Not “your mamma”

So the interesting thing about language is we often fall into the vernacular of our communities, intending to be understood, to show we belong and communicate in a way our community understands.

This is why I totally understand how doulas use some phrases without thinking.

Because if we take the time to think about it, some of the language that has developed among doulas is problematic.

I’m talking about doulas referring to clients as “my mamma”, or “my woman” or any of these variations. “I have a woman in labour… My woman is at x hospital… I have a labourer …”

Women don’t belong to us. We can’t claim them.

As doulas working in an industry that strips women physically and metaphorically of their autonomy, we must be vigilant about the language we use. When a large part of our work is creating scaffolding around women, supporting them to maintain autonomy and agency, it makes no sense that we use language that is patriarchal and paternalistic in nature.

Women’s bodies have been claimed over time by fathers, husbands, churches, governments and doctors. Let’s not add ourselves to this list.

Please be mindful of how you discuss women in your care. If you are debriefing or talking about clients and trying to maintain anonymity (so not calling them by name) try out a few phrases that you might use instead.


 

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