Debuting my blog on a bittersweet note, I’d like to point to a story I wrote in yesterday’s New York Times on doulas and lactation consultants. The story is about how with the increased use of doulas and LCs, has come a (not surprising) increase in conflicts. I hoped to provide a balanced view of the issue, because I think expectant and new mothers can use (almost) all the help they can get. However, I’ve heard and I reported on an unfortunate number of negative experiences with practitioners in both fields. At heart, as I write in the piece, is a lack of standardization and oversight. Anyone can call themselves a doula, and there is a tangle of organizations that accredit LCs, some requiring only a weekend workshop. (Anyone who has breastfed can attest that the complications that arise might require a bit more expertise than that!)
To my surprise, I have received a lot of flack from doulas and from breastfeeding moms (of which I am one). Many felt that I attacked doulas unfairly and didn’t properly give credit to either field. I actually thought (and hope) I treated both with respect. Perhaps the story will lead to improvements in standardization in both fields, or at least to more diligence among parents who want to hire either one (or both). I think the shared goal here is to make sure all women get the support they need in childrearing.