. Rebozo, counter pressure, and other techniques are often best used DURING contractions, slowly releasing as the contraction fades. Then as the contraction builds again, ask if the technique was working, and if she'd like you to use it again.
Professionalism is vital
You build a name for yourself, and for doulas as a whole, when you are professional. This means dress, language, and maintaining your role and scope of practice.
*This means you don't offer clinical advice to your clients or their care provider. You don't discuss other clients, gossip about other birth workers, and you keep any words or thoughts that are not 100% focused on the laboring woman, to yourself.
Stay tuned or subscribe for more like this and dos and donts part two! The list gets better I promise!