Pyrrhic Victory

Last night I attended my last birth for a long time, unless one of my special people asks me over to attend her birth - and you know who you are my loves!

I was working in my capacity as a doula - to my utmost capacity - I calmly stood by while the staff dickered around about whether the meconium was thick or light. I kept a grin off my face when the young medical student estimated that the birthing woman, who was clearly very close to pushing, was "progressing nicely" at six centimeters, and I kept calm when five minutes later she started pushing in earnest. I kept the worried look off my face when it appeared that there might be an abruption, and I supported the nurse while she tried to do her job.

I supported the woman, I supported her husband and her mother. I kept my face devoid of grumpy callouts when staff acted unprofessionally. I pandered to the two young doctors, and praised the Big Doctor Man when my client asked me, in front of him, if he was "good". In short, I brown-nosed the way doulas learn to do in our maternity care system.

The doula's job is to support the birthing family, to bring love into the birthing room, to create a safe space.

So imagine my conundrum when the nurse asked my client if she agreed to erythromycin ointment for the baby's eyes. My client didn't know what to say, so she turned to me for support.
I had to think quickly. I could site the most recent statement by the Canadian Pediatric Society, (, which suggests eliminating the practice of universal antibiotic prophylaxis for neonatal eye infections (most dangerously caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia), or I could avoid looking like a know-it-all and making the doctor feel like a fool, and simply use a tactic that I had seen him use a few years ago (something about his wife, can't remember the details).

What to do? Think fast! It's three am and your client wants an answer. She then asked me "Did you give it to your kids?".  An honest answer - yes, I did.

Pipes up the honourable physician, to the effect that my client shouldn't be so stupid as to agree to an intervention just because "someone" had it done to her kids, but rather should have it done because "doctors advise it". Um. We were all rendered rather voiceless. Then, again, Dr. A. pipes up: "Will you vaccinate your child?" My client answers that, yes, of course she will.

Intimation being that I wouldn't vaccinate my kids, and would advise my clients not to. So rude! So judgemental! So many unfounded assumptions! So disrespectful of the birth room!

It makes me sad that people that are supposed to be practicing good medicine, and good science, are practicing mediocre medicine, not reading the literature, and showing off their skills at making an older woman feel like shit at three in the morning. Bravo! Physician, heal thyself!



  1. uh huh...I think you are too humble, in my not-so-humble opinion. If you know something that could help them then why not say it! We all love you to be our doula because you are an expert!! Why should the Doc feel like a fool if you cite the study - worst case he could pretend he knows about it too if he doesn't. And don't get me started on vaccinations...

  2. Why are you always complaining about hospital staff? You don't know better than doctors. Period. The name of your book alone shows your true colors.

    1. Hello my love. Did you look at the back of my book? It's recommended by two doctors - real ones! It's interesting - the conspiracy isn't about hospital staff - it's about how women think they need other people (including doulas!) to tell them what to do and how to feel. I do know about some things better than some doctors - but that's really not the point. What I was objecting to was his rudeness as a person. Please be kind - your anger and bitterness towards me shows YOUR true colors.


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