Sometimes, when people ask what we do, they ask a lot of questions. They’ve heard of doulas, but never hired one. One of the common ‘objections‘ we hear is “but how do you build rapport with someone in just a few meetings? Isn’t it just like inviting a stranger to your birth?” It’s not, and here is why:
The answer to how we build rapport is, “because that is our job”. Doulas are experts at asking open-ended questions. They allow us to get to know our clients quickly. We learn how to walk a fine line of sharing ourselves and being open, without making the conversation about us. We learn ways to help people open up about thoughts and fears and hopes and dreams.
Think about other times you get to know someone. On a first date, you know pretty quickly if you want to see someone again. If you’ve ever seen a therapist of any kind, you know that you build a relationship in the first appointment, and it’s vital you do, because they need you to be open if you are going to benefit. The first appointment with a doctor of midwife, you either want to stay with them or you don’t.Yes our job is more emotionally intense, because there can be less time for the get-to-know-you stage, but both parties work to make that rapport happen.
As doulas, we strive to ask the questions and find the answers that give our clients the feelings of trust, safety and security that our they are seeking.
When we meet with clients, we aren’t just there to write a birth plan, practice some breathing exercises and show your partner how to do a double hip squeeze. Of course we go over all those things with you. We talk about what to expect at your chosen place of birth, cover when to call us, talk about and practice coping techniques, and discuss what to expect postpartum. But you will notice, we want you to do most of the talking! When you talk, we are able to listen, and the more information you give us, the better we can support you.
Listening is the foundation of rapport and relationships aren’t only built in prenatal meetings. They are built through phone calls and emails and text messages too. That’s why we encourage you to contact us with your questions!
So next time you aren’t sure about inviting a “stranger” into your birth, remember, we won’t be a stranger by the time you give birth. Even if we only meet you the day before!