Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Childless Doula

...is still worth hiring.


After all, women hire male obstetricians every day!  And I've definitely heard of childless midwives.

A doula who has never given birth herself, such as myself, may still be a great support person. The truth is, even if I had given birth, my birth experience is going to be nothing like your birth experience. A woman with a traumatic birth, or a cesarean birth, has her experience, thoughts and worries that she is bringing, but it may be a far cry from their doula client's birth experience. Precisely because I have never experienced a birth of my own I have no baggage to leave behind. This way, I go in with an open mind.

Another bonus to hiring a doula who doesn't have kids is that her schedule is more flexible; there is no need to find childcare at the last second!

It's also important to note that a doula without children may not be that way by choice. In her post, What Not To Ask Your Doula, Yoruba Doula notes:
A childless doula may not have children because she simply doesn’t want any. The doula you’re interviewing may not be able to conceive. The lovely woman sitting across from you at the coffee house as you feel out her qualifications may be overcoming the heartache of a miscarriage. She may be a single woman who wants children, but can’t afford artificial insemination or IVF. The woman who scores high in every area on your checklist except for whether or not she has children may have given birth to a baby that didn’t survive. 

As my DONA trainer put it, "have you ever known someone who couldn't have children who would have made a great mother?"

You don't have to have been a mom to be a motherly supportive presence during birth. And you don't have to have given birth to know what a normal birth looks like, what the usual processes with a birth are, what positions would help you find comfort or change the baby's position, and so on. Many childless midwives and doulas still have a passion for birth and babies, a natural empathy, and a great pool of knowledge to draw from!

Photo from an article on Young Doulas

However, if it is personally important to you that your doula have experienced childbirth, breastfeeding and motherhood herself, then that is your priority. Yoruba Doula writes:
Does this mean you should stop caring about whether or not your doula has children? Absolutely not! Your desires are yours, and you deserve to have your needs met by all means. Do continue to ask ask, “Do you have children?,” as you interview. Please do not ask, “So, why don’t you have kids?” It may seem like a harmless question, but it’s one that could have devastating effects on a doula who planned to have a lovely afternoon chatting with you.
Opinions vary on whether or not to hire a doula who has never given birth, but it is a personal decision to make for every pregnant woman.

For many doulas, it is not an issue to be asked. I am not always asked, but I have been. I simply say I am waiting for the right time in my life to have kids. My training, testimonials, knowledge and experience speak for themselves (obviously I've been hired before despite my childlessness), and if the couple are comfortable with me, they hire me.

The most important thing is that you click well with your doula!



8 comments:

Julia said...

Thank you so much for writing this post! I have been planning to write the SAME information on my blog, but hadn't gotten around to it. I agree with you on so many points! Thank you for putting the thought into this and for being a great childless doula. I don't have children either and I have been passed over a few times because of this. But the people who hire me have very positive things to say about my services-- whether or not I've birthed a child isn't a part of this.

lorien_i said...

My doula didn't have children at the time of my son's birth and it was completely irrelevant to me compared to her attitude, her knowledge and her ability to provide strong and consistent counterpressure :) I guess it might be important to some people, but not to me.

Emily said...

Thanks for commenting, ladies! I appreciate your input!

R. Madison said...

I agree that having children is not paramount to being a great doula. However, in my doula training I noticed that many of the childless women who also had not completed any of the required reading spent a LOT of time asking remedial questions about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Of course, it's great that they asked rather than remaining ignorant and potentially doing a disservice to their clients. I just wish those who had little basic knowledge of birth had completed the reading because, as you know, doula training is so short on time.

Just a few thoughts. :)

lylaburns123 said...

Thank you so much for this post. I had a childless doula for my first daughter and she was great. They have still gone through the same training and know how to coach you through it. Thanks again!

Cville Pagan said...

Thank you for writing this post. I would like to become a doula someday and honestly not having children was the only thing holding me back. I understand woman want to feel safe with a midwife or doula and part of that may be having someone who has had a similar experience of childbirth. While others may not have this concern. The important thing to remember is creating an deeply personal, loving and happy experience for women, whether you have experienced childbirth or not.

Thanks again!

Marika Hall said...

Thank you so much for writing this. I am just preparing to do my doula training and it has been my biggest fear that as I do not have children yet it would effect my ability as a doula, but you are so write it does leave me with an open mind.

JESS! said...

Thank you for this article, like some of the other women who have commented here, it was nice to be reassured that i will not be doing a dis service to my clients if i do step into the world of being a doula. i have had this on my mind for a long time and my inexperience with having children has always convinced me to put my training off. but i now feel motivated. so again, thank you

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