Monday, July 13, 2009

Male doulas & the power dynamic

Interesting article up about the first male doula certified by DONA. It got me wondering whether a male doula would experience fewer, more, or the same number of power-struggle encounters doulas sometimes face.

Rarely, but occasionally, I have encountered hostility from nurses and doctors. I have heard plenty more stories from other doulas about this. Recently, a doula posted to a listserv about a terrible experience where the medical staff were extremely hostile to her - it wasn't an issue with her specific practice, they just didn't like doulas. They essentially assumed she was there to undermine and sabotage them. Their hostility escalated until they were threatening to throw her out just for doing her job (like requesting the parents have time to think over their options in a non-emergency situation).

Thankfully I've never experienced anything this bad, but in the hostility I've encountered the power struggle is still there - over who the patient trusts, asks to advocate for her and turns to for advice. Sometimes, particularly with nurses, I think there is a concern about being replaced as the primary caregiver. As 99.9% of doulas are female, 99.9% of L&D nurses are female, and a growing percentage of OBs (and doctors in general) are female, I wonder if adding a male doula to the mix shakes up the power dynamic. Should gender affect this? No. Would it? I have to wonder. Would he be more or less welcome? More or less threatening?

1 comment:

Marianne said...

So interesting... I think (hope) it would depend on the person and his dynamic, and how he presents himself. Perhaps it would be the opposite, that there would be more power struggle since a male does not usually take on this non-medical/emotional role??