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What does a doula do?

The most common question I get:  What exactly does a doula do?

I can’t speak for all doulas but I don’t have a “scope of practice.”  I do whatever my families need me to do.  There is no “exactly.”  I’m going to do a series, then, on what we do–in general.  I’ll carry it on until 1)  I get tired of it.  2)  I forget about it.  or 3) I reach the end of all that doulas do (which means I’ll post about it forever).

Today I’m going to look at one thing I do.

I ask questions. 

I didn’t go to medical school.  I’m not a midwife.  I don’t read obstetric textbooks in my spare time (anymore).  I don’t know all the answers.  Sure I keep up with some research.  I peruse the Cochrane database and read blogs like this and this.  I have a doctor and a midwife on speed dial when I have burning questions.  But I don’t kid myself into thinking that I have some special knowledge.  I probably know enough to be dangerous.  Which is why… 

I ask questions. 

To the family, questions like “Have you considered?”  “What is most important to you?”  “What would that look like to you?”  I carve out the space for families to ask their questions, express their concerns, tease out informed consent.   

To the caregiver, “Can we wait?”  “Could they go home?”  “Could we try?”  “What are the benefits? risks? alternatives?”  “Can we wait?”  “Can we wait?”  “Can we wait?”

I ask questions.

I do not make decisions for families.  That is the glorious privilege of the new parents.  My job is to support them in whatever decision they make.

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