On the heels of the recently drafted open letter to the Fed is Best campaign, it occurred to me that many Utah parents might be on the search to build an unbiased team of birth professionals. I’ve got news for you. No one is unbiased. Because of our human experience, level of education, personality quirks, professional acquaintances, passions, and personal trauma (YES! I said trauma.), we ALL come away with fiercely and closely guarded value systems and opinions.
“I’ve got news for you. No one is unbiased.”
The good news is that having biases doesn’t prevent a doula from providing unbiased birth support. The Utah Doula Association actually doesn’t maintain a position on ANY of these divisive statements, in an effort to avoid mixing causes. The Utah Doula Association has a primary purpose: to provide evidence based information, support, and mentorship to doulas of Utah as they seek to provide quality birth and postpartum support to local families. As an organization, the Utah Doula Association is neither for nor against any other cause.
“The Utah Doula Association actually doesn’t maintain a position on ANY of these divisive statements, in the effort to avoid mixing causes.”
Our goal is solely to offer information and support to Utah families who want to find a professional doula to provide continuous physical, emotional and informational support expecting parents before, during and shortly after childbirth to help achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. This singleness of purpose does not prevent interaction with other organizations with compatible purposes, but the Utah Doula Association will carefully guard against mixing causes, however worthwhile that cause may be. Why do we do this, you ask? To create and maintain a unified, focused professional organization, able to work together to support a variety of families from a diverse set of backgrounds and experiences, regardless of differences of opinion on other issues. So, how do you find a doula that will provide you with empathetic unbiased support?
First, turn inward.
Examine your observations and impressions of the doula you hope to hire. What do you feel? If you are looking for a place to see the doula and her interactions, come to a free local event, participate in the Utah Birth Forum, find a support group near you, or watch for guest blogposts by local doulas here, on the UDA blog. Some of my favorites are International Cesarean Awareness Network, La Leche League, and local Positive Birth Groups in the area.
- Do I feel comfortable around this person?
- Is she warm, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable?
- Does she communicate and listen well?
- Does she seek to understand and empathize first?
Next, formulate questions for the doula you are interviewing.
How do the questions you have designed relate to the underpinnings of your own goals and beliefs about childbirth? Take a look here for a list of the top 10 questions to ask in the interview. Observe how she responds to your questions. Does she put you at ease? Does her communication style and skillset empower you? Do you think clearly in her presence?
Know that the interview process is more about you finding who is the most comfortable fit for you. There isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it, as long as you find the fit you are looking for. A good doula will listen to you, hold space for you, and tailor referrals to your needs and hopes for the future in the event that she isn’t the absolute best fit for you.
- Are you looking for someone who mirrors your thought process or who sets aside their own thoughts and experience in order to focus solely on you?
- Will she support your choices or will she bring her own agenda into your birthing space?
“Bias and advocacy aren’t the enemy, a pervasive and divisive agenda is.”
Bias and advocacy aren’t the enemy, a pervasive and divisive agenda is. Consider having a conversation about your/her biases, and ponder on how they might influence your hopes for the future. In the interest of transparency and to satisfy your curiosity, here is a list of MY biases.
- Kindness is always the answer.
- The best provider will be one who believes in your ability to birth your baby. Find a caregiver/hospital who ALREADY provides the options you want as an outgrowth of their birth philosophy and confidence in you.
- My doula practice believes in purposeful inclusion of all people. Every family who hires me will receive the best of me and my skillset; irrespective of birthing philosophy, age, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender and its expression, family structure, marital status, race, cultural identity, nationality, mental and physical health/ability, political perspective, and educational/class status.
- Breastmilk is the superior infant food, but it won’t be the best choice for every family. “Fed is required. Breast is the biological norm. Making informed choices is best.”
- I am a combat veteran of the United States Air Force, and that comes with a different perspective than many other birth workers out there. You are not a “birth warrior”. You are so much more than that. You are a creator of goodness, a safe haven of peace and nurture, a normal woman who can call on the warrior when needed just like every other woman in your birth lineage going back centuries. You are enough, and that is extraordinary. Together, we make a good team.
***I recognize that not all doulas are female, however for simplicity and readability of this post, I refer to doulas using female pronouns.***