At Capita, I’ve written an appreciation of doulas. My daughter was born with the help and support of a close friend who was training as a doula. That experience left me grateful for Bria… and furious her work was considered “extra” to medicine. A medical system that ignores the value of doulas leaves a lot of care out of what counts.
To talk to a doctor, you have to be a translator. A patient has to make his or her experience accessible to the doctor, but the resulting translation can be clumsy. Think of those pain scales, with the laminated little faces, shading gradually from serenity to sorrow to screams. The doctor needs some kind of standard in order to apply diagnoses and to conglomerate individual patients into statistics. But the gap between the patient’s experience and how it’s measured is often, itself, painful. […]
Doulas help to bridge the gap between patient and provider—a gap that exists for more than just laboring mothers. Recognizing the worth of doulas’ work should spur us to ask where else patients are missing out on care that is undervalued because it isn’t easily quantified, or because it is too tender, slow, and personalized to look like what we expect of medicine.