Why I love to support childbearing women but hate being a doula

Childbirth is my passion. I talk about it every chance I get, to anyone who will listen. If no one will listen, I will talk to myself about birth.

So why would a lover of birth not take every opportunity to witness this miracle of life? Simple. I believe that every mother should be given the time, space, comfort, privacy and company she needs to have a physiologically normal birth. In my short doula career it quickly became apparent that birth is tinkered with in many out of home settings. This is where doulas are needed most. When a mother wants her birth and labor left alone she has to arm herself with a birth plan and a doula. Even that could put a target on her back as a ruthless and selfish “patient”. When she wants nature over intervention she is questioned, lectured and sometimes even threatened about her and her babies safety. All while she is working with her body to expel a human into the world. Mothers are violated in ways that out of a hospital would be completely inappropriate and maybe even criminal. In no other setting would a woman be drugged so she doesn’t feel anything, hooked to an IV, and then penetrated multiple times by strangers all disguised as saving both mom and baby’s life.

Birth happens differently when no one is managing the mother. When she is able to do what she wants, when she wants, and with whom she wants without having to ask permission or be questioned from her birth attendants, birth will happen most often uneventfully.

Doulas who attend moms who choose hospital birth are left to mediate between hospital policy, doctor and nurse practices, and parent wishes. All of these variables rarely line up in perfect harmony. Mothers are found negotiating one hospital policy in order for their other wishes to be granted. Doulas are stuck on a this line of teaching parents their options and staying professional in a hospital where doctors and nurses are in charge. Mothers are encouraged to give over all control and if they don’t they are labeled as bad parents.

I am officially taking off my doula hat. Even though I think that moms who choose or need a hospital birth should have a doula. Other women here in the Manhattan, KS area are better able to negotiate out of home birth settings for new moms who need a doula. For now I am going to study midwifery, encapsulate placentas, and work on my childbirth education series.

If an expecting mom has any questions or just want to talk about birth (my favorite subject) I would chat for hours. After all, I do love moms, babies, and BIRTH.

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3 responses to “Why I love to support childbearing women but hate being a doula”

  1. mindyminix says :

    It has to be very frustrating to watch these women in a hospital setting when you know what an intervention-free birth can be. I find that most of the mothers or mothers-to-be that I speak with really aren’t overly interested in a completely natural birth, either. I’m not sure how you would do your job if the mother isn’t committed to a natural birth. Kudos to you!

    I will be birthing my son in a hospital, but I am equipped with knowledge and a strong sense of self and willingness to advocate until the last moment and beyond. My obstetrician has been supportive of everything I have stated as my birth preferences so now we just go in and work for the best outcome.

    • autumnjstarnes says :

      It is heart breaking for me to watch mothers pressured into things that they don’t want. It is easier as a doula in a hospital with a mom who does want all of the hospital rituals to take place during their births. That is because as a doula I don’t have to feel like the mothers space is being constantly intruded upon for hospital administrators to be satisfied.

      I wish you luck on your birth. I hope that you have found a perfect doula for you. Even with the best doctor in town you will be laboring with the nurses. I always strongly recommend having your doctor sign your birth plan. Nurses don’t want to go against your wishes, but they also don’t want to get on a doctors bad side. Just remember that you will only be there for a day. They have to work together for the long term.

      • mindyminix says :

        I didn’t even think of it like that. I just assumed it would be harder to watch women choose a path full of interventions. I can see your point, for sure.

        Thank you. I have not found a doula in my area that is affordable, and obviously this isn’t something my insurance will cover. Last time, with my daughter, the nurses were entirely too busy to pay much attention to me. I had just assumed it would be similar this time. I didn’t really think about having to contend with nurses if my doctor is on board with my plans. Thank you, I wouldn’t have really thought about this too much. Do you suggest I ask for a natural-birth friendly nurse when I get to the hospital? The current plan, barring any complications, is to labor at home for as long as possible.

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