Monday, September 24, 2007

The importance and fragility of doula trust (part I)

Last week I had another reminder about how important our trust relationship is with our clients. I had vaguely committeed to do a footbath with my current client once I "checked with the home schedule." In my mind it was an iffy thing. I like to do the footbath when I can, but it's not part of my official package.

A few days later I got an e-mail from my client saying she was disappointed that she never heard back from me about the footbath. She had really been looking forward to it last week.

Whoops.

I do not take my responsibility to clients lightly. I feel very badly I let the call slide. It was a very busy week last week, including in the evenings, but that was no excuse for leaving her in a lurch.

The tone of her e-mail made it clear to me that the true offense of my oversight was not the omission of the footbath. It was my failing to perfom in a trustworthy manner.

When clients hire us as their doulas, in large part they are paying for reliability and trustworthiness. We are often the one part of their birth team they KNOW will be there (doctors and midwives rotate call after all). They also often seek doulas precisely because they want someone there they can trust and feel safe with.

Every step of our doula contact with women/families should foster, not challenge, this trust.

I fear my failure to call last week may have set back this doula/client relationship to where it was when we first met. Or worse.

It was hard reminder that our relationships with clients are very delicate and should be given the hightest priority at every opportunity, not just at the birth itself.

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