Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Birth stories and doula ethics

I was so excited about my post for today. I had some of the photos from the birth last week all ordered up for viewing. I was careful not to have any faces in them -- or at least not so you could tell who people were.

But I hadn't yet gotten my client's explicit permission to use them. So I've pulled them.

I am having a moral dilemma. I want this blog to be about births in general and my birth experiences in specific. Spouse has been playing devil's advocate, however, saying how would I feel if my birth story appeared on the internet, told by the person I'd hired to be my trusted birth companion. What if any idenifying details were removed? I counter. Well? he asks.

I don't know.

I want to be able to write about my experiences freely. I do not think that would happen if I had to pass everything by my clients for their approval. Yet I feel somewhat like I am betraying clients' confidence, their invitations to their births if I go and write about them on the internet.

For now my conscience is comfortable with reporting my take on births without client consent.

Please check back. And weigh in if you have any thoughts or moral compass points for me.

6 Comments:

Blogger Devon said...

This is a huge concern of mine, and I've fixed it for now by deciding not to post client stories, or details, even in an obfuscated way.

It's a problem with blogging in general, in fact. How do we blog about other people without betraying their confidences?

It's a tough call, and one that I think we have to make individually.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Dynamic Doula said...

I struggle with this too. I think the conclusion I've come to is that I'm writing my experience, not hers. I am not putting it in her voice, I am writing my feelings. As much as it is her birth, it is also something I am present for... I doubt my dad would enjoy knowing that I write about his abuse of me, or my brother how I really feel about him, or my husband anything I've said ever about him (lol)... but they are MY experiences, and I get to talk about them if I want to. I would be uncomfortable if my client read it, definitely- because they are my private thoughts and she has only ever seen 'professional Me'. I don't know, I definitely still struggle with this.

2:09 AM  
Blogger Dynamic Doula said...

Doulicia, I also wanted to say that I have yet to see a birth blog that doesn't have you linked to it. ;) Congrats! I am grateful for your online presence, your honesty, clarity and courage to speak your truth!

2:15 AM  
Blogger Bekah said...

Yep, I struggle with this, too. For my clients, I've got a release form I offer with the rest of my paperwork to indicate whether they are or are not okay with me posting a bit about their birth, less identifying details, and a second section about use of photographs.

Here's how I worded it, and your welcome to borrow any part if you feel it would be useful.

"Birth Stories are powerful. Gather any number of women in a room and inevitably the conversation will turn to birth stories, especially if one of the members is pregnant. Too often, American birth stories recount harrowing examples of our medical model of birth, which can initiate the fear-pain cycle when a woman enters her own laborland. To counteract this effect, with your permission, I desire to spread our stories of births that empower, overcome, and are filled with the joy of birthing our new creations.

I,________________________, grant [Bekah] permission to post our birth story, absent identifying information.

I, _________________________, grant [Bekah] permission to use photographs of us, our labor, and/or our new baby in any and all of her publications, whether now known or hereafter existing. I understand that I will have prior approval before the initial use of any photographs."

For my midwife's clients whose births I attend, I've settled on sharing only the sparest of details, mostly acknowledging that I had the opportunity to attend another birth, maybe detailing something interesting or a sweet moment, but nothing critical or any where near identifying. My midwife okay'd sharing stories without identifying information, but hasn't presented it to her own clients at all, so I'm really careful.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

Something I struggle with as well... I tend to agree with dynamic doula but it is tough to know where to draw the line. Thanks for opening a dialogue about it. And Bekah, I really like the wording of your release form!

11:17 AM  
Blogger Mike Karr said...

Just ask them. I imagine some of your clients find you through your blog and would like to get an impression of how you might be able to help them. The best way to do that would be to write about the births you attend. Some clients will say yes, some will say no, it's no breach of trust. Marketing, if nothing else and another view of the experience for the clients as well.

4:39 PM  

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