Doulas have a reputation for judging women based on their birth choices. Many people even believe that doulas are only helpful if they’re planning a natural childbirth. Doulas know this is a myth, but there is a reason it has perpetuated for so long, and it’s likely because doulas are judging without even realizing it.
Judging is an automatic process of the mind. We are constantly judging things as good or bad, which is normal, even necessary. However, unconscious judgments without an awareness of how or why those judgments are being formed can cause us to act out our biases. Our unconscious biases can easily turn into an agenda. An agenda in the birth room is anything but supportive and can even be harmful.
Doulas must identify their biases.
Non-judgmental support means knowing your biases so that you can have clarity and awareness about how to offer support and information to your clients based on their needs, rather than your agenda.
So in order to truly provide non-judgmental support, doulas must develop an understanding of their biases, not so that they can get rid of them, but so that they can be fully conscious of them.
How can you be a non-judgmental doula?
You can start by asking yourself what you believe about birth. What do you know about birth? What opinions do you have? Write these down in a list and separate the items you know are facts from the items that are your opinions and beliefs.
Then, ask yourself why you hold those opinions and beliefs? Are they born out of your own personal experiences? Stories you’ve been told? What alternative perspectives are there? What is the validity of those alternative perspectives? Are they true for everyone?
A classic example is the belief that a natural or low intervention birth is the best way to give birth. But, is it always the best? Is that true for everyone? In what circumstances would medicated birth be the best way? Why would someone choose a highly interventive birth and why would they still value your support?
Know your assumptions and challenge them in order to recognize your biases.
What Does Non-Judgmental Doula Support Really Mean?
Recognize your biases and how they might impact the doula support you provide.
Provide information and resources without an agenda.
Understand there is no one right way to give birth.
Developing skills for supporting all kinds of birth scenarios.
Know how to support parents to make their own best decisions
And that’s just the beginning!
Be the best doula you can be and register for the next Nona Birth Doula training or watch for the upcoming Nona Advanced Mindful Birth Doula Training.