"Do your doulas perform cervical checks?"

I was having lunch with a dear friend of mine who is a midwife. I hadn't seen her since I gave birth to my own son  and we were having lunch to discuss all the fabulous things we have been up to in the last year. We were having a lovely time chatting about our families and upcoming holidays when the conversation turned to Intown Doula. My friend had not seen me since we opened, so we were talking about the company, what our mission is, and how we stand out. 

She looked at me and asked, very politely, "Do your doulas do cervical checks?"


I had to pause. I was gobsmacked; here I was, sitting across from a woman who has seen me at my very most powerful and who respects me as a professional, and still, she felt it necessary to ask if the doulas affiliated with Intown Doula perform cervical checks. 

She didn't ask this because she thought any of us did, or because she had any reason to be believe we might. She asked because she had no choice but to ask.

You see, there are people who call themselves doulas who do perform cervical checks. They work all over, including in Atlanta, and they are performing tasks that are unmistakably out of the scope of practice for a labor doula. Checking blood pressure, listening to fetal heart tones, performing vaginal exams, and dispensing medical advice are all tasks that are not included in a doula's scope of practice, even if she has licensure or training to do so. When a doula is hired or contracted as a doula, it is that doula's job to wear only that one hat, regardless of what others may hang on the hatrack. Professional doulas stay within their scope of practice for the health, safety, and protection of all parties involved--the birthing client, the care provider, and the doula. 

So when my midwife friend asked me that question, it was because enough times she had been burned by unprofessional doulas acting as medical practitioners, and she wanted me to explicitly say that we weren't going to do that to her.

It made me very sad that I had to tell her that no doula affiliated with Intown Doula has ever or will ever perform medical tasks or other tasks that are out of our scope of practice (or go against our Code of Ethics). But it also made me proud to know that we are working to elevate the profession of doulas and to be able to say to this midwife that we take pride in our role of doula and do not deviate from it. Ever