Do you think doctors and nurses are truly aware of the benefits of doulas? I think that if we could educate them more, they maybe be more welcoming. I get the feelings of hostilty from hospital situations. Sometimes are feel our community may feel the the OBs and nurses are the enemy so isn't there something to be said for keeping the enemy closer.
Any opinions?
Lisa

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Replies to This Discussion

I think the problem(for some) is that they know exactly what the role of a doula is. Why do you think most OB's have their patients end up with c-sections? It's not about the natural order of birth, it's not about helping the patient have the birth she wants, it's about going on the cruise, or making it to a golf game, or some other lame excuse.
They are hostile because we are screwing up their jobs, we are messing with their time, they aren't in control anymore and they don't like it at all.
I really don't think of the hospital staff and doctors as enemies. I feel they do the best they can, based on their knowledge and experience and their scope of practice. I'm reading Your Best Birth, and I just read a section about OB's and a section about midwives. It's interesting, because it explains the kind of training that they get and how different they are. Doctors are trained to handle high-risk situations, and tend to treat every pregnancy and birth as a disaster waiting to happen. I think it helps me be a better doula when I can understand what kind of background the hospital staff and doctors are coming from. I do think education could help both sides; the natural side and the medical side, but I'm not sure how it would be best to attempt that.

Let's also remember our scope of practice as a doula is to support the expectant parents in the birth that they want. We need to be open to support a mother in her birth wishes, whatever they may be. That includes elective c-section, epidural, vaginal, completely un-medicated birth, etc. I have to put my personal feelings aside when I assist in a birth.
I think it's a dangerous idea to think this way, whether it's true or not. It creates resentment for which there is no salve.

Darcel said:
I think the problem(for some) is that they know exactly what the role of a doula is. Why do you think most OB's have their patients end up with c-sections? It's not about the natural order of birth, it's not about helping the patient have the birth she wants, it's about going on the cruise, or making it to a golf game, or some other lame excuse.
They are hostile because we are screwing up their jobs, we are messing with their time, they aren't in control anymore and they don't like it at all.
I am entitled to my opinion. We have all had different experiences and mine were not good with hospitals. There are tons of women on this site who were not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
I only speak the truth and that can be hard for some to take.

Jennifer L. Hensley said:
I think it's a dangerous idea to think this way, whether it's true or not. It creates resentment for which there is no salve.

Darcel said:
I think the problem(for some) is that they know exactly what the role of a doula is. Why do you think most OB's have their patients end up with c-sections? It's not about the natural order of birth, it's not about helping the patient have the birth she wants, it's about going on the cruise, or making it to a golf game, or some other lame excuse.
They are hostile because we are screwing up their jobs, we are messing with their time, they aren't in control anymore and they don't like it at all.
Darcel I can understand how you feel. When you care about women it is difficult to see their best interest laid aside at times.

I also think that discussion boards like this are also vehicles to vent the frustration that we feel "witnessing" things that are not in the best interest of our clients. Venting is healthy in my opinion and better done here than anywhere else.

It is hard to be disregarded by hospital staff and even harder to watch it happen to women. I am confident that you serve your clients with compassion and diplomacy in the birthing room.
I think that referring to hospital medical staff as the "enemy", is counter productive. As doulas most, if not all of us, have had negative feelings toward hospital staff. I do think that doulas have gotten an unfair label put on them as meddling, agenda driven fanatics. As with anything society would dub "crazy", the minority has tainted it for the majority who only wish to support the mother in her pursuits of a "perfect" birth.

To carry an attitude that doctors and nurses are the enemy, the very people you are trying to persuade, doesn't do anyone any good. There will always be nurses that feel somewhat "threatened" by our presence and doctors that will be annoyed with us, but our feelings (negative or positive) will radiate into our attitudes. We aren't there to prove a point, and if we are, we are there for the wrong reasons. We are there to help women bring life into this world and support her in her desires. It is a fine balance of being supportive and not looking like the bad guy when things don't go the way the doctors and nurses want them to go. Human nature is to look for the scape goat, and often times, it can be the doula that carries that badge. And I say, thank G-d it is me the doctors and nurses blame, because it would be a million times worse for a new mother to have to deal with that.

I do think that the more people are educated, in general, the better it is for everyone! However, I don't think you are going to teach doctors and nurses anything if you go into it with an attitude that they are the enemy, you'll wind up being disappointed. Before every birth you do, remind yourself about who you are there for. Is it yourself and your agenda, or is it for the mother that is looking to you for support during the most vulnerable and life changing times of her life?

Mandy
I have to agree with Mandy. I have seen bad things as well but I am there for my client and to put out confident calming energy. I have to believe that education would help those doctors who aren't " the enemy" to understand what we can bring to their patients. I think that many OBs really believe they are doing the best for their patients. I don't think it they are all as harsh as Darcel seems to think. There are many factors for them as well.
I am thinking that a presentation to local OBs may show them things they did not really think about in regards to doulas or natural birth. I mean they are graduating these new OB without ever even having seen a natural birth. Am I being crazy to think I can change the mindset?

Lisa
Lisa,
I think it is possible to help bring about an awareness of what a doula's role is, but only to an audience that is willing to hear it with an open mind. Many of these OB's are very set in the way things are done, and don't seem to have time to sit down and learn about something they could really care less about. Our job isn't to try to change the way doctors view us... We have to stay focused on what our role truly is. The more experiences hospitals have with us doing our job, without trying to push some kind of agenda, the more they will become more tolerant of what we do. I would suggest that if you truly feel that much hostility from your hospitals and their staff, try working only with midwives who understand the importance of what you are doing for your clients. If you are able to gain an audience with MD's and RN's, let us know how it works out!

Mandy

Lisa Inglese said:
I have to agree with Mandy. I have seen bad things as well but I am there for my client and to put out confident calming energy. I have to believe that education would help those doctors who aren't " the enemy" to understand what we can bring to their patients. I think that many OBs really believe they are doing the best for their patients. I don't think it they are all as harsh as Darcel seems to think. There are many factors for them as well.
I am thinking that a presentation to local OBs may show them things they did not really think about in regards to doulas or natural birth. I mean they are graduating these new OB without ever even having seen a natural birth. Am I being crazy to think I can change the mindset?

Lisa
I know there are doulas who will not work in hospitals and I think that is unfair to women. I think if we want to make a difference, we need to be there no matter where they want to birth. I personally do not care about the hostility that I recieve. I know what my role is as a doula, but I also live in a place where doulas have been in hospitals for a long time and where we have midwives in hospitals and yet we have the one of the highest c-section rates in the country. I am just struggling with a way to create a little more peace on both sides of the fence.
I get what you are saying and I admire your desire to bring about change. Let me know about any progress you are able to make!

Lisa Inglese said:
I know there are doulas who will not work in hospitals and I think that is unfair to women. I think if we want to make a difference, we need to be there no matter where they want to birth. I personally do not care about the hostility that I recieve. I know what my role is as a doula, but I also live in a place where doulas have been in hospitals for a long time and where we have midwives in hospitals and yet we have the one of the highest c-section rates in the country. I am just struggling with a way to create a little more peace on both sides of the fence.
I have mixed feelings on this subject. As someone who works with a VERY diverse clientele I unfortunately have seen the drastic difference in how Dr.'s and Nurses treat women of color vs. other women in the very same situation and women who they perceive to be "educated" and well-off, vs. those who they perceive as uneducated and poor. The treatment of women can be like night and day. I have seen Dr.'s do things to women's bodies without saying a word to them about what they were doing to THEIR bodies! I don't think that we can take anyone's personal experience away from them just because it has not been our own. Darcel might have not minced her words-but we don't know her experience. I have had some horrifying, frightful experiences with Dr.'s/Nurses but I have also had some wonderful caring experiences as well. I agree that we can't go into a hospital looking for a fight because that just sets up bad energy from the beginning..it also doesn't mean that we shouldn't be advocates for our clients when they are being maltreated. It's a fine line to walk without stepping on toes and I do respect the fact that the hospital perception is that they are responsible for the mother's life and the baby's life. But I think only by setting a good example will hospital staff begin to be more open to doulas on a nationwide level.

And that is just my 2 pennies. :)
Muneera,
Thank you for bringing up the point you have. I haven't seen it as it pertains to race, but I have seen and experienced it, pertaining to age. I was a teen mom and was treated like I was stupid when I had my daughter 15 years ago. I work predominantly with teen mom's who encounter the same types of attitudes. There have even been nurses that have the audacity say that young girls get what they deserve for getting pregnant so young, when referring to their pain during labor. I totally agree that the only way things will change is for us to go into every birth and be a shining example of what a doula is! You are very right, it is a very fine line in regards to being an advocate without stepping over any boundaries... If we, as doulas, can master walking that line, it would change the way the greater community views doulas!

Thanks for your 2 pennies! ;o)

Mandy

Muneera Fontaine said:
I have mixed feelings on this subject. As someone who works with a VERY diverse clientele I unfortunately have seen the drastic difference in how Dr.'s and Nurses treat women of color vs. other women in the very same situation and women who they perceive to be "educated" and well-off, vs. those who they perceive as uneducated and poor. The treatment of women can be like night and day. I have seen Dr.'s do things to women's bodies without saying a word to them about what they were doing to THEIR bodies! I don't think that we can take anyone's personal experience away from them just because it has not been our own. Darcel might have not minced her words-but we don't know her experience. I have had some horrifying, frightful experiences with Dr.'s/Nurses but I have also had some wonderful caring experiences as well. I agree that we can't go into a hospital looking for a fight because that just sets up bad energy from the beginning..it also doesn't mean that we shouldn't be advocates for our clients when they are being maltreated. It's a fine line to walk without stepping on toes and I do respect the fact that the hospital perception is that they are responsible for the mother's life and the baby's life. But I think only by setting a good example will hospital staff begin to be more open to doulas on a nationwide level.

And that is just my 2 pennies. :)

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