The doula profession is still rather new despite its rapid growth and popularity over the last decade or so. There are some aspects of this job that are constant throughout the professionals. We all support women in the childbearing year, either in pregnancy, in birth, or in the postpartum period. Also, professional doulas understand that they are not medical professionals, and they do not to act or practice as such. Beyond that, there are many variations in the ways that doulas practice and run their businesses.
The doula scope of practice is outlined very clearly in all of the certifying organizations and there are few variations. Here is an example of the birth doula scope of practice as outlined by CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Professionals Association):
The Certified Labor Doula
CAPPA Labor Doulas fill an important role in providing emotional, physical, and evidence-based, informational support to the birthing woman and her family before, during, and after birth.
How CAPPA Labor Doulas work with families
The Labor Doula works with families during pregnancy, during labor, and in the birth process, and in the immediate postpartum time, offering support, encouragement, information, comfort, and referrals as needed. Labor Doulas can be found working in the community in private practice, in cooperatives, as part of groups or agencies, as well as serving in various community programs
How CAPPA Labor Doulas work within the healthcare system
Labor Doulas are skilled support persons who act as consultants and resources, not clinicians. They therefore work with the healthcare system by encouraging and promoting excellent communication between the birthing woman and the health care team, encouraging informed decision making and self-advocacy, supporting the choices of the birthing woman, providing non-clinical comfort techniques, and offering appropriate referrals when their observance or counseling uncover situations that require healthcare attention or support.
Clinical Limitations of CAPPA Labor Doulas
CAPPA Labor Doulas are nonclinical professionals. CAPPA Labor Doula courses do not qualify a professional to act as a midwife or midwifery assistant, as any alternative medicine provider, or as any medical care provider. Labor Doulas do not diagnose medical conditions, perform clinical procedures, prescribe or administer treatment for medical conditions, make medical decisions for the birthing woman, or direct families to act against medical advice.
CAPPA Labor Doulas:
The CAPPA Labor Doula is not a clinician and therefore does not:
That about sums up the job of a doula. There are a few things, however, that all doulas do not agree on, and the discussions go on.
There are no right or wrong answers to many of these questions. In some cases, it’s a matter of personal preference on the part of the professional. Yet the discussions continue.
Why does this matter? Doesn’t every profession have areas of disagreement? Of course, they do – and that is part of what drives improvement in any industry. The doula profession is no different. They all work a little differently, with varying perspectives and philosophies.
It matters to the mothers that we work with because it’s important to know that no two doulas are the same. Make sure you hire the right one for you.
Interview a few doulas, ask them about their approach, their fee structure, their insurance, their stance on advocacy, or things that matter to you. If you want a doula that will be more available to talk with the hospital staff, make sure you ask if she will do that. If it’s important to you that your doula is insured, ask her about that. If you want a doula that will labor with you at home before you go to the hospital, make sure she does that – because they don’t all practice that way.
Doulas have the privilege of being welcomed into a sacred space. Your birth is a once in a lifetime experience – having the right one can make a huge difference in your experience.
To learn more about the work New Life Blessings does with their clients, please email us NLBlessings@gmail.com