For so many of us and the families we serve, social media is part of the daily fabric of our lives. We use it to market our services, stay in touch, gain information, and obtain support.  Social media can be a powerful tool for a successful doula. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. are like any tool; however, when used incorrectly or without the proper “safety” procedures, things can go wrong in a hurry. Here is the first in our two part series on important considerations for doulas using social media for personal or professional purposes.

Confidentiality:  Our clients allow us in to the most intimate experiences of their lives. Even seemingly innocent posts or comments where the client isn’t identified such as “If at first the baby doesn’t latch, try, try again! 20th time is the charm apparently!” could be seen as embarrassing for a new mother. She may not want her sister’s co-worker (who also happens to be your Facebook friend) to know that she struggled to initiate breastfeeding. It won’t take long for this to get back to your client when her sister shares with co-workers that she is now a proud aunt and that her sister had a doula with your first name.  Ask yourself if your client would want what your post attributed to her birth or postpartum experience shared with her family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and care providers. If you aren’t sure, it’s probably best not to post it.  Discuss social media during prenatal visits with the client family, particularly if you use it a great deal to market your services.  Are they comfortable with generic posts where you indicate you have been called to support a family? Consider whether your social circles overlap and this type of post may inadvertently share news the client would rather keep quiet. Be sure to discuss the reverse as well – if you’d like them to mention you or tag you in photos and if you prefer they use your professional account/page over a personal one.

One doula represents us all:  Those of us who have been in the doula field for a while know that it only takes one incident, conversation, or comment (usually taken out of context) to create ripple effects, which impact the entire doula community.  Posts that express frustration with care providers and birth facilities, even in general terms, can undermine the doula profession as qualified and recognized partners in the care and support of birthing and postpartum families.  Social media posts that are little more than vents about lack of sleep, client family dynamics, hospital protocols, and the like can place doulas as a group in a negative light.  We all need to vent at times and support is a key ingredient to balance and wellness. Seek support outside of social media circles with trusted colleagues, friends, or family when you need it.  Practicing self-care is important for a healthy doula!

Check The DONA Doula Chronicles soon for Part 2 in this series on social media.  In the meantime, share this article with doulas in your circle and let us know if you have any ideas for future posts by dropping us a line at blog@dona.org.

Happy (careful) posting!

          Adrianne Gordon, CD(DONA)

Sources:

DONA International Code of Ethics – Birth Doulas: http://www.dona.org/PDF/Code%20of%20Ethics_Birth.pdf

DONA International Code of Ethics – Postpartum Doulas: http://www.dona.org/PDF/Code%20of%20Ethics_PP_5-08.pdf