Your comment about the doula overstepping her bounds made me curious -- would you sometime give some examples of this happening? Not that I'm doubting it happens, but just wondering what it looks like. On one of my email lists, I sometimes read stories written from the doulas' perspective, and I read how they view the birth (and many times the manipulation they see women undergo, to accept things they have clearly stated they did not want), so I'm looking for a balancing opinion -- from someone who likes it when women have doulas, because so many stories I read include birth attendants who most obviously did *not* like doulas in general, or at least that doula in particular.
I want to address the 'manipulation' first. That term bothers me a bit because I am not sure what you mean by it. There are times when I do have to make a recommendation for 'something' that I know the woman may not want. This usually involves exhausting all other options first, then trying 'whatever' to achieve a certain goal. This typically comes with an explanation of why I think we need to do 'something'. When it comes down to it - the doula is a support person. I am the one who bears ultimate responsibility for the outcome for both mother and child. It's a heavy burden.
I can't stress enough that I think doulas are very valuable members of the team. What I hate, and this has rarely been a problem, is a doula who gets in the way of the relationship I have established with the woman throughout her entire pregnancy. Part of that relationship is the building of trust. I would certainly hope that a woman trusts me enough to know that whatever recommendations I may make, are made with no ulterior motive (i.e. golf tee times, etc). If a woman can't trust me, then she sure shouldn't be seeing me!
So, I have had a doula who would start whispering in the woman's ear the minute i left the room. The gist of the conversation being that the woman didn't need 'whatever' I was suggesting. A family member told me later about it. I was not happy. That's sabotage. I don't have a problem if a doula wants to bring up other suggestions, or questions in an open conversation - that's totally great!
The only other negative experience I have had was with a doula who really didn't do squat for the woman, other than kinda hang out. That ticked me off as this doula was being paid for her services and I felt like my patient was not getting her money's worth.
All my other experiences have been very positive. I recommend doulas to women who express interest :) I view them as a member of the team, right along with dad, the nurse, myself, etc.
Thanks, as always, for your comments Kathy!!!!