Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Doula Prototypes

I was thinking the other day about a solution to the situation I often encounter: being contacted by someone who cannot find a doula, but who I can't take on myself for whatever reason. I worry about these women wanting doulas but not being able to find one.

My solution: the Drop-In Doula. It would work like this. I would give the woman all of my contact numbers, tell her to call me when she's in labor, and agree to come if I can. If I come, I charge an hourly rate (sliding scale...maybe $20-$50/hr?) with a maximum equal to my regular fee. I would provide postpartum care as I usually do.

If I couldn't come, the woman is in no worse a position than she originally was.

This is only a solution when the woman can't find any other doula. Obviously it's not optimal. There are no prenatal meetings to build rapport and learn the woman's needs/preferences. But it would provide a better than 50/50 chance she'd still get the support she wants in labor.

After my last (long, as usual) birth, a colleague proposed another type of doula. The Doula Drill Sargent. This would be the doula who comes in -- good cop, bad cop style -- when labor has reached a plateau or the mother, for whatever reason, isn't responding to "typical" doula encouragement and support. The Doula Drill Sargent would enter and begin barking out things like, "Do you think this is pain? I'll give you pain. Drop and do 20 pushups." Or, "Your mama ain't gonna help you out of this one. You gotta do it yourself. Now let's cut the crap and have a baby." It is probably worth noting that this colleague has not given birth herself.

Whaddaya think?



Blogger reeciebird said...

A drop-in doula might be great for repeat clients. Like you said, it wouldn't be the worst option.

Doula drill sargent? Ew. She must have never had her fingers broken by a laboring woman, either.

4:43 PM  
Anonymous Brynne said...

That drill sargeant bit drew me out of lurking. I cannot think of a worse idea in the entire world. Personally, when I'm laboring I am so in my own little world I cannot even put sentences together very well, much less be motivated by someone barking threats. I could see myself becoming extremely agitated if something like that were to happen, slowing labor, etc. I know it was more of a joke, but it brought out a visceral response in me.

Thanks for your blog, by the way. It's the only birth blog I read and I find it very pleasant.

9:21 PM  
Blogger kristina said...

Brynne, I'm pretty sure that drill sergeant idea was just a bad joke :)

On that note, what about a DOULA'S drill sergeant? When we're tired, frustrated, and used up all of our tricks? I think I'd benefit from someone boosting my adrenaline a bit...

12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the drop-in idea. It's what I'd like for my homebirth coming up in December. I am a doula, know how great doulas are, but really don't want to commit to hiring one right now. It's not the money, I just feel like I may have enough support already (MW, assistant, my husband, mom & other supportive family members who will be in the house). At this point, I'm worried a doula would just be another body in the crowd, but I may change my mind in the coming weeks--or maybe even the day of!

4:17 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Brynne, I'm glad I drew you out of lurking, but the Drill Sargent idea was a bad joke from someone who, as Reeciebird accurately observed, never had her fingers broken by a laboring woman!

I was serious about the drop-in idea, though. I'll continue to explore it... I appreciate the feedback, though. If folks found it revolting, that would be helpful, too!

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

I've contemplated the drop-in doula idea, myself! I think it would be a hit. And, while the drill sergeant bit was a joke, I've been at births where a 'sergeant' kind of nurse can come in when things have gotten stale and pull us all into a new frame of mind. Lacking that, I have a list of doula peers I can call for a pep talk when needed, and some of us have stipulated in our contract that after say, 18+ hours of support we can call in a back-up to assist or relieve us for a brief rest. Those kinds of safety nets can make a world of difference! :)

12:43 PM  
Blogger The Mommy Blawger said...

What would work for the drop-in doula idea is a group practice, or a local doula referral service. A client could call up and get whatever doula is "on call" that day. Would work well for postpartum and antepartum doulas, too. Of course, a client could also pay a deposit to insure the availability of a particular doula for her labor.

1:06 AM  
Blogger Shells said...

What truly amazes me is that since every woman is different during birth, their needs are different, causing the doula or midwife to not only excel at her her craft in a practical way but in a way that is far more intuitive than most of us are able to relate to others.

I am sure that if there was a woman out there who needed that drill sergeant for a time, their midwife/doula would be that for them even if it felt foreign and slightly uncomfortable to the doula.

8:54 AM  
Blogger librarianpm said...

I would totally love a drop-in doula! My first daughter came really fast, and I was able to pull off a natural birth at UM all by myself (with DH). I'm assuming number 2 might be just as fast, so I'm reluctant to hire a doula I might not need. But what if I'm wrong and I'm in a long labor? I'd like the option of calling in a doula to help me with tricks to get through it.

9:25 PM  
Blogger T$ said...

It seems like the "doula drill-sergent" is a harsh name for what also could be considered the "take charge routine". Sometimes in a birth it is called for to get right in a woman's face and get a message to her. It is not something that I do often, but I have done it.

Although personally I hate the "PUSH! PUSH! PUUUUSSSSHHH!" cheering that sometimes happens at births, I have seen women really respond to this as well. They sometimes feel really guided by that verbal cheerleading. Like I said, not something that I would choose, but everyone is different and the more tricks you have up your sleeve the better!

6:37 PM  
Blogger Paula said...

I like the drop in doula idea, too! I have had a lot of fun with last minute clients also. They are often more fired up and appreciative about having the support that they need.

Drill seargeant: spoken like a woman who has never had a baby! Funny.

8:32 AM  
Blogger phillipsmob said...

I love the drop-in doula concept! I want to become a doula but did not know how I would be a succesfull one with going to nursing school at the same time. I may have to try this!

9:46 AM  
Blogger Dorothy Haines said...

I've seen a L&D nurse or two who seem to think that their role is that of a drill sargeant...

I have thought about the idea of working as a drop-in doula myself - there are so many times when committing to another birth for that month would be too stressful, but there are probably at least 20 days out of that month that, if I got a phone call from a mom in labor, I'd be available to help her. Something to think about.

8:02 PM  
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