June 25

I Do Not Support Doula Regulation (and neither should you)


I do not support Doula regulation and if you care about birthwork, neither should you!

Here’s why.

“To know where you are going, look where you have been”- unknown

From the Doula Trainings International website it says: “This week a bill was passed through the Senate and Assembly (A00364B and S-03344-B) regulating doulas in New York State.We understand that this bill is an effort to address the same serious issues the state faces that were highlighted by the Maternal Mortality and Disparate Racial Outcomes Task Force which published recommendations in March 2019. Unfortunately, the bill as written would undermine the very community based doula work that is key to addressing these outcomes.”

This bill was passed seemingly without any input from doulas and certifying bodies currently working in the doula profession. New York is only the beginning. It was only a matter of time.

I said only a few nights ago at a doula gathering, now that they have successfully prosecuted midwives enough to make an example and keep them from speaking they will be coming for us next! It is imperative now more than ever for us to unite together to stop the same thing that has happened to midwives to happen to doulas or so help us and the next generation of babies and birthing people. It is an incredible privilege to not be regulated and one that we do not take lightly. Regulation will be the death of women/birthing people centred doula work just as it has been for midwifery.

First it was the introduction of mandatory insurance, then endorsement, then it was the persecution and vilification of midwives and midwives turning against one another and reporting them to authorities and then we lost all of our midwives and women/birthing people lost all options… freebirth rates have risen, but not by choice.

New midwives are coming into the profession completely indoctrinated by the system they have no idea how things could actually be or how they can support women and pregnant people to actually have a choice. Many are too traumatised, too scared and too brainwashed to speak up! Regulation killed their ability to practice the craft that they were called to. Many are turning to doula work because this is the only place they are still able to have a voice and support women/birthing people in a way that puts them (and not the policies) first.

Surprise surprise, of course our voices need to be silenced now too.

There are some midwives who are bravely speaking out about some of the atrocities they have witnessed that they haven’t felt comfortable or felt frightened to question when working in the system. Studies have proven they carry fear, trauma and moral injury because of the position they have been put in to follow protocol and policy instead of the desires and informed choice of the women/birthing people. Not by choice! Not because midwives want to be practicing this way but because of the broken system! How many midwives are leaving the profession, frightened and burnt out because they feel there is no hope left and they no longer want to partake in doing more harm than good.

As doulas, we do not provide any medical tasks, we do not give advice. We are there as support and as an invaluable resource for information and emotional care. But we are also not bound by these rigid and suffocating policies. We work for our clients, so we get to help support them to use their voice, and we just get to speak up about issues that need attention! We also get to charge whatever fee we feel matches our exchange and attract clients that want to work with our unique skill set and personality! There is no one size fits all. There is no one doula. There is no one right way to be a doula. There is a doula for every woman/birthing person that wants one and to try to mould us into a box will mean a loss of options for everyone.

Women & birthing people are not stupid! THEY get to choose who is present at their birth, NOT you! Regulation like this assumes that women and birthing people don’t have the capacity or ability to make their own informed choices about who their hire and whom they choose to birth with! That for some reason we need to take the responsibility away from them and ‘protect’ them by taking away their choices and offering them only the patriarchal definition of a ‘good moral’ doula. One type of doula will never suit all people and taking away choice from women and birthing people AND taking away choice from how doulas run their own practice is only going to hurt the greater mission for this work

How DARE they not consult actual doulas and doula organisation who are at the front line of this work? Oh, that’s right, they don’t want us to speak out. They can see that doulas are gaining momentum and are unafraid to speak up for what we believe in. We must be coming up as some sort of threat that they need to squash us. But if we can unite together and shout loudly enough maybe we can prevent our own demise. Make no mistake though, one of the most powerful ways to take us down will be from the inside out, just as it happened here with midwifery. First they persecuted and made examples of those they couldn’t control, then they indoctrinated the new ones with such great fear and internalised misogyny that they were the ones to rely on for reporting their own! It’s very easy to do.

One of the most common arguments for medicare/medicaid is that doulas then become affordable for those in need; well I call absolute bullshit on that because nothing is ever free and everything comes at a cost!

As professional doulas we should already have systems in place to be able to offer services to our most vulnerable. If you are charging a living wage, you can afford to absorb a few births a year without it taking food from your own table; “you cannot give what you don’t have.” Alternatively (and even better I think!) you could give to established organisations with specific focus on support for those in need such as birth for human kind without it impacting on our profession as a whole.

Having lived in a place where regulation has completely killed midwifery and birthing choices, experienced first hand the impacts of not having any choices, and having seen the impacts on the community I can say that there is nothing good about this, or any plan for regulation!

We need to remain autonomous in order to serve our clients in a way that best serves THEM! We cannot be slaves to external policies that only serve the pockets of the patriarchy.

Do not kid yourself, Medicaid/medicare funded doulas are NOT free doulas. There are massive costs associated that you may not be able to see just yet, but by gosh you will experience them. It will only contribute to higher maternal mental health issues and higher maternal mortality rates because the choice for support will be even lower than it already is. There is a better way.

We CAN be trusted with this absolute privilege that is to not be regulated.


Are you a new doula in your first 12 months of business struggling to navigate this new world? Have you felt the pangs of isolation, wished someone experienced in the field could doula YOU through what next steps to take to create your own thriving and successful doula business?
Thrive for doulas has been created just for YOU! And we are starting on Aug 1st! places are limited and time is running out to join.


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