Opportunities to Learn
Almost two weeks ago I attended a movie screening of “The VBAC Dilemma” at Nativiti Birth Center. I always love the opportunity to get together with seasoned doulas because I always learn so much from them, and that day was no exception.
The movie was good but what I left with was new knowledge about how to help my clients in a hospital setting. I’ve heard several times from different birth advocates that a doula’s work is more important in a hospital than a birth center, and while I have mixed feelings about that statement, I understand the sentiment. In a hospital setting, you never know what you’re going to get! Two mothers, both wanting a med-free childbirth and sharing the same OB, might have completely different experiences only because of the nursing staff who happens to be working during the time a laboring mother is admitted. It’s impossible to know which kind of nurse you’ll have!
At Nativiti that day, I learned from experienced doulas how to encourage the nursing staff to help a mother achieve her goals, and how to win them over with kindness. I’m not talking about bribing or manipulating nurses, but how to give a genuine appreciation for the work they do and how to ask them to help a mother achieve her birthing aspirations. This really touched my heart because I am not a confrontational person. I believe very strongly about many things and am not easily manipulated, but I am a very empathetic person and a people-pleaser.
I have counseled my clients before that if they are uncomfortable or displeased for any reason, they have the right to request a new nurse, but that has always seemed so confrontational to me. After hearing these more-experienced doulas give their testimonials, I have reworked my approach to this. I used to feel on the defense for my clients, and while I am still very protective of “my moms,” I feel more strongly now about approaching the situation with a more positive outlook. That we’re all on the same team! Yes, some people play by different rules, and if a circumstance arises then we must be protective of what a mother holds sacred for her birth, but there’s also no need to always expect a fight.
Please don’t get me wrong; when I am hired for a client I am there for her unconditionally. I am there to be the support she hired me to be, and in most instances that means physically and emotionally. I am also there to help her feel safe, to feel secure, and to feel cared for, and this might mean smoothing things over with a misinformed but well-intentioned or a even grumpy nurse. Every situation is unique, and the best way to be prepared is to have a plan!
I hope to be able to impart some of my new knowledge on my clients so that I can help them feel comfortable in the delivery room… Comfortable enough to reach inside of themselves to find the strength to trust their bodies and birth their babies without hesitation. I also look forward to the day when I am one of those seasoned doulas… Hundreds of births behind me, imparting my knowledge on the future generation of doulas.