Texting ≠ Nuance

I’ve been working on my texting skills lately. Some of my clients rely on texting often in their daily lives. They feel the doula-mom relationship should also involve texting for fast communication. I agree, but there are some limits that I am discovering. It’s difficult to have a meaningful dialog while texting. When a mom asks my opinion about some birth- or breastfeeding-related idea, I usually feel there are several options for a particular situation. Normally, I would offer them all to her. They don’t often fit into a short burst of information. More importantly, while we’re talking on the phone, I can hear not only the words of her response but the tone of it. “Ugh” doesn’t translate well into a text. She could possibly type “ugh,” but did she mean a strong “ugh,” a weak “ugh” or an in-between “ugh”?

This is even more important when I”m trying to answer the question “What should I do now?” I can offer a triage of solutions using a dialog and her voice as my guide. When she’s calling to ask if I think she’s in labor, I rely on listening to her breathing, her voice and her silence to help me decide where she is. If she texts me information like “I’m having contractions,” she’s giving me her opinion, but she isn’t getting the benefit of my experience. My experience is part of why she hired me.

A doula-mom relationship should be built using several kinds of communication, but shouldn’t rely too heavily on one. Emailing and texting shouldn’t take the place of phone conversations and private meetings. What I’ve discovered is that texting ≠ nuance. Every relationship is full of nuance. I need that nuance to make the woman-to-woman connection we need so that I can support this new mother.