I received a frustrated message from a BA reader. It detailed her inability to meet a certification requirement for her doula training that she has been working tirelessly on for the past 2 years.
The unattainable requirement?
A completed evaluation on the student doula by her client’s primary care providers (the physician or midwife). This student doula’s frustration was with the organization’s lack of flexibility and compassion with her situation. I sympathize with her, but the situation also raised much broader concerns.
When women are routinely coerced, condescended, and verbally and physically violated in the maternity care system, do we really expect a care provider within that system to be able to assess a doula’s value?
When the majority of physicians feel that medicating a woman for labor and birth is the best way for her to give birth, do we really value their determination of whether or not a doula’s techniques effectively provided physical support for the mother?
When a woman’s emotional state is not valued by her care providers, how are we to expect them to consider a question about the emotional relief that a doula’s techniques provide?
When a woman’s support people are generally ignored, how is the staff supposed to answer questions about whether or not a doula seemed helpful to those people?
What purpose does an evaluation on a doula serve…
- from a profession who largely does not understand doulas,
- who largely work adversarially with doulas,
- and who function under a model of care that is contrary to woman-centered care?
When the standard of care in the present maternity care system is rife with abuse, disrespect, and non-evidence based care, I don’t know that I give a rat’s ass what that institution’s employee has to say about a student doula’s effectiveness.
We all hope for a day when doulas are considered a “valued team member,” but I must ask, whose team? Or more importantly, whose values?
Hospitals are, more and more, setting up barriers to women’s ability to access professional doulas. Hospitals craft doula agreements, for example, which range from a contract a doula must sign – agreeing, essentially, that they are on hospital “turf” – to the more aggressive models – (like one Florida hospital) that require doulas to operate as sort of independent contractors of the hospital – requiring TB tests, mandatory vaccines, background checks, and a HIPAA class.
THIS, my sisters, is part of the problem.
* To read more about this reader’s account, please visit her facebook post, which details her experience.