I don’t want to dwell on this subject too much, but as it has raised interest and some ire, I thought I’d share with you an email, one of many, that I received from those who had similarly unfortunate experiences with doulas. Most of these emails have been from mothers who used doulas and wanted to relay the difficulties they had. But here is one email I received yesterday from a former doula:
Many doulas “stay in the box” and limit their role to comfort and support. Sadly, as you have discovered, there are doulas, birth assistants and lay midwives who are practicing medicine far beyond their scope, sometime with serious consequences. In the Washington, DC area, they have a cult-like following and actively recruit new members with false claims and promises. They falsify official documents (i.e. birth records and birth certificates) and often buy tramadol online practice without insurance or supervision. It is these women who have made such a bad name for doulas and others in the birth community.
Well, I must say, this is one thing I hadn’t come across in my research, so I can’t corroborate. But if it’s true, that’s alarming! Has anyone else witnessed anything like this?
The more common issue that I encountered was doulas performing vaginal exams, despite the explicit objections of DONA. After Penny Simkin mediated a dispute where an uncertified doula was caught performing a vaginal exam and doulas were thrown off a hospital ward, she issued guidelines to prevent a “doula backlash,” urging doulas not to perform clinical care, question, or contradict a caregiver’s authority or control management.
Would love to hear thoughts on either issue, neither of which made it into the NYT story.