Doula Etiquette in the Birth Room
Nerd alert! I find the topic of etiquette fascinating. I am an enthusiast of The Emily Post Institute, particularly the works of Emily Post's great-great-grandchildren, Dan Post Senning and Lizzie Post. The two published authors have books, articles, and podcasts that are timely and relevant. With Dan and Lizzie's modern-day take on age old traditions, it makes the topic so fun to read and listen to! Dan and Lizzie state that the three tenets of good etiquette are consideration for others, respect for others and honesty ("The Emily Post Institute ", 2016). By the way, these principles can be applied to a lot of problem solving and social situations. If you are struggling to make a decision on how to phrase something, try thinking about these three tenets and it may help you moving forward in finding some language that is comfortable for you.
Today I am applying The Post Family's three tenets to doula behavior in the labor and delivery room. These etiquette standards, when adhered to, would exemplify a doula who is respectful and considerate of everyone in the room.
Doulas respecting others is not limited to the family they are hired by. A professional doula is able to be easily respect to all members of the facility and staff. Reception, nurses, doctors, nurse aids, cafeteria workers, everyone. Respect from the doula towards the medical professionals in the delivery room help communicate that the doula is there in the best interest of everyone. Respect is something that should be a given, and need not be earned in a professional setting.
A professional doula will be considerate of all. She will be attuned to the needs and personalities of her clients, and also of the medical professionals serving the client as well. Consideration is not something that happens in instant. It is a culmination of attitude and action over a period of time.
The professional doula, in order to be honest with others, needs to first be honest with herself. A professional doula may sometimes have to check-in and ask herself "Do I have an agenda, here?" "Do I care more about the decision being made here than my client?" "Am I bringing in my emotions to a situation in which that would be inappropriate?". Once a doula is able to support a client without judgement and with constant self-awareness, the door is then open for the client to be honest, forthcoming and open about their needs.
By applying the three tenets of etiquette from the Post family to the birth room, a doula is able to cohesively work with both clients and medical personnel in a way that is beneficial to all parties.