In the last ten days, I have had over ten requests from women who desperately need maternity care. I can only provide them with free doula care, from the volunteers who donate their time to Montreal Birth Companions. Some of these volunteers are students, some are experienced doulas. But doulas don't provide medical care, and most of these women have not had prenatal care, so they are at risk for worse outcomes than the generally healthy population of our fair city.
I was called at 2:30 in the morning last week by a doula, frantic with worry. She had been called by one of our clients who was bleeding heavily. I told the doula to call 911 immediately. She did so and mother and baby survived.
Several times over the past week I have been juggling available doulas to accompany one of the MBC mothers who was laboring and needed companionship. Doulas are people too, some are on vacation, some are pregnant, most have other jobs.
I assisted at a birth where the midwives were unable to provide the mother with effective care postpartum. I was at another birth with a baby who became ill after birth. I got another call from a doula whose client was bleeding after giving birth, and the midwives had not made it to the house on time.
I have had several requests over the past few weeks from mothers who cannot find a midwife, who don't want to birth in the hospital, who are looking for an unregistered midwife. Unregistered, underground, or illegal midwives work without any medical backup and if they need to transfer their clients to the hospital, have no standing with the medical staff and are treated either as doulas or as "friends". Unregistered midwives often make calls that are not as effective as they could be - they work on a basis of mutual respect which sometimes can mean taking risks that may be dangerous and unprofessional.
I am seeing the writing on the wall, and it is telling me that we are not taking care of our mothers and babies. I can't always be there to answer the phone when a mother is in need, or a doula, (and rightly so) cannot provide medical care when there is no doctor.
Something must be done! Se non ora, quando?