When mothers hire a doula they are usually looking for someone that is going to support them, educate them, not judge them and ADVOCATE for them. As a doula I do all of the above and then some but the way I advocate is a little different.
My biggest no-no as a doula is that I don't speak for my clients. I don't say what my client does and does not want and if I ever slip up and do I always double check with my client for their approval. This is why I think it is so important to have that personal relationship with your client and if you can have it with their support person as well, even better. Being a doula isn't like any other service, it is one of the most personal relationships you could ever have and probably the fastest.
With my clients, I don't want all of our conversations to be you giving me updates on your appointment or asking questions about remedies for a headache. Yes those are helpful too but I want to talk about how your day was at work. I want to hear about how you and your partner meet or how does it affect you mentally and emotionally if you aren't together. I want to know what your pet peeves are and your childhood memories. I want to know you as a person before you give birth to the new woman that you are going to be. I want my clients to trust me enough to tell me how you are tired of your cousin telling you that you should stock on formula because it is weird to breastfeed pass 3 months.
Though it may not seem like it, I feel like having these sister like conversation makes advocating a lot more successful, let me explain why. With my coaching part of being a doula I teach my clients how to advocate for themselves. At some point I show the BRAIN strategy to make things simpler but I also tell them to listen to their gut, if they feel that something isn't right always ask questions. But this is when knowing my clients personally come in. I have had clients that are very strong minded and I have had some that are a lot more timid but when you are tired, hungry, in pain and just want to meet your baby you may not know how to respond to the questions being asked or the statements being made. The good thing that is usually by this time I know you, I can tell by your face or body langue that you just need a minute or that you are not fully understanding what is being said to you but don't know how to ask that. So what I do instead of speaking to the doctor or nurse for you I communicate with you, remind you to take a second to breathe and let me know your thoughts and this can be done in private or in front of the hospital staff.
Another thing that I do advocate on is consent. I fully understand that as a doctor/nurse, they are highly educated and they have delivered more babies than I could probably think of but that does not mean that they should not ask permission to do anything to/for you or your baby. So for example it can be something as simple as the nurse just walking in the room saying "Hey, I am going to adjust your monitor." That is statement, there was no permission asked if something can be done to your body. But it can go as extreme as the doctor walking in saying "Hey it has been about 3-4 hours so I am going to check your cervix to see where you are and if there hasn't been any progress made then I am going to break your water." I have seen this happen multiple times and while this is being said to a mom, she is in the middle of a contraction and the doctor is putting their gloves on having the nurse flatten the bed. At that time I would step in asking them to wait for your contraction to finish and once it is done before the doctor could do anything I would say to you "Hey hun the doctor just walked in saying that they would like to check your cervix to see where you are and depending on where your cervix is they may break your water. How do you feel about that and what questions do you have, if you need a minute to think about it that is ok." Believe it or not this is me advocating for my client, simply making everyone take a minute can make a huge difference. It may seem so simple to say, if the mom didn't want it done then she can just say no but until you are in it, you don't realize how some doctors/nurses can put that fear in you or make it seem like you don't have a choice but please know that you always have an option. Please know that not all nurses or doctors are like this and it is even less likely with a midwife but the more prepared you are the better.
I treat my clients like my babies no matter how old they are, I am in protective mode starting day one. If you feel like this is the type of support you need during your journey please free to reach out, I am always willing to empower another sister!