Language, why does it matter?

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So I wanted to talk about language.  Doulas, this one is for you.

Why does the language we use matter?

The medical community frequently boils individuals down to their disease, condition or diagnosis on a regular basis.

The kidney stone in curtain 3. Or the hysterectomy in 5. Or the uterine rupture in OR1.

Most often medicine focuses on the condition, not the person. Not the individual, not his or her personal/emotional history, not where they are in their life, pays no mind to past traumas, doesn’t take time to understand their hopes, dreams and fears.

As doulas we are not medical.

While it behooves us to be aware of the medical terminology so we can explain things to the client.

It is imperative that WE focus on the individual. The human in front of us.

At times we may be the only person who sees the client as a person with a heart and a face and not the vagina, cervix or uterus that is housed within. We see the soul of the ‘vessel‘ if you will.

THIS is why language is so important.

There is a long history of misogyny and patriarchy in medicine, especially obstetrics.

As doulas we advertise that we focus on the person, not their condition.

When we boil them down to the condition (cesarean) we take away their humanity and we risk losing sight of the person, the very real person who has trusted us with their emotional well being. They look to us for support and encouragement, they need us to see beyond their condition and support the soul that is longing to be heard inside.

Medicine teaches to disconnect from the person and focus on the condition or pathology.

We are not medical. We can do better. We should do better.

Our language should focus on inclusion, not inclusion of us into the medical system by proving to them that we can speak their language. There are other ways to earn respect and esteem there.

Inclusion and acceptance of our clients and their experiences as the norm.

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