Doulas face a challenge: after many years of service and hard work, our value is finally recognized, but now with COVID-19, we find ourselves cast out of hospitals.
It took us a very long time to get public recognition. Until not long ago, only a minority of expectant individuals knew what a doula is. I believe that it took too long for two main reasons:
- The refusal of the health care system to acknowledge the value of a doula, which makes it an out of pocket service, and quite an expensive one.
- The affiliation of doulas with natural or unmedicated childbirth; an experience that doesn’t really resonate with the majority of birth givers.
Doulas finally received recognition and then came COVID-19. Our challenge is to convince prospective clients to hire us during this time
Some of the most heartbreaking news that doulas received along with the outbreak of COVID-19 was that we are banned from hospitals. Many of us were already committed to couples and families that we have come to love and care for, and with the increased level of uncertainty and fear, we knew that our clients needed us even more. As the numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to increase, it becomes clear that this crisis might last as long as a year or even more, raising a growing concern about doulas’ source of income. As upsetting and tormenting as this ban might be, the current crisis bears an opportunity; an opportunity to achieve work-life balance.
In light of the current social distancing imposed on us due to COVID-19, Birth Coach Method is giving away free access to lesson #4 of the Birth Support Coaching Course-‘Prenatal Coaching’! We hope that it will help you as you keep providing valuable and necessary support for expectant individuals using online communication platforms (Facetime, Zoom, etc.)
Birth workers are mastering strategies that relieve fear and doubt!
Our lives have been changing rapidly lately. In the past few weeks, the whole world has been reacting to COVID-19 with our fight-or-flight (FOF) response. Being alert and living every day on our survival mechanism might be as dangerous as the virus itself, if not more dangerous. We, birth workers, are experts in preventing or reversing the FOF response that leads to labor arrest. We are experts in managing the fear of pain and of what’s unpredictable or unknown. Psychotherapists might help their patients cope with anxiety and fear in a process that lasts weeks, months or years. However, we, birth workers, are first responders specializing in saving people from fear and doubt.
I am called to support my colleague and friend. How do I step up for her and make a difference?
I have been practicing as a doula for almost three years. I’ve also certified in the Birth Coach Method as a birth support coach and am extremely grateful for the training I received under Neri Choma. I love this role of supporting families. My main goal is for them to feel supported and loved as they welcome their baby to the world. I was a teacher for over ten years prior to launching my doula career, so planning and organizing was a big part of what I did. I like structure. As a doula, I try to structure my prenatal sessions. It helps me get to know the needs and goals of my clients in a systematic way and to understand how to support them and meet them where they are at. As part of my service, I also fill in any educational gaps as needed. I want to help them understand their options.
But what happens when I have a client who is a doula? How do I inform her? Do I just offer labor support and skip all my sessions with her? I usually offer each client three to four sessions. This client didn’t need to practice the tools of labor support with me since she is a trained doula and prenatal yoga instructor. She also had taken a childbirth class with her partner. So I felt like the bulk of what I usually offer my clients was off the table.
I needed to go beyond informing and all the way to coaching.
Doulas’ Dilemma #2: The Doula Scope of Practice
This is the second blog in a series of three that I began writing in November. I am very passionate about the doula profession. That’s why I feel called to write this series before it is too late. And by “too late” I mean that I think our profession is in danger. Being a doula trainer and at the same time an approved continuing education provider for obstetric nurses, allows me to be connected and empathetic to both sides of the conflict – doula and medical caregivers. On top of listening to nurses’ pain points in their relationships with doulas, I recently have been invited to speak at a few OBGYN and midwives’ practices and heard that they are on the verge of banning doulas
Additionally, recent events confirm what I have been fearing – the current practice of doulas’ who share evidence-based information that supports better obstetric practice (while not being medically trained and bearing no liability for their clients’ health) is going to hurt us.
- It puts our relationships with medical caregivers at risk.
- It will lead more cities to follow New York in attempts to license doulas.
- It will lead our best friends – hospital-based midwives – to ban doulas or have blacklists of unwanted doulas that they don’t trust.
- It might also make it harder for us to find paying clients because they hear more and more stories about doulas who break the trust and rapport that couples have established with their medical providers.
Since the seventies, those who provide education and support to birthing individuals have all been called ‘Labor Coaches’. In that group are childbirth educators who teach about childbirth and deliver a body of knowledge, usually in a group setting. Also in that group are doulas who are trained to provide emotional, physical and informational continuous support throughout the birth. We all got used to thinking about childbirth as an event in which our role is to help the birth giver cope with labor strains while providing information, reassurance, and applying comfort measures.
On the other hand, coaching, a growing industry generating $11 billion in the USA, is an entirely different practice that stands by itself. It is the practice of leading competent and healthy individuals to optimally perform in order to achieve their goals.
Birth support coaches that are trained here at the Birth Coach Method, likewise, are also trained to coach expectant individuals towards achieving their desired birth experience.
Prenatal yoga instructors, you are first in line
Out of all the birth support professionals, prenatal yoga instructors probably are the ones to begin supporting expectant individuals the earliest along their journey of pregnancy and childbirth. From a coaching perspective, I see it as a huge advantage, so if you’re a prenatal yoga instructor, you can make miracles leading and empowering expectant mothers to strongly hold not only yoga poses but important convictions about their childbirth experience. Just like the practice of yoga helps individuals to connect with their breath and their body, coaching strategies help them connect with their beliefs, inner truth, values, and needs.
Are you curious about what happens in our Birth Support Coaching course?
It’s exciting to lead the first group of birth professionals who joined the Birth Coach Method’s first coaching course. We have participants from all around the globe: The Netherlands, Israel, and the US (East and West Coast). We all come together on consecutive Tuesdays for eight weeks using the Zoom platform. It is a group mentoring session in which I get to expand on the topic of the current lesson studied prior to the meeting. In addition to highlighting important concepts, we all brainstorm scenarios and engage in powerful coaching exercises.
Exciting steps towards improved communication between L&D nurses and their patients
I’m constantly searching for coaching props and strategies that can help me coach expectant parents throughout pregnancy and childbirth. I have been developing tools and strategies for some time now and excitedly shared them with the community of birth support pros in previous posts and in my book. So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a few resources affirming the use of white dry-erase boards in L&D for improving communication and maternal care.
Are your birth clients overwhelmed by the overload of information?
Being overwhelmed by the overload of information is a state of consciousness that many expectant couples struggle with. It disempowers and damages their ability to make mindful decisions and perform well. Beating it requires a shift in our practice rather than providing more information. You can help your birth clients beat this overwhelm by coaching them.
In my practice, I often encounter the overwhelm that my clients
experience being overloaded with information. Seriously, it feels like it enters the room when they do. How often are you being called to resolve this overwhelm as a childbirth educator or a doula? There are conflicting opinions and expectant parents don’t know what advice to take or what to believe while all along trying to do the right thing; they want to find what is best for the mother and the baby. The overload of information creates a ‘noise’ that interrupts our internal conversations with ourselves. Feeling overwhelmed is not only disempowering, but it’s also exhausting.