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A Doula is Not a "Bestie": Part 1

I've heard a lot of talk about a doula being a "girl's best friend" to a mom in labor. Besides not agreeing with how this impacts the professionalism in our field, I have concerns for how perpetuating this perspective can really limit a pregnant person's options and the level of support they need and deserve from their doula.



What's the big deal?


When a client works with you, they are working with a trained professional in the perinatal field, and ideally one who is either certified or working towards certification. Not their bestie. That is not to say that you shouldn't hit it off with your client, because personal connections are important in any professional relationship. However, just like a doctor / midwife / nurse / lactation consultant or anyone on a pregnant person's support team, a doula is professional, not a friend, and a doula's training, experience, and professional boundaries should have the greater impact on choosing whether or not to hire them as a doula.


Think about it....


When you are looking for a doctor, is the first item on your list whether or not you feel like you have enough in common?


What about a midwife? Are you more interested in how cool she is or how skilled she is as a specialist in women's health?


Probably not-- you want to feel comfortable around them but you are probably more interested in how capable and experienced they are. Considering how impactful labor support can be on choices and options in childbirth, don't doulas deserve the same respect?



We know that The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) made a joint statement: in the 2017 Obstetric Care Consensus: Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery effect of labor support:

Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”

“…the presence of continuous one-on-one support during labor and delivery was associated with improved patient satisfaction and a statistically significant reduction in the rate of cesarean delivery.”

Given that there are no associated measurable harms, this resource is probably underutilized.”

Being that these two entities regard doulas as"one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes," it's time to take our profession more seriously.

A doula is not a "bestie." If your bestie gets pregnant and asks you to be her doula, that's a different story, but even in that case personal and professional boundaries are of utmost importance.


A doula cannot be both friend and doula at the same time. Healthy boundaries are what creates calm and openness and trust in a professional relationship. Working with a doula should feel like the professional relationship that it is designed and needs to be.


What makes CAPPA doulas different?


CAPPA doulas are trained and certified by an international certifying organization that has been educating and training perinatal professionals since 1998.


The CAPPA mission is to provide dynamic training and continuing education opportunities for doulas and educators around the world. CAPPA professionals approach their work with expectant families during the perinatal year with a desire to educate, support, and to see all families succeed. TheCAPPA Approach is built on the CAPPA Vision, which supports the four cornerstones. These cornerstones are:

  • Using evidence-based information in practice

  • Embracing positive mental attitudes

  • Approaching all situations with a loving, non-judgmental mindset

  • Building bridges amongst support and healthcare professionals




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