From New Beginnings Statement of Professionalism, it provides us with this description of the ethical responsibility of the doula:

“The work of a professional doula can be involved in many experiences that include ethical responsibility. Ethical issues are a part of the work. These can range from how we react when we disagree with other doulas or healthcare professionals to how we view the role of a doula. When ethical standards have been defined, it decreases some of the problems inherent in these dilemmas because it provides guidance on what actions should be taken. Thus, it is important for the professional doula to adhere to a set of ethical standards either set by a certification organization or ones that they have set for themselves. At minimum, a professional doula should adhere to these values: honesty, respect for colleagues (including medical professionals) and clients, accountability, and equal treatment for clients and other members of the birth team.”.

In order to provide guidance for our certified doulas, New Beginnings has created these additional responsibilities that our doulas have to themselves, their clients, and their community,

Ethical Responsibility to Clients

A New Beginnings Doula is responsible for respecting and honoring thier client’s needs. New Beginnings believes that many women are in need of support in standing up for their own voice, particularly in an environment where choice is minimized and women are placed in very vulnerable positions, thus advocacy is an integral part of what they do.  In so doing, a New Beginnings doula recognizes that there is a way to advocate that allows a woman to speak for herself and voice her own views and autonomy, without the doula resorting to passive aggressive behaviors or being speaking for the woman.  Instead they are taught to communicate in a way that allows a woman to speak for herself and provides opportunities for collaboration with all team members.

When providing services, the New Beginnings doula should clearly state services provided, terms of payment, and refund polices. She should represent herself clearly.  This includes letting her clients know her education, credentials, and certifications, and only performing services they are qualified to perform.  If care is needed outside her scope of practice, the New Beginnings doula will provide appropriate referrals.

Creating a trusting relationship between the doula and her client is important due to the private and sometimes very personal nature of work a doula does.  Without that trust, a client may not feel comfortable sharing everything they need to in order to ensure the best care possible.  Thus, it is expected that client’s information be kept private and out of the public realm, unless permission has been given to share.  Disclosing any information to the family or friends of a client is not appropriate unless permission is given.  Also, discussing private information in a public forum or publicly online without permission is not appropriate.

Ethical Responsibility to the Doula Profession

A New Beginnings doula should work to advance the profession of a doula by promoting the value of a doula within her community and upholding her standards.  A New Beginnings doula is expected to uphold the guidelines of a professional doula as outlined in our statement of professionalism.  This includes the following commitments:

-providing care to their clients and community with “integrity and morality, altruism, and the promotion of the public good”.

-do their best to work in a framework of collaboration with other doula businesses or organizations, as this is what will best serve birth women and our communities.

-living by a set of ethical standards. At minimum these include honesty, respect for colleagues (including medical professionals) and clients, accountability, and equal treatment for clients and other members of the birth team.

-provide quality work and dedicate themselves to the profession of a doula.

-adding to the doula professions current body of knowledge by gaining an education in their profession through certification, mentorships, or field experience, and by furthering their education of the role of the doula by staying current on literature as it is published.  They also complete continuing education units, according to the rules of their certifying organization.

Ethical Responsibility to Society

A New Beginnings doula helps to promote the welfare of women and babies in her community.  Research is continuing to show the invaluable service continuous labor support can provide.  “Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”  (ACOG, 2014).  Because of this, a New Beginnings doula is encouraged to work within her community to ensure that doula services are made available to any woman who desires them regardless of income.  They are encouraged to be creative in creating ways in which to do so that will allow the profession to flourish and still meet the needs of all women.

References:

Lothian, J. A. (2014). Safe Prevention of the Primary Cesarean Delivery: ACOG and SMFM Change the Game. The Journal of Perinatal Education, 23(3), 115–118. http://doi.org/10.1891/1058-1243.23.3.115

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2014). Obstetric care consensus no. 1: Safe prevention of the primary cesarean delivery. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 123(3), 693–711