As a doula, we hear that comment frequently. “I have a friend who is going to be my doula….” And at first glance it seems like a good thing. but is it?
First let me say, a doula does not need to have been trained or credentialed in any way to call herself a doula. She can say, “I am going to mother the mother, therefore I can call myself a doula.” And this is very true. There is nothing stopping her from doing so. But those of us who have undergone training, read a ton of books, been critiqued and evaluated feel a bit sad when we hear horror stories about the doula who overstepped her bounds at a birth, knowing that with helpful training, she would not have acted or reacted this way. It also makes us sad when someone has a friend who is their doula, without any experience or training and has a false sense of security that they have the support and benefit of a doula. She has not had a doula at all. She had a friend with a huge heart and desire to help her.
If you are going to attend a birth without any training or knowledge of what the trained and certified doulas have as a code of ethics, just call yourself a birth companion. You can still make a huge difference perhaps, but the staff at the hospital will see you as just that, not a professional doula. It helps those of us who feel the need to meet the standards of certification to be seen a bit differently and held to a higher standard. You will not taint our reputations as doulas when you step outside the bounds of a credentialed doula. The truth is a mom supported by a birth companion will be better off than one alone. And I only ask that you make sure those who enter the room know you are there for the mom and do not represent doulas per se or any certifying organization. And the monitrice who is a doula plus offers some additional skills, does not cloudy the water of the doula- call yourself a monitrice when you tell the nurse how far dilated you found her to be when you felt the need to do a vaginal exam.