Doula, a Greek word used to describe a non-medical support person for laboring women.

Registered Nurse RN, a medical professional who has graduated from a nursing program and has passed a national licensing exam to obtain a nursing license. 

Obviously… total opposites! There is no such thing as Doula Baby Nurse, One IS medical, one IS NOT medical.

As if introducing the term “Doula” to someone unfamiliar with it, isn’t confusing enough, some women are adding a new layer of confusion by combining their RN credentials with their certification as a Doula. They are creating a role that falls into neither category and it’s causing concern for professional doulas.

As many people know, not all doulas are certified. Many are practicing without the possibilty of being held accountable by a certification organization. They are free to practice any way they wish, with no worry of repercussion… other than a client filing a lawsuit against them.

As seasoned professional doulas, many of us have worked diligently to teach our communities EXACTLY what doula care is, NON-medical physical, educational and emotional support for women during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.

With doulas that practice without certification and RN-Doulas providing medical support to women, the confusion about exactly what a doula is will grow exponentially.

Ask yourself this…

How can someone possibly provide non-medical support AND medical support at the same time?

Let me answer that for you… YOU CAN’T.

Now, let’s get to exactly why someone might try to pull this off.

1)   They are not confident that services are desirable to birthing families. Which means, they don’t truly understand what a doula does.

2)   They feel that being a doula alone, does not lend enough credibility to them, as a birth professional. They feel like a nurse’s role is superior to a doulas and they are convinced that clients will agree.

3)   They feel that by using other credentials they have acquired, potential clients will prefer them, to a doula that is “just” a doula.

4)   They do not have the skills to market themselves as a doula and they feel it is easier to focus on their nursing degree in their marketing materials.

This might come as a surprise to those of you using these strategies, but guess what?

Women are smart.

Women do research.

Many women have come to understand that they don’t need to be lured by nursing credentials, to commit to the nurturing, non-medical support that we provide.

A nurse plays a tremendously important role in birth, which is very different from a doula’s role.

As a very experienced doula, I have had the privilege of attending births in my community with some of the most skilled and compassionate nurses in the field. They are sharp and focused and ready to intervene in the event of an emergency.

During an emergency, a doula is focused on the mother’s emotional well being.

During an emergency, a nurse is focused on the mother’s physical well being.

A “Doula Baby Nurse” splitting her focus would leave her… COMPLETELY UN-FOCUSED!

Medical professionals (like nurses) focus on healthy baby, healthy mommy and doulas focus on healthy mind, healthy bond.

Modern birthing women have come to desire the support of both a doula and a medical team. Your doula could no sooner work as your doctor than she could your nurse.

Let’s keep nurses working as nurses, doctors working as doctors and doulas working as doulas!

  Authored by: Randy Patterson