Radical Doulas

One of "my" doulas was at a clinic the other day and she met a resident who apparently had worked with me in a hospital birthing room some months ago. The resident made two comments about me: "Rivka doesn't like me because I'm a man". And "she concentrates on the woman - we are just there as technicians to catch the baby".

Funny, I like men generally. I wonder if he could think a little deeper about why I may have given him the cold shoulder. Was he treating my client with disrespect? Was he reading the situation closely? Did he have the woman's best interests at heart? Was he acting according to protocol, to science, or to "ghost protocols" (those ones that get left over at hospitals because they are too hard to change)? Was he working from his heart? Did he ask my client to lie down when she was pushing perfectly well in a squat? Was he scared?

And "she concentrates on  the woman". Well, hello, that is what a doula is supposed to do. We are not there to make friends with the medical staff. I have very cordial relations with many of the nurses and physicians I work with. But I do not go into a hospital to make friends. I go into a hospital to provide my client with a safe place to give birth. That means that I make every effort to create a peaceful environment in which the woman can let go and do her work of birthing. I don't have to joke and laugh with residents. I can quietly whisper to the woman so that she is feeling good. I'm not interested in staring at her vulva as it opens. I've seen it lots of times, it is doing perfectly well, and there is no medical need for me to do so.

If a woman is undergoing an intervention that I do not approve of, then I will definitely put my back to the staff and direct all my love and attention to the woman. Women DO undergo unnecessary interventions in the hospital, far too often. I am not talking about women who go into the hospital with a clear plan to be induced, have an epidural, and be happy. I am talking about the HUGE number of women who actually believe they can give birth naturally in the hospital environment.

These women are often treated badly by under-experienced residents.  If a woman has a small leak of amniotic fluid, that's no reason to admit her to the hospital two weeks before her EDD and then break her waters twelve hours later to stimulate labor. If a woman is happily pushing in a supported squat, there is no reason why she should lie down just because the doctor hasn't caught a baby that way. If I see a resident reaching for the amnihook, with his hand in a woman's body, I will say something. That something might be said in a gentle voice, but it probably won't be friendly. And the woman on the bed will appreciate my interference. I am not against a justified AROM. But you never insert something in a woman's vagina without telling her what you're planning on doing.
Do you?

Radical doulas, we need to stand up and speak out. Women are being treated badly in our hospitals and I am ready to take a stand.

I am taking notes of occasions where my clients have been abused during labor and childbirth. Please start to take notes too and we will start to create a manifesto.

Power to the birthing woman!


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