Doulas have long provided needed care and support to women during pregnancy, childbirth, and for the first few weeks of a new baby’s life. Now, some in the profession have decided to go one step further to provide services to women who decide to have an abortion.
What is the Purpose of an Abortion Doula?
What is an abortion doula? An abortion doula is an individual, typically a woman, who offers emotional support to a pregnant woman who decides to have an abortion. Exact services vary, but some common ones include accompanying a woman to and from the clinic, staying in the operating room with a woman during the abortion if the clinic allows non-relatives to remain present, and simply spending time with the woman before and/or after the procedure to provide a listening ear and emotional support.
It is important to realize that doulas are not medical professionals. They cannot offer medical care and their services should never take the place of proper medical assistance. Women who experience complications as a result of an abortion should seek immediate medical help rather than relying on a doula for medical counsel.
Birth Doula vs Abortion Doula
Birth doulas, like abortion doulas, do not have medical training; however, there are some important differences between the two specializations.
Birth doulas meet the women they work with during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. They help pregnant women draw up a birth plan, offer insight into the labor and delivery process, and teach relaxation and breathing techniques. Some hospitals will allow doulas to be present during the birth to provide support.
Abortion doulas, on the other hand, may meet a woman having an abortion just a few minutes before the procedure. This is especially true if a woman has traveled from out of state to have an abortion. Furthermore, because abortion doulas are not medical professionals, they cannot give qualified advice on abortion options or how to handle complications. Furthermore, many doulas do not live in the same city as their clients and so cannot provide ongoing, in-person support and assistance.
Do Abortion Doulas Assist in the Decision-Making Process?
Abortion doulas do not provide counseling to women who are considering the pros and cons of abortion, adoption, and keeping the baby. Rather, they focus on supporting a woman after she has already decided to have an abortion. For women who are sure of their decision and simply want someone to hold their hand and keep them company, the services of an abortion doula are ideal. On the other hand, those who are still struggling with the decision may want to seek professional counseling to discuss their situation and receive personalized assistance from a qualified medical professional.
How Does an Abortion Doula Connect with His or Her Patients?
Abortion doulas typically work with medical facilities that provide abortion services. They may connect with the women they are working with in person or virtually if the woman takes medication to end the pregnancy rather than coming into a clinic for a surgical abortion. Many such doulas offer their services at no or a low cost to ensure women have the support they need even if they cannot afford to pay for additional assistance.
Abortion doulas are not trained counselors and do not approach women as such. Rather, they come alongside as a friend to offer a listening ear to women who want to talk or provide casual conversation to women who want to think about something other than an upcoming or recently completed medical procedure. Some may offer practical council to women regarding self-care after an abortion or be able to provide women coming from out of state with advice on finding a good hotel near their clinic, but such forms of help are not guaranteed as a doula herself may come from out of town and so be unable to offer practical assistance to women who have to travel out of state in order to get an abortion.
Are There Other Types of Doulas?
Some doulas specialize in antepartum care. They handle childcare and household chores to help women who are in danger of a premature birth get extra rest. Some doulas provide postpartum care to help a woman with chores and childcare, so she can recover after the birth and spend time with the new baby. Other doulas specialize in helping women learn how to breastfeed properly, so the new baby can get needed nutrition from a mother’s milk. In fact, some doulas perform more than one service as needed. A birth doula, for instance, may also offer abortion doula services; alternatively, a post-partum doula may also be able to offer assistance with breastfeeding.
Every pregnant woman needs and deserve emotional support and practical assistance. Doulas provide an important service by helping women through challenging circumstances by providing a listening ear, supportive counsel, a friendly shoulder to cry on, and more. However, women who are seriously considering having an abortion should never rely solely on an abortion doula for care, support, and advice. An abortion is a medical procedure that can cause complications in some instances, so medical care and counsel is a must for those who have decided to end their pregnancies. Willowbrook Women’s Center is staffed by licensed medical professionals who can offer medical care and critical information to pregnant women of all ages and walks of life. We offer abortion options information in addition to resources regarding other options, including birth and adoption. Our team also offers STD testing to ensure a woman does not have an STD, as women who test positive for an STD will need medical care and treatment before childbirth or an abortion. For those who opt to keep the baby, we offer services and resources both before and after childbirth. If you or someone you know is pregnant and could benefit from a pre-abortion screening, get in touch with us at your convenience, and we will do everything we can to offer you the support and care you need.