Bridging the Divide: Care Providers and Doulas

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It might surprise you, but care providers probably don’t have the greatest opinions of doulas.

In a world where doulas are seen as birth room advocates, it can be hard to forge these important relationships with local care providers.

For so long, they've had to be weary and expect that we are going to come in, guns blazing, to any exam, birth, or meeting room we enter and start tossing out evidence based statistics and a lack of trust in their motives. There's this expectation that we will automatically disrespect the careful work of these men and women that have an abundance of medical training, putting hands in front of vaginas, speaking and making choices for our clients, and whispering seeds of doubt and suspicion in their ears.

I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty upset - no, pissed off - if someone came into my place of work and started questioning every move I made. Wouldn't you?

So what do we, as doulas, need to do to fix that?

Building relationships with providers inside and outside of the birth room is extremely important for us as doulas, as well as for our clients. Inside of the birth room, we can start by introducing ourselves to the people taking care of our clients, from the nursing staff, to the doctors, residents, and midwives. Friendliness and getting to know the care providers is an easy way to set a great, relaxing tone for our interactions with them going forward. Another thing to remember is that your client chose their provider because they believed in their ability to care for them, and because of that, we should respect the knowledge and experience of these care providers, and trust that they have the best interest of our clients in mind.

Outside of the birth room, it is important to recognize that as doulas, we want similar things for our clients and we’re on the same team as the nurses, doctors, and midwives. While we support the parents in achieving their goals in a non-medical way, the providers are there to ensure that all bases are covered medically and that all parties are safely seen through the process of pregnancy and birth. Acknowledging the distinction of our roles (nonmedical and medical), we can ensure that we don’t overstep our bounds or go out of scope, and can encourage an open dialogue to build healthy communication between our clients and their providers for all of those important decisions.

And what are the doulas at Mountain State Maternity doing to help bridge the gap between us and providers?

At Mountain State Maternity, we like to do all of the above and then go beyond even that.

For all of our birth clients, we promote a model of care that includes a cohesive work ethic because we believe that working alongside the care providers is one of the cornerstones of building a strong birth team. When we join you at the birth, we like to take care of the medical side of your team, bringing goodies to the nurse’s desk when time allows. If not, we pop by afterwards with something sweet, and we always send them a nice ‘thank you’ card because working with them was such a pleasure!

When we aren’t in the birth room, we like to reach out periodically to the providers to stay familiar and up to date with what they’re doing, as well as keep them up to date with us. We also love showing our appreciation, celebrating these individuals on national days of recognition to say our thanks in other ways. Our ultimate goal is for our clients to have the best experience they possibly can, and part of that is building a strong, healthy and lasting relationship with the care providers in our community.