When an Interpreter Meets a Doula....
In this post, Persis shares an experience where she was working as a Doula during labor and delivery and the confusion that occurred when the interpreter there realized that Persis was a certified interpreter. To learn more about doulas, see the Birth Companions CD-ROM (which is now online.)
English translation by Doug Bowen-Bailey
This is an experience I had when I was working as a doula with an interpreter. What happened was that when the interpreter arrived, saw that I was there, and realized that I was a certified interpreter, she thought her work would be easy because she could just sit back and let me take over the interpreting responsibilities. But the interpreter did not realize that my role as a doula was separate from being an interpreter and I couldn't afford to confuse the two.
So, when the doctor came in, the patient looked to the interpreter to see what was being said, which is where I looked as well. However, the interpreter looked at me to start interpreting and the doctor looked at all of us in confusion as to who was supposed to be doing what.
The doctor finally went ahead and started speaking, and after realizing I wasn't going to do it, the interpreter finally started interpreting for the doctor. This interpreter thought that because I was a certified interpreter, I would take on that role, but didn't realize that my role was really separate. The interpreter's work is to convey the message back and forth. My role as a doula is to expand on that message with further explanations and encouragement and to make sure that the mother fully understands her role as a mother, and how it affects labor, her body, and the baby.
The interpreter really has a much simpler role, taking the meaning of the message from the doctor and conveying it to the patient. Getting the meaning, the intent, the goal behind the communication. Which really is quite a lot of work.
My role as a doula is to expand on that communication. So, it was an interesting experience I had with the interpreter who thought I could take on both jobs at the same time.