“Advocacy is defined as supporting the birthing person in their right to make decisions about their own body and baby.”
Advocacy is a tough topic because some doulas and doula organizations don’t believe that is their role. But if we look at advocacy as it’s defined in the quote above, it’s absolutely in the scope of a doula’s role.
Let’s first discuss why is advocacy necessary:
“The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world where maternal mortality is rising. And, the U.S. has nearly the highest maternal mortality rate among high-income countries. And with respect to infant mortality, the U.S. ranks 33 out of 36 Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations.”
These outcomes are worst for black and indigenous birthing people. America is doing something wrong when it comes to birthers and infants. There are many things we can point to as potential reasons (one huge reason being racism) for these statistics. But when talking about doulas informational support and advocacy is where we can start.
Some examples of advocacy could be:
Encouraging the birther and family to ask questions, speak up for their preferences, and stand their ground.
Focusing on what the birthing person wants both before labor and during it. Amplifying their voices if necessary. My favorite phrase is “excuse me they were trying to say something”.
Creating space for the birther and their family by asking for time to make decisions, or even time to rest.
Asking questions and bringing attention to any intervention a provider or nurse are about to preform.
Educating (informational support) birthers on all of their choices and rights.
Empowering the birther to stand up for themselves and their decisions.