If you have ever googled "what to ask a doula at an interview" nearly every single list will say "Ask your doula's birth philosophy". Technically, as a doula I am supposed to be the unbiased, non-judgemental, support person. So, it doesn't leave much room for a philosophy... but does it ever actually play out that way? For some doulas, yes it does, and for other doulas, thats a big fat no. Me? I find I am somewhere in the middle. No, I don't judge your decisions, and yes, I find I am fairly unbiased. I think all my clients would agree with that.
My philosophy has developed and morphed over time, and I am sure it will morph again in a few years with different experiences.
Originally, I came into being a doula to help women have NATURAL UNMEDICATED BIRTHS. Now? That makes me want to vomit. Are natural and unmedicated births incredible? Absolutely, but they're a lot of work, thats usually worth it, but lets face it, birth doesn't always happen that way. AND THAT IS OK!
Today? I don't care how you birth. I don't care if you want an epidural or not, or if you plan a cesarean or plan an intervention free birth. I don't care if you plan a hospital birth or a home birth. I don't care if you give birth on your back or kneeling over a bed.
Here are the top 3 things I do care about as your doula:
1) Accurate information. I care about what you're being told. If I am hearing your care provider, nurse, mother-in-law, or friend give you old-school, false, biased, or judgmental information then I am going to feel things. I don't know if those feelings are a motherly protective instinct, or a "that's not what the studies have proven to be accurate" feeling, or what to call it. I just know that I want you to have accurate, up to date information to make decisions on. Evidence based information matters. Out-of-hospital childbirth education classes matter. Why does this matter? because, not only does it create healthier outcomes for babies and parents, it also plays into #2.
2) No Fear. I don't want you to be afraid, I want you to be confident. Birth is normal and natural, for most families. Fear plays a massive role in labor. It will make the difference on whether you trust your body and the process of labor, or if you fight every single contraction, make it more painful, scream through it, and it winds up traumatizing. When you have #1, you are more likely to feel confident in your decisions, in your body, in the process of labor, and you can normally let go of a lot of anxiety. When you let go of fear, you can have a more positive birth experience. A person who is confident, positive, and accepting of labor and birth, can work with the sensations of birth, breathe through them, and has a less likely chance of a traumatizing birth experience and that is whether things go as planned or not! You need to feel safe and confident no matter where or how you're birthing. Yes, NEED.
3) Your care provider. Can I support any client with any OB/midwife in any hospital? I sure can. Does that mean its what is best for you? Definitely not. Look, doulas don't come in with some magic wand that is going to make a hostile care provider go away, or "save you" from an intervention-happy hospital. I'm not going to yell at your doctor for you, slap hands away, or give you medical advice against your doctor's medical advice. I will give you information to speak with your doctor about options and suggest second opinions if necessary though (p.s. If I am suggesting that, its usually for a good reason). My biggest work during pregnancy is making sure you're with the right provider for your plans, and to make sure that they are giving you #1 and #2, respecting you, and involving you in your care. When you have the right provider for your birth plan, and you're all on the same page, THAT is when the magic happens. That is when #2 can happen as well. You feel heard, you feel respected, you are being given evidence-based care with a provider who discusses benefits/risks/alternatives with you. You're much less likely going to walk away from that birth saying "well my doctor never told me that", "I didn't know I could do that", "I didn't know I could say no", or "if only I had known". It affects this pregnancy, this birth, which also affects risks in your fertility, next pregnancy, and your next birth. When you aren't in line with your provider, you're going to go into birth with fists up, ready for a fight, which creates adrenaline and fear (which inhibits labor!). Then you're not going to trust your doctor when recommendations are given if plans need to change. Trust me, your doctor doesn't want that either. I can't save you from a bad relationship. I can give you the information for YOU to save YOU. Now that is true empowerment! If you don't happen to use the information, thats fine too. I'll still be there with you, supporting you through your experience. I will always do my best to help you say involved in your care, understand what is happening, and help you to meet your goals, no matter what.
My birth philosophy in a nutshell is to get with an awesome provider, take an out-of-hospital childbirth education class, and tell yourself every day that birth is amazing, powerful, a miracle, and that you can do it with confidence. There is definitely more information I can go into to help your birth experience, but I guess you'll just have to hire me to find out the rest ;)