It's really wonderful that women are beginning to ask a lot of questions regarding their health. It's been a truly beautiful revolution to witness as a birth worker who wants nothing more than for people to "wake up" from the dream we've been sold for a very long time about what we are and are not capable of. And, we do believe that people should be taking more accountability for their health and well-being outside of the medical world.
However, I'm beginning to get concerned about the amount of "advice" that is getting thrown around on different social media outlets. Women asking questions and getting answers from other women with limited experience and knowledge outside of their personal experience can be dangerous. I can't help but see how this could be a really slippery slope, and, I'm also seeing it fail many women as well.
Being a part of an online group or network is not going to replace a true professional. I see many women who are getting advice that they could or would be getting from their doula or midwife (or other care provider) if they had made the investment in themselves, their birth and postpartum outcomes in the first place. You can not be "doula'd" over the internet. Not fully.
As a doula, I do know a lot of the answers to the questions that are asked online - and, yes, I see people being told inaccurate information a lot as well. But, I'm also seeing a lot of birth professionals hand out the answers for free! Now, we understand the desire to promote yourself and provide for the people, but, we can NOT give ourselves, our knowledge, or our profession away like this. I see these questions online and I think to myself "That woman should have hired a doula" - because had she been working with a doula for not only her birth, but, for her pregnancy as well - it's likely she could have avoided "X,Y or Z" in the first place.
Not that it it ever our job to give "advice", it's our job to fully and factually inform so women can be empowered to make educated decisions. "Advice" can get us into trouble - especially if it turns out to be bad advice. But, empowering people to make their own choices with all the information - THAT is safe....but, that's not what's going on here. Women are being given opinions and random Google articles written by "who knows" and taking it in as "advice".
Now, we want women to share their experiences, their stories and what did and did not work for them. We do think that is great!! We just want both sides to take this into consideration:
- If you are a mother looking for advice, take the time to seek out a professional. If you believe that the health and well being of you and your family are a worthy investment - then invest in it. When you do, you are directly supporting someone who has poured themselves into providing for people just like you in ways the traditional medical field just can't touch. At the very least, be careful what you take in as advice from others. Always consider the source and remember that you are a completely different individual with different circumstances and needs.
- If you are not a professional, be careful what you say and how you say it and always note that you are NOT a professional and that this is just your personal experience.
- If you ARE a professional, also be careful giving out advice FOR FREE. There is nothing wrong with saying "I have more information on this that I really think could benefit you. If you would like to PM/Email me, we could set up a consultation and I can answer your questions more fully." - then GET PAID for all your hard work, your expertise and knowledge!!! We work so hard to serve families, yet, we're very often undervalued and over-used. When work comes from the heart like it does for birth workers, it's easy to give yourselves away - but, people who are not invested in some way tend to not take it seriously anyways. There needs to be an energy exchange of some kind. It doesn't have to be monetary, but, it should never be for FREE.