What does non-judgmental support mean?
Author: Alyssa Veneklase, CD
I was recently asked if, since I’m a doula, I tell clients not to vaccinate and make them feel guilty if they don’t breastfeed.
If you had a doula that made you feel this way, I apologize on behalf of them. That is the opposite of what a doula is meant to be.
Since there’s obviously still a lot of confusion about the role of a doula, I will try to clear up most of the common misconceptions briefly and simply.
A birth doula is not a midwife. We do not deliver babies; we are there for the physical and emotional support of the mother and even the father.
You do not need to have an all-natural home birth to use a doula. We support women no matter how and where they deliver.
We realize that breastfeeding doesn’t work for every mother and every circumstance. We are there for guidance and support of breastfeeding, pumping, and bottlefeeding (breast milk and formula).
When clients ask us for guidance regarding topics such as vaccines and circumcision, we offer resources, but never tell a client what they should do. We want our clients to make informed and educated decisions, but the decisions are all their own.
Bottom line, a doula is a non-judgmental support person. And by non-judgmental I mean we never judge a mother, father, or family based on the decisions they make.
Telling a client not to vaccinate their child would be judging those who do vaccinate.
Telling someone we won’t work with them because they have a scheduled c-section would be outright, in-your-face judgment.
Telling a client that she’s a bad mother because she can’t, or chooses not to, breastfeed is yes, full of judgment.
As a postpartum doula, I am passionate about supporting families, wherever they’re at in their journeys. I serve families who co-sleep for months and those who use a crib from day one. I serve families who breastfeed and those that bottlefeed formula.
I serve mothers who had all-natural deliveries, mothers who delivered early and their baby was in the NICU, and mothers who had scheduled c-sections. I serve families whether they vaccinated or not, circumcised or not.
I serve families where the mother goes back to work full-time after a few weeks, and families where the mother never goes back to work. I serve mothers with postpartum depression and I serve mothers who are the happiest they’ve ever been.
In every single scenario, the client knows I am there for them. I have no agenda of my own. It doesn’t matter what I did with my child or what “most people” do. I want each of my clients to feel confident that they’re making their own informed decisions. And I’m there for them, no matter what the decision is.