When I got out of high school, I knew I would go to college, it wasn’t even a question. I picked a major in Computer Science because, well, I can’t really offer a reason. I think because I knew there’d be a job for me at the end of it; but I had no affinity for it. I can’t even say I knew what it really was. That probably should have been my first red flag.
Our language has a profound impact on our thoughts and beliefs. Words are powerful. They can create or destroy; increase confidence or insecurity. Some of the common language we use when it comes to birth and babies is disempowering to mothers.
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Many doulas bring a variety of tools to the birthing room - massage tools, lotion, heat packs, etc. - but the tools that will be the most useful won't fit in the suitcase. Who your doula is as a person and as a professional has a far more profound influence on her ability to support you than any device she has in her possession.
Fearmongering. Scare Tactics. Bullying. These accusations are most commonly heard from birth professionals such as doulas and childbirth educators, as well as more natural-minded consumers, in reference to clinical maternity care providers - obstetricians, midwives, or nurses - who are pushing their clients toward increased interventions in pregnancy and birth, usually as a routine matter rather than in response to an actual risk.
The reality is that there are some situations in which greater care, higher responsibility, and increased intervention are needed in order to ensure the best outcome. This is why, at Balanced Birth Services, we are fond of saying:
Care Provider: an individual, such as a physician, nurse, social worker, or paraprofessional, who assists in the identification, prevention, or treatment of an illness or disability.
You may have read that definition and wanted to shout, "pregnancy is not an illness or a disability!" You are correct. In a normal, healthy, uncomplicated pregnancy and birth, the various types of care provided - clinical or otherwise - are more preventive in nature. If complications develop, they need to be identified, and may require treatment.
A good care provider will:
Just as there are signs of a good care provider, there are red flags that let us know when we might be dealing with a scare provider. A scare provider may:
Visualize a scare provider in your mind. Was it Dr. Meanie? Nurse Ratchet? It is important to understand that not all scare providers are clinical. Women are scared into declining medical interventions that they actually need for their own health and safety, or that of their baby. Women are scared into "choosing" a homebirth when that may not be the right environment for them. Women are scared into one type of procedure by providers who create doubt about other types of procedures instead of merely focusing on the positive aspects of their own services. In every service provided - doctors, midwives, nurses, doulas, childbirth educators, placenta encapsulators, any you can think of - there are care providers, and there are scare providers.
Scare providers damage mothers, babies, and families in ways that are sometimes very obvious, and sometimes very subtle. They create doubt in a time when women should be receiving the best care and support. They attack the confidence of women when they are at their most vulnerable. They rob women of the ability and opportunity to enter their parenting journey from a place of strength. Scare providers, regardless of how they market themselves, do not serve women.
Melissa and Ellen are birth doulas, childbirth educators, placenta encapsulation specialists, and Parent Effectiveness Training instructors serving the Denver, CO area. They are passionate about pregnancy, birth, baby care, and parenting. They bring over twenty years of combined experience to their premium childbirth classes, doula support, parenting classes, and placenta encapsulation services in the metro Denver area.