I was recently invited to attend a childbirth education class through Inanna Birth and Women’s Care in Denton, TX. One of the instructors had to leave unexpectedly to attend a birth as a doula. As she left, she mentioned that she needed to go home to change into her doula clothes. After she left, most of the attending couples were very curious as to what doulas wear to a birth.
In the doula world, there is a bit of debate regarding the doula “uniform.” Some doulas prefer to wear scrubs, others prefer to wear a tee shirt and yoga pants, and others wear a mix. There is also a question of wearing jewelry, scent, and makeup.
Scrubs are easier to clean and are fairly comfortable, however, I have chosen to not make them a part of my doula attire. My first concern is how wearing scrubs may be perceived by the mother. Some people are intimidated by someone in scrubs. I would never want to unintentionally cause a woman in labor to feel intimidated or fearful by how I dress. Another concern is causing possible confusion for others. Scrubs are the uniform of the medical team. As a doula, I am not a part of the medical team. I wouldn’t want the staff to feel as though I am pretending to be something I am not and I wouldn’t want to cause any confusion for the other patients or families.
My uniform of choice is a pair of pants that make it easy to bend and stretch, like loose fitting yoga pants or lounge pants, and a nice tee shirt. I have plans to have some tees printed for my business so it is clear that I am the doula. I have a pair of Klogs from my days as a CT tech that are still in excellent shape and a pair of tennis shoes that keep my feet feeling well cared for after several hours of standing. Even though the mother often gets very hot as labor progresses, the rest of those supporting her often get very cold, so I will always bring a light jacket with me. I will also bring hair ties, a head band, and/or a hair clip to pull my hair back. I don’t wear much jewelry on a daily basis and will likely remove my wedding rings in case mom needs to squeeze my hand during a contraction. I wouldn’t normally considered wearing a necklace to a birth. However, I recently read an article by a doula who said she wears a long necklace of either a stone, a flower, or a spiral as a focal point for the mother. One of her clients commented on the article and expressed how much she enjoyed concentrating on her necklace during her labor. I had never thought about that but I can see how it would be helpful. It may be something I will consider in the future.
It is important for doulas to consider how our attire is viewed by others. We need to wear what is comfortable for us so we can focus on helping the mother and family while also being respectful. We are professionals who care greatly for our clients, their families, and other medical staff and our “uniform” should represent such.