In response to my article “Three Things Your Doula Can’t Tell You,” Doula Trainings International offered the statement at bottom. I believe this is an important discussion to have, as I share this feeling of urgency in how women are supported (and not supported) while giving birth in a dysfunctional system. It seems to me that the binary of the “wallflower” doula vs. the “rogue” doula mirrors stereotypes about women in general–that we are either doormats or troublemakers; that any woman who asks questions or sets healthy boundaries is out of line and “out of her place.” Needless to say, I think that’s…well, hogwash. It’s part of the reason our maternity care system is as dysfunctional as it is!
So, what do you think about the role of doulas and their “place” in our system? Is it changing? Does it need to change? Please keep the discussion here respectful and productive.
At Doula Trainings International, we are challenging these models and stereotypes, which for too long have perpetuated various forms of oppression within our field.
A safe and peaceful birth should not be considered “lucky.” It shouldn’t be seen as a privilege. A safe and healthy birth is a human right. With every passing year, as the medical model continues to ascend and dominate within the birth culture, it becomes ever clearer that doulas can no longer be passive and complacent. Given the current culture of birth, we are convinced that a failure to speak the truth, a failure to inform women and families in ways that challenge power, is to be complicit in the very system we seek to transform. And too many times, it harms the families we support.
DTI is re-imagining the role of doulas today and we have solutions. We are committed to breaking the silence. We are committed to helping our doulas overcome the fears that keep us silent – the fear of being seen as troublemakers, as bad girls, as nuisances, as invisible, as members at a birth who can “only do so much.” We must be willing to acknowledge how these identities impact our profession and as a result, the families we serve.
What we know, based on our collective experience in the field, is that to be a doula in 2015 is to accept one’s role as an activist, and as a change maker. We know that we have the ability to make change through our wisdom, through our strength. Through our love.
Owners, Doula Trainings International
A former communications strategist at a top public affairs firm in Baltimore, Maryland, Cristen Pascucci is the founder of Birth Monopoly, co-creator of the Exposing the Silence Project, and, since 2012, vice president of the national consumer advocacy organization Improving Birth. In that time, she has run an emergency hotline for women facing threats to their legal rights in childbirth, created a viral consumer campaign to “Break the Silence” on trauma and abuse in childbirth, and helped put the maternity care crisis in national media. Today, she is a leading voice for women giving birth, speaking around the country and consulting privately for consumers and professionals on issues related to birth rights and options.