by Traci Weafer
In the world of Douladom, there are many schools of thought surrounding birth. Birth philosophy is formed through one’s experiences, past birthing knowledge, obtaining certification, and diving into doula work in one’s community and birth culture. Birth: What does it look like to you?
Bias: prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair.
There is no denying, as doulas, we all carry birth ideals that makes us who we are. Birth biases are formed through the experiences we obtain some traumatic and deeply embedded in our being.
As a doula takes on clients, meets for prenatals, and attends births...she may not realize that there may be triggers for her along the way. Frustration arises and there are rarely places to go to process the negative impact these births have on her. I believe this is the reason for the high rate of Doula “burn out.”
A double edged sword:
#1. A doula with ideas that resulted from strong opinions passed down or experienced, including trauma. Afraid of that situation and sometimes having an assumption of how a birth will go. Mad and angry. A Post traumatic stress of sorts, forming a bias that is unfair toward a care provider or setting.
#2. A doula that believes her biases outweigh her voice. She refuses to work with certain care providers, because she does not have the tools to move forward. She’s blind to the overstepping of bounds believing she has no say in the matter. Defeated, and silenced forming bias that is unfair that she can’t speak for her client when/if needed.
Self care is often talked about to get the stress out and gear up to dive back into the game. A doula refreshed can serve to her highest degree of holding space.
But then….the bias. The ideas, ideals and formed opinions about birth are still there. They haven’t been talked about or dealt with by the doula. They are only simmering in the background waiting to splatter when there’s a timely trigger.
Bias, as the definition describes, is a prejudice and considered unfair.
Doulas often talk about the birth not having anything to do with them. This simply isn’t true. We bring our whole being with us when we support a mom. Do we bring the negative bias too? Do we bring a predisposed idea of how things “need” to go for us to come out saying this was a “good birth.”
Neither side of the sword is wrong. BUT……..I believe in this equation of doula biases.
Unprocessed biases=doula frustration and burn out.
Dealing and processing biases can take time, patience and energy. Sometimes it hurts as you go through the journey of healing, maybe even forgiving. Recognizing a bias can help you grow in your work, make you stronger and give you an edge to help change something that will benefit birthing women everywhere. Reflection is a powerful tool to understand where a bias came from and how to turn a prejudice that is unfair into a spirit of understanding on a greater level.
A double edged sword. A birth is all about the birthing person and family, A doula's bias should be tucked under, while her empathy and understanding shines through.
Reflect, Understand, Empathize