Resolving the Advocacy Dilemma in the Doula Practice
Recent reforms in maternal care emphasize the importance of providing patient-centered care, and doulas can facilitate the patient’s autonomy in childbirth by coaching and advocating. However, the advocacy dilemma in the field of childbirth support is a tough one to crack. The dilemma lies in the tension between certain components of birth support practice, such as serving and supporting, and other components such as being a change agent in our society and a birth activist. Relying on coaching principles and strategies will help you to make sure you practice within the scope of your practice, and to refrain from projecting or engaging any birth activism agenda in your relationships with your birth clients. Coaching is the pathway to client-centered relationships and care.
If we begin by asking expectant couples strong coaching questions, with the goal of clarifying their beliefs about childbirth and their goals for their birth, it will build the foundation for advocacy of a different kind. Advocacy that doesn’t represent an expert’s authority but rather empathy and partnership. Advocacy that begins with individual needs and beliefs. We will then find ourselves introducing evidence-based resources that are aligned with our client’s personal needs and capacity, and eventually, I believe it will bring more couples to take childbirth education classes and hire doulas.
Join the growing community of doulas who already integrate coaching into their practice, and feel the difference; it will empower you and your clients!