My Doula Found a Bag of Marijuana in the Drawer

doula business postpartum doula postpartum doula business postpartum doula training Nov 16, 2021

What is a code of ethics?  It’s a standard that you live and work by. These are established definitions of what’s right and what’s wrong. 

As you can imagine, people have varying definitions of what’s right and wrong. There’s a lot of room for interpretation. Yet, there are several things that most all doulas can agree on in terms of the work of a postpartum doula.

For example:

  • If you are unable to show up for a client, call to reschedule or find a replacement
  • If you’re feeling sick, let your client know so they can decide if they want you to come or not
  • If you have to break a contract all together, be sure to talk about what happens in this instance (ahead of time)

This is all common sense and decency. You do want to give it some thought as to how you will handle your business and contractual obligations made with your postpartum doula clients. Life events can shift in a moment’s notice. A sick child, a broken car, an accident, or a family emergency. Your clients depend on you for guidance, support and reassurance.

Having a plan of action, or a protocol in place for these unforeseen circumstances will make your postpartum doula business run smoother, and make your life easier.

What about a personal code of ethics? This is where it may be different for lots of different postpartum doulas.  I do a fun activity in my Doula Quest training called “What Would You do If?” There are always diverse answers and responses and interesting discussion that develops.

One question is: “What would you do if you found a bag of marijuana in the kitchen drawer?” Answers in class range from close the drawer, to get out quick for fear of legal repercussions. See how far apart those responses are? The definition of right and wrong for you may not be the same as the next doula.

This happened to one of my postpartum doulas, as she was searching for something to do and decided to put away some dishes. The MotherBaby were napping, and all other tasks had been taken care of.  My postpartum doula shared with me that she wasn’t 100% positive it was marijuana, yet she’d had experience with her teenage sons. Her choice was to close the drawer. She felt that she was snooping in a way because her client had not asked her to do anything else. It was a reaction and choice at the moment. There will be many of these as you work with a variety of clients with a variety of lifestyle choices.

I encourage you to write your own code of ethics. Take some time to consider certain behaviors, or situations where you could and couldn’t provide non-judgmental service. Being uncomfortable is okay and it’s where tremendous personal growth is possible. Feeling unsafe or morally compromised is not.  Notice your judgement and listen to your own intuition.

Personally, I have many opinions and ideas of how I think a baby needs to be cared for. I also have acquired a lot of knowledge through training, experience and research. There’s a way to guide parents to their own decisions.

As a postpartum doula your morals and values will guide you. They likely got you hired. Choose words and actions that reflect who you are.

Remember that you’re not responsible for how someone interprets your words. Facts are facts. Offer it up if it will help the situation. Refer to your code of ethics, and be fair and honest with all your postpartum doula clients.

Even though what you might choose is not the same as your postpartum doula client chooses, it’s not your job to impose your personal views. A neutral stance is best, unless you have a safety, or moral concern for yourself or the MotherBaby couple, or partner.

For more about postpartum doula training, check out my signature program, Doula Quest.

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