doula - not appropriate in elementary school?? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 01-21-2013, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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I would appreciate responses on how people think about the following incident.


I'm a doula in Houston, TX.  Recently my son's elementary school (public) had a "career day",

in which parents of various profession visit a class to talk about their jobs.  


I volunteered to come and talk about doula.  As I prepared for the talk for 2nd graders, I thought I would make sure

the idea of talking about childbirth and exact wording is OK with the teacher so I asked her.  Her reply, after 

consultation with the school administration, was 2nd graders are too young to give a talk about childbirth, so

skip that topic and only talk about mother and baby care/help.  


I understood that childbirth can be a sensitive issue for some families so I agreed with it.  Then the day before the

talk, the teacher contacted me again, saying that "after further review from administration, it has been

decided that 2nd graders may be too young to hear about doula responsibilities and more so that birthing and infant and

mother care is a topic that we mush allow parents to present to their children when they feel it is appropriate."


I was not going to say any one way of birth or infant care is better than others, or even say that there are many ways.

I just wanted to tell the students that helping mothers are UNIVERSALLY important and anyone who cares about the

mother and baby are able to do it.  Is this inappropriate for 2nd graders or for any students?  Or am I missing the whole

point of discussion?


The teachre said if I have questions to the decision, I would contact school principal or counselor, which I will.

But I just want to know if this (not to talk about doula) is a norm in any public school or if anyone had experienced similar happenings.



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#2 of 17 Old 01-21-2013, 09:44 PM
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That's pretty upsetting.  What if you were just a L&D nurse?  Or a NICU nurse?  What about an obstetrician? 


Would they have excluded you then? 


I think they need to provide you with criteria for exclusion that they use fairly across the board.  How is the decision made and how is it made fairly?  What other professions are excluded? 


I would also try to understand what they are afraid of.  They are afraid they will get in trouble with other parents?  You could say a very innocent thing that a child repeats in an altered way at home--nothing like what you really said--and then suddenly a parent is horrified and calling the principal... It might even have happened before in a slightly different scenario.  This subject could really get imaginations going.  You could get some extremely awkward questions from the group that you'd find difficult to answer. 


It seems that you could talk about the work of a doula without being either graphic or political in that setting.  I do not know what you mean about helping being universally important and anyone who cares can do it... I thought you would mostly describe what you do, and that does sound a little like an agenda.  That may not be their issue, though.  

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#3 of 17 Old 01-23-2013, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks littlest birds.  Yes, after further talk with administration, it seems that they were afraid that when questions go to home,

that could cause trouble.  And yes, I totally agree with you to talk about doula profession without being graphic or political.


I will keep trying to make that clear to the school side.

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#4 of 17 Old 01-23-2013, 12:16 PM
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Wow, I think they are way out of line. And ultimately it is very sexist that talking about childbirth and mothering is controversial in any way. I can't think of any jobs that men typically do that would be excluded, even if those jobs involve violence (I remember having members of the military and police come in and talk to us more than once in elementary school). And somehow that is more acceptable? Puh-leeze. If parents are upset that you are going to ruin the whole stork-delivering-babies lie they were telling their kids, then that is their problem. 

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#5 of 17 Old 01-23-2013, 12:42 PM
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That's completely ridiculous. You weren't asking to go in and show videos of a vaginal birth or anything else, their knee jerk reaction is completely out of line. As PP said, a doula's work is not inherently political or graphic (our doula wasn't at DS' birth, but still provided significant support as a doula ante and post partum), and therefore should not be inappropriate to explain. I'm sorry you're enduring what really amounts to an insult, and think you ought to absolutely pursue it.

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#6 of 17 Old 01-23-2013, 06:17 PM
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this is so upsetting :(


I live in HTX and am really curious about which school this is.


HISD has such a stick up the you-know-where sometimes.  I am really disappointed in their decision making here and would encourage you to delve deeper into it with them.  

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#7 of 17 Old 01-24-2013, 02:12 PM
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This is so sad and so upsetting. Why can't we normalize birth for our children?

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#8 of 17 Old 01-29-2013, 10:47 AM
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That would upset me also. I agree with the poster who stated "What if you were an obstetrician, or an NICU nurse?"

Keep us updated if there are any further developments...I don't really know how to help the situation, only can add my lamentations.

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#9 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 10:22 AM
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That is absolutely crazy that the fear stemming from the ignorance of the administration would selfishly block the learning of innocent children. It's not like you were going to go in there with diagrams of how babies are made and how they come out.


Mommies need lots of help when it is time to have their baby and they need to feel extra love while they are doing it. Women that have studied birth know how much love a mommy needs and can help her when it is time.


Ooh, that's a tough one to understand...


Yup, breathing is SO controversial...


Was this HISD or an outside ISD? I'm in Cy-Fair so I've been considering volunteering for things like this when my kiddos have them.

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#10 of 17 Old 01-30-2013, 10:29 AM
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I think that's sad.  I'm sure you would make a very child-friendly and respectful presentation.


I would push them a bit on this one.  As silly as it sounds, this may be a great exposure for some young kids to this whole idea of a doula.  Obviously they aren't in the shoes of needing one but they will know what the profession is like.  Isn't that the point of career day??!?

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#11 of 17 Old 02-24-2013, 12:02 PM
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Just WOW,  I have been doing career day at my daughters' elementary school for 3 years and the teachers are always excited to have me back. I usually define what a doula is ie, a woman who helps moms when they have babies. Then i walk them through a guided realxation exercise and tell them that this is a wonderful way to prepare for a test or if they need a shot or when they are at the dentist. I usually will leave them a treatas well either a honey stick or lifesavers and explain how they are used to keep mom's mouth moist when she has been deep breathing and to help keep her energy up because having a baby is a lot of work.

And what is wrong with children going home with questions about what they leraned in school? 

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#12 of 17 Old 03-11-2013, 05:33 PM
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WOW... as a mom, I would absolutely be ok (and excited) to have a doula speak at my kids' school. Yes, they might ask questions, but it is the duty of the parent to answer any follow-up questions our kids may have. If they're curious about ANYTHING, I'm going to explain it in a way that is appropriate for their age group, whether the subject is birth-related or not.

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#13 of 17 Old 03-19-2013, 05:02 PM
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Oh, yuck.  I used to be a writing teacher and one little girl said to me, "I want to be an obstetrician when I grow up, because I want to be the person who cuts the babies out of their mommys' stomachs."  :(


Having a doula at career day might present a nice alternative to that assumption.  Sorry you had that experience. 

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#14 of 17 Old 04-30-2013, 09:39 AM
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I used to live in Houston, and taught in the Pasadena SD. I have to say, I do think your experience is because of where you are. And I think people are afraid that if you talk about childbirth, children will ask about sex. And we wouldn't want them to learn anything, of course.


I have heard of similar reactions regarding breastfeeding... I think that our culture is so highly sexualized that people don't even know how to think about birth & breastfeeding as normal mammalian behaviors. It's very disturbing, isn't it?


So sorry this happened to you. I had a very weird experience teaching in TX!

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#15 of 17 Old 04-30-2013, 10:02 AM
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If I were the teacher, I'd send a note home to all the parents and ask if any object to their child meeting a doula or hearing about childbirth. 


I'm an atheist and have no objections to my child learning anything at any age (unless we start venturing into fetishes or things that aren't necessary for him to know about yet) but I respect that other people may not yet have enlightened their children about certain topics and would like to be notified when these things come up in school. 


That said, if I got a note like that sent home, I'd have to follow-up and make sure there won't be any horrifying details divulged about pregnancy/childbirth that women only find out about when it's too late! lol

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#16 of 17 Old 05-02-2013, 12:25 AM
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Aiyiyi. Realize this is an old thread, but, ugh! I would definitely have wanted to ask them about barring nurses and OBs from presentations, as well. There is so much that can be said without being in any way graphic or judgmental.

HeatherB ~ mama to 3 wonderful boys:  reading.gif 03/02; modifiedartist.gif09/04; sleepytime.gif 09/07 - and Eliana, babygirl.gif 11/13/10!  
Founder of Houston Birth Alternatives: Be Informed, Encouraged, Supported birth support group and aspiring midwife.

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#17 of 17 Old 05-02-2013, 01:17 AM
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I'm a midwife and I'll be speaking at our kids' charter school's career day next week :)


I'm thinking about what to say in the presentation so as not to inadvertently offend any parents. I think I'm going to take my prenatal visit bag with me and talk through what I do at a visit and then say that I go to mom's homes for their births.

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