by Yvette Stephens, Doula at The Maya's Nest
A couple of weeks ago, I was being interviewed by a lovely couple who asked me what my philosophy of doula care is. I smiled and shared confidently that my philosophy as a doula is that I am going to be a good listener, to hear what your wants and needs are for your birth and help you plan for those, and I am going to give you the best evidence-based information I can for you to be able to make choices that you feel comfortable with. In a nut-shell, for me, that is family-centred care.
Often clients are surprised when they meet me, assuming that, because I’m a doula, I’m a crunchy hippy that will only support un-medicated childbirth in the woods. (I like those too but have attended a lot of beautiful hospital births as well) “But what about your biases?” the partner asked me skeptically. Well, I have them! Everyone has them, based on experience, culture and philosophy. For your care provider, she also has policies and preferences related to her place of work, insurance and training. When I go to work and put on my doula hat, I strive to put aside my personal birth preferences (because it’s not my birth) and become intentional about understanding your choices and philosophy and equipping you for those, regardless of whether they match up with my own, your care provider’s or the hospital’s. Birth is a personal experience and I provide personalized care!
Why do I work so hard at this? Well, one reason is that when I was expecting my twins, my care was transferred to a specialist at the larger and better-equipped women’s hospital in the nearby city. At 34 weeks, I was being encouraged to have an amniocentesis to test the viability of my babies’ lungs. When I asked the doctor what the risks were for the procedure, he waved his hand, told me “None,” leaned forward and in a condescending voice asked me if I was afraid of the big needle. “Of course,” was my reply, but mostly I’m afraid of receiving care from people who don’t tell me the truth. There are always risks to procedures (this was pre-internet 90’s, so no Dr Google was available) and I needed good information to make a decision. In the absence of this, my answer had to be no. My instinct was telling me that my chances of going into preterm labour were more likely with the procedure, and that waiting as long as I could to let the twins’ lungs mature was the right thing for me to do. Part of my role as a doula is being available to pass along information on-the-fly to the family as the situation changes during pregnancy and labour and to help clients tune into their instincts about what is the best course of action for their family’s well-being.
The key principle of family centred care is that you are the best expert on yourself, you are the most important member of your care team and that your instincts to protect yourself and your children from harm are innate (and a basic human right.) I consider myself fortunate to be able to support these basic principles on a daily basis as a doula at The Maya’s Nest.
The Maya's Nest is here to help you have the birth and postpartum experience that you want. As your doula, Samantha provides information, support and nurturing to birthing families across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.
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The Maya's Nest Doulas and Birth Photographers provide information, support and nurturing while capturing life's
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New Westminster, Burnaby, Vancouver, Langley and Surrey.