Doulas tend to be very nurturing, supportive, empathetic individuals. Yet, that doesn't mean they're not human. Even doulas get exasperated sometimes. So if you're wondering what surprising things you're doing that annoy doulas, you need to read this.
I knew very early on in my first pregnancy that I wanted to work with a doula. I was interested in having an unmedicated birth, and I knew that having a birthing guide by my side would help with that. But finding the right doula took some work. The process felt like a weird mix of speed dating and job interviewing. After numerous phone calls feeling out different candidates, I met with my top three picks in person. Thankfully, I totally "clicked" with one of them, and selecting her turned out to be a great decision. But I'm not going to lie, turning down the other doulas was a bit awkward. And I'm guessing that doulas don't love investing their time, only to hear "thank you, next."
"Imagine if every job you did you had to interview. It's stressful," explains Adriana Lozada, advanced certified birth doula, and host of the Birthful podcast, in an interview with Romper.
So, what else do doulas vent about after the end of a long day? If you — or your partner — is guilty of any of the actions below, your doula could be a little irked.
1. When It's Not The Right Fit
From the initial meeting with my doula, I knew we would work well as a team. I jived with her energy, and she seemed to vibe with me and my husband.
But if you're interviewing a doula candidate, and you're not feeling that natural connection, there's one useful phrase to remember, according to Lozada: "There is a doula for everybody, but I'm not necessarily that doula."
If you force the relationship, it might not be the best experience for either you or the doula.
"It's super important that we connect. Sometimes if I'm not feeling like we're the greatest fit, they're usually feeling that too, and so they let me know, and it's fine. In rare cases that just doesn't happen," explains Lozada. "In those, I have to consider, 'Is this a learning opportunity?' Sometimes it's a learning opportunity I should have said no to."
To avoid you or your doula feeling that way, it's best to really invest time in the interview process to find the right doula for you.
2. When You're Trying To Force Your Way Onto Their Calendar
Doulas have to be on call around the clock for their clients, which requires them to plan their schedules carefully.
"I have a limit to the number of clients I take a month," notes Lozada. "We might already be giving up our nights, our holidays, our birthdays, our vacations. We have to honor our own boundaries. I think that's important for doulas. Otherwise you burn out."
So, if you're still trying to finagle a spot on a busy doula's calendar, you might want to consider backing off.
3. When They Hear Colleagues Say The Words: "I Told You So"
Doulas are in the support business, so when they start hearing the judge-y words "I told you so," they're not down.
"Being a doula requires unconditional support without judging. That is something you have to hold very close to your heart. That's my first principle as a doula. And then it's their journey. You travel that journey with them, and then if things don't go as planned, you keep supporting. You never say, 'I told you so.' That's never helpful," says Lozada.
However, Lozada notes, she has heard that blaming language from other members of the care team. "I can see how it can just add to their trauma."
4. When The Partner Doesn't Step Up To The Plate
Sometimes partners can surprise you in the best possible way during the birth experience. However, that's not always the case.
"Something that makes me sad is when the birthing person asks for something of their partner and the partner doesn't do it. The birthing person is asking them to be present in the moment and they're not quite stepping up to the plate, or they're on their phone, or there's a disconnect," explains Lozada. "I try to figure out how to gently bring them together. You have to navigate a lot of different circumstances in the moment."
To prevent your doula from having to play the role of therapist, it's best to outline what you expect from your partner before labor starts.
And... One Thing Doulas Love
Not every birth experience goes exactly as you planned, but doulas love when you feel empowered to express your needs.
"I love it when clients take ownership of their experience," says Lozada. "When a situation rises up that's not in line with what they wanted, and they politely say 'no thank you,' then that's amazing to me."
I know one thing for sure: I definitely appreciate doulas helping women find their voice.