Here is the article.  Here is my response.

This is really a shame that this mom had a negative experiences with her doula.  My role as a doula is to support the mom in whatever SHE wants.  This isn’t MY birth, it is HERS!  I would NEVER leave a mother during her birthing time, no matter what she chooses, she still needs support. 

I think it is important for moms to talk to a doula about their flexibility before hiring them.  I think most doulas are up front about their limitations… for instance the doula in the article who won’t take moms who are planning epidurals.  Good to know as a mom hiring her.  If you are even a little on the fence about getting medication, then choose a different doula!  Also if you hire a doula like that, make sure you ask, what if I change my mind!?

Personally, I tend to only work with moms who take my Hypnobabies class.  This is mostly because I only take 1 or 2 clients a month and in each class I teach I have some  students wanting to hire me, so I save my spots for them.  It works great; we already have a relationship from class, I know they are educated about the different interventions typical in a hospital; they understand normal birth and they have great tools for staying relaxed and comfortable during birth.  But I am totally open for them getting interventions, if they make an informed choice during the birth.  It is interventions done out of routine, rather than medical need, that parents tend to be concerned about. 

Honestly I was sad to see that a hospital has banned doulas.  I would be very hesitant to birth in a hospital like that, “From a nursing standpoint, too many crossed a line and interfered with my job,” is the comment from the article.  Well what were these doulas doing… supporting their clients rights to move around, make choices, say no to interventions, etc?  I don’t know, so I can’t really comment on it.  But I would be interested to learn more what these doulas were “doing”. 

During a birth I am not focused on what the nurses and doctors think, though as doulas we need to walk that line carefully.  I am there for the mom, not the staff.  I have only had one negative interaction with a nurse.  I could have done things differently in that instance and will in the future.  But she was scaring my VBAC mom needlessly and my protection instincts flared up.  I am fine with staff talking and informing my clients about hospital routines, but you don’t need to do it in a threatening, scary way

In conclusion, hire your doula carefully.  Pick a doula that is flexible!   I am open to my clients having whatever birth is best for THEM.  Most of my clients plan on going without medication, but this may change during the birth, depending on the circumstances.  I will support them in whatever they choose and I tell them that from the beginning of our relationship.     

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  1. It makes me sad that (like many other professions) doulas only make the news when someone is unhappy.

    I’m also shocked that this doula would just walk out like that! Wow! Even if I had a client who went beyond what I was accustomed to supporting, I would never just abandon them like that. I can’t even imagine that.

    I hope that the mom in the article will try having a doula again in the future and, like you said, spend a little more time choosing someone who is more compatible with her birthing (and backup!) plans.

  2. Moms have a responsibility to interview and select the right doula for them just like they should be interviewing their obstetrician. There was obviously a difference in expectations from both sides and it’s a shame that this was discovered in labour rather than before.

    Even a mum with an epidural needs reassurance and emotional support and reminding that her baby is coming.

  3. Sadly several hospitals in that area do not allow for the doula to stay in the room for the epidural. So during a very difficult time when a mom is changing her plan the doula is required to leave. Now, they are able to come back in the room after the epidural is placed, and continue to support their clients. It defiantly puts the doula in a difficult position.
    It was not clear in the article that doula left and did not come back, after the epidural was placed, so I would withhold judgment against the doula, without that piece of information.

  4. I haven’t read the NYT article, but I think you make very good points in your post. I too wonder what the doulas “did” to get banned from that hospital. Some practitioners are so routined, that breaks in their routines are perceived as threats and breaches. On the other hand, I don’t think doulas should be put or place themselves into aggressive situations with hospital practitioners, mostly because as you said, it’s not their birth! On the other hand, some women probably won’t have many people around who can stand up against routine intervention. Eeek!

  5. I think this article shows that doulas are making the medical community scared. We are witnesses to all sorts of nonsense from the doctor who told my client that episiotomies heal better than tears to the one who told my client her baby was too big to fit and gave her a c-section (the mom was only about six centimeters along, baby came out and was 7 lbs.) You know these stories, they happen all the time, and doulas everwhere have dealt with them. When doulas are kicked out uniformally from a hospital, I think it’s a sign that the hospital would like to do what they want without anyone questioning them.

    It is true that the occassional doula is too agressive and we should train people to know how to deal with staff with diplomacy, but I worry more about the doulas that don’t speak up for their clients.

    It is sad to have such a prominent article bashing doulas. It’s all just anectdotal, though. I noticed how they didn’t reference all the clear research that supports a doula’s role at birth.

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