Wednesday, March 13, 2013
5 Ideas for talking about circumcision with clients
Back in November I attended a workshop for doulas taught by fellow doula and Intact Houston leader on how to talk about circumcision with clients. I showed up about 20 minutes late because I kept driving around in circles trying to find a place to park. I was so embarrassed. I was also embarrassed because I had to bring Lily with me. I guess it was silly of me to worry so much, because once I sat down in the group, I noticed that I was among friends. We were a small group, but I knew just about everyone there.
It was a more intimate discussion than I thought it would be. Imagine getting together with some of your closest doula friends at someone's house discussing birthy things over hot chocolate. Only without the hot chocolate. It was more like a brainstorming session.
Here are a few ideas we came up with:
1. Use social media to spread our message:
One of the things we decided to do was to back each other up when we see a fellow doula posting anything about circumcision by "liking" or commenting on the posts.
2. Create circumcision packets:
Some doulas shared stories about how they heard other doulas prepared "Circumcision packets" for those clients who knew they were having a boy. "Oh? You're having a boy? Congratulations! This is just a little packet of info I share with my clients who are having boys."
3. Use Prenatal packets:
Some suggested including information in their regular prenatal packets and include it when discussing Routine Newborn Procedures. I think this is the one I would like to do to start.
4. Consultation packets:
Some doulas include a little information in their interview packets. I'd like to try this too. If it drives away a potential client, so be it. That seemed to be the general consensus among the group.
5. Share videos:
Some doulas suggested having couples watch a circumcision procedure or giving DVDs to clients to watch on their own. I'm not sure I could do this as I have not been able to do this myself.
What I learned:
Sometimes you just never know how people will react. As a doula, families hire us because there is a connection and because they trust us to provide honest information to the best of our abilities. My concern was whether or not this is appropriate for a doula to bring up and someone said this might be the only time they hear this information. They'll get PA-LENTY of pro-circumcision information from friends, neighbors, pediatricians and obstetricians. It's possible that they'll get plenty of pro-intact info from those same people, but what if they don't? What if the only person they get another viewpoint from is their doula? There are even some Childbirth Education programs that don't allow instructors to talk about it. After all, doulas are typically the ones already sharing information that is not mainstream.
But this is a very delicate situation, and a doula needs to be very careful to "know her audience" so to speak. For example, in my opinion, this is just MY OPINION (there were doulas at the meeting that disagreed), if circumcision is very much a religious issue, I don't feel comfortable pursuing the issue. I don't like it when people who are not members of my faith try to tell me what I believe or how members of my faith are supposed to believe or behave, and I definitely don't like it when they try to use my scriptures against me. For that reason, I do not feel comfortable quoting holy writings to anyone when I am not a member of that faith and honestly don't know anything about those holy writings except a small excerpt or quote that I would be using to defend my position. My plan at this time is to plant seeds by including information in the info packs that I hand out, and that's the best I feel I can do at this point.
Because this is such a sensitive topic, you may start talking about it and one or both parents genuinely act traumatized. What do you do in that situation? Again, case by case, the doula will have to follow her instincts. I would probably say something like, "I am so sorry. I can see this is a sensitive subject. This is something I go over with all of my clients, but we can move on to the next topic. I have more information in your packet for you to review on your own."
We all hope that there will be light bulb moments, but sometimes that just won't happen. The families that we serve have to make their own decisions. I know a lot of times I hear, "If she were truly educated she wouldn't choose to xyz." Besides being a huge pet-peeve of mine, statements like that are not very supportive. As doulas we are supposed to check our agendas and opinions at the door. If we have done our jobs right, our clients will be empowered to make their own decisions even if it goes against everything we stand for.
Which leads me to my next question. Can you support someone who you know will choose circumcision? After all the information has been presented, what if they still feel like circumcision is the right choice?
Search your heart. Be honest. The family deserves to know if this is something that would hinder you from serving them to your fullest. And you have the right to change your mind about serving a family. The relationship has to be a good fit for all involved.
For me, I am able to separate the fact that a family may choose circumcision from my ability to serve as their doula. I think babies are wonderful, and I enjoy cuddling with them at the postpartum visit. However, my main concern is the birthing mother with the birth partner being a close second. But you better believe I breathe a huge sigh of relief when I know the baby is a girl!
I do not have any sons, but if I do, my husband and I have already made the decision as to whether or not we will have our son(s) circumcised.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of reading material on circumcision, but these are a few places to start one's research on the topic.
The WHOLE Network
Ask Dr. Sears: Whether or Not to Circumcise
Posted by Kristi at 6:29 PM