The bartender says to the activist, “what can I get you?”The activist replies, “Water. I don’t drink anything but water. Soda, juice… all bad! They’re full of sugar. Alcohol is poisonous to the body, mind and spirit. It erodes the liver, its addictive, it deteriorates the skin, decreases your response time in emergency situations… And do I even have to mention driving while under the influence of alcohol?!? Drinking is BAD! No, I would never drink alcohol AND no one else should either!”The Doula, looks at the Activist ands says, “Wow, I am so impressed by you. You have such strong convictions about this. Clearly you are a woman who knows what’s important to you. It is rare to see someone so true to themselves. You are a strong lady if I’ve ever seen one!”The activist smiles, folds her arms and gives the bartender a “see, I told ya so” kind of smirk…The Doula looks at the bartender and says, “I’ll have a rum and coke!”
Only being supportive of those you agree with is severely closed-minded.
There seems to be a bit of confusion in the Doula world surrounding our role of support. If you are reading this blog, I am sure you know the answer to questions like…
What is a Doula?Should I hire a Doula?Why do I need a Doula?How much does a Doula cost?How do I find a Doula in my area? Etc…
But lets address something a Doula is NOT!
A Doula is not an activist. She is a support person. She supports the person that she is hired by and she supports that person in the philosophies that are important to them. She does not have an agenda of her own. She is there to serve and support.
Activism, by definition is:
ac·tiv·ismn.The use of direct, often confrontational action, such as a demonstration or strike,in opposition to or support of a cause.
These words and phrases used by the free dictionary to describe an activist include aggression, which is something I have never taught about as a Doula trainer and have never learned about as a Doula student.
As human beings, we feel empowered when we are heard and supported. We feel disempowered when we are steam rolled by an aggressive opinionated person who does not agree with us. The two can absolutely not co-exist.
I don’t believe that there is conflict between doctors, nurses, hospital based midwives, administrators and DOULAS. Instead, I believe that the conflict lies between doctors, nurses, hospital based midwives, administrators and ACTIVISTS posing as non-judgmental Doulas or providing support to other activists during birth.
Doulas are often surprised when a medical professional thanks them or approaches them with a compliment like, “we only want you as a Doula around here!” Or “you’re the best Doula we’ve had around here in a while!” OR “I’m glad you’re not one of THOSE Doulas!” What I believe those professionals are really saying (without knowing it) is Oh, you are a real Doula and not a birth activist.
As an active participant in several Doula related online groups, I can tell you that there is tremendous controversy between Doulas and Activists. Doulas ask questions like how can I best support my client through her son’s circumcision and activists ask questions like how can I convince my client not to circumcise her son. Doulas ask questions like “my client has chosen not to breastfeed her baby, are there resources available for formula comparisons?” An activist says, “I can’t support a mom who chooses not to breastfeed!”
These topics inspire huge debate in these groups. Activists take an aggressive and defensive stance while Doulas continue to pose questions and statements reminding the group that it is not our choice clients seek, it is our support. I can only imagine that if online Doula communities cannot agree on the true role of Doulas, we are a long way away from the public and providers understanding and embracing the concept of emotional, physical and educational Doula support.
Hey activists, can you just call your selves birth activists so there is less confusion and stop calling yourselves Doulas. Doulas don’t judge birthing women and you do…
Authored by: Randy Patterson
Providing Professional Doula Services to Families in Greenwich, Westchester & NYC for Over 18 years!