"Just" a Doula With No Medical Background

I’m a doula. With no "medical background". That helps me be most effective for my clients.


I recently came to this articulation at a baby shower for a friend.


“Did you find it difficult to transition to the doula profession without a medical background?” asked another party-goer, amidst polite chit-chat.


This question threw me a bit for a loop. It’s a question that underscores the deep lack of understanding that persists about the role of a doula. It was a question I was happy for the opportunity to answer.


After thinking about it for a moment, I carefully crafted my answer to her, starting off of course with the most important part, the sentence I’ve said more times that I could possibly count:



“Well, we are not medical professionals, so medical training is certainly not necessary.”


But then I went on to address what I assume was her true inquiry: "how do you know what the heck you are doing in an environment of medical expertise?!"


My clients are consumers in a retail environment and my job is to walk alongside them,” I explained, carefully.


“In my role as a doula,

I can empathize with my clients, 

as I have been a consumer of maternity care services, with no medical background when I birthed my own babies.


I know how it feels to not know what you don’t know, or to feel regretful about not knowing what to ask. 


But here's the thing: I've now walked this journey as a consumer many, many times in Grand Rapids and other Lakeshore hospitals in my role as a doula, as has the entire team at GR Doulas:

We’ve learned to be really good consumers.


Of course, the GR Doulas team of certified doulas draws from our training through DONA International, our continuing education requirements and most importantly, our experience with the medical side of maternity care.

Spectrum Health’s Patients Rights & Responsibilities document says as a consumer, you have not only the right but the responsibility to participate in your care as a safety measure.

That means it is expected that patients from all backgrounds should be able to participate in their care, with or without a medical background.


It’s a BIG responsibility, one for which we prepare our clients. 


You can do it. We'll support you.

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