Thursday, 5 May 2011

Reverting to the age of three

Today I realised that I spend an awful lot of time asking one question.  WHY?
When I meet my potential clients I ask them WHY? they want a Doula.  It's not because I don't want to be their Doula, but I want to be sure that we are on the same page.  Some, but not many, are looking for someone to "fight" their hospital battles for them.  As a Doula I am there to help my clients make informed choices.  I point them in the direction of research based evidence and encourage them to ask the WHY? question.
Then I ask them WHY? they have chosen their place of birth.  This way I begin to understand how they think and feel about birth.  Sometimes fear informs their choices and hides other options from them. They may have heard and/or absorbed all the scare stories about birth. They may feel that with all the horrors of birth they want to be as close as possible to doctors.  Research based evidence gives them the opportunity to rethink their place of birth.
Today I was talking to a couple and Dad told me that he just wanted the safest option for his wife and unborn twins.  For him the thought of a caesarean didn't scare him as much as the vaginal birth of twins. I asked him WHY? he thought abdominal surgery was the safest option.  This gave him pause for thought and he's now looking at research based evidence.
My clients often show me their list of "things to buy for the baby(ies).  They ask my advice as to what are the best things to buy.  Again I ask them WHY?  Why do you need that?  Why do you want that? Why is it an essential?  This allows them to step back and think about their lifestyle and the ways in which they want to bring up their children. 
When we talk about how birth works and what happens when they are in hospital or at home with their midwives, I tell Dad that something to keep in mind is the question WHY?  Why this procedure for my partner at this time, in her condition?  Why is this good for our baby(ies)?  Why are there, seemingly, no other options? 
We talk about the postnatal period.  My ladies often say that they are going to try to breastfeed and see how it goes.  I ask WHY? are they going to try?  This allows them to explore their relationship with breastfeeding.  Are they coming from a culture of expected failure?  How have their family and friends dealt with breastfeeding?  Are there medical reasons why they may not be able to breastfeed?  This encourages them to know where to go for support should things get tricky.
They ask me whether or not they should follow the different schools of parenting thought.  I ask them WHY? do you need to follow any/all/some of these "experts"?  This is to encourage them to remember that THEY want the best for their baby(ies) and that parental instinct is not to be sniffed at.
Remember, my job as a Doula is not to make decisions for my clients, but sometimes that is exactly what they want me to do.  So when I ask WHY? what I'm doing is asking them to think about their choices.
My youngest, now 7, still asking WHY?


  1. Well written, young lady.

    Someone in my ear constantly asking me, "Why?" It might unnerve some people but it wouldn't unnerve me. We all need our old habits and preconceptions challenged.

    When I get pregnant, I so look forward to my doula doing that for me. (Me being male is a minor detail.)

  2. I like this post a lot; I know that interviewing clients an asking these kinds of questions is something that I need to work on.