Sunday, October 24, 2010

Doulas Teaching Doctors

This was an excellent article from "Musings of a Montreal Doula" in which she talks about an experience of getting a chance to talk to doctors about birth support:

Doulas and Doctors

She writes:

"To be an excellent clinician in no way means you automatically know how to approach birthing women with wisdom..... to be a doctor means to interact with patients, in this case vulnerable, open, life giving women who are having peak experiences of pain and physical/emotional catharses. Some manners to keep that experience sacred, if you will, are important to learn."

She notes the following, which is absolutely spot on:

"I have known of and seen residents do the following (please don't judge them harshly...they are learning, and most of them are young and sweet...they make me want to feed them soup): talk about the baby in the next room who just suffered from major shoulder dystocia while they are standing between the legs of a woman whose baby is crowning...answer and talk on a cell phone WHILE doing a vaginal exam...allow a discussion to unfold, inspired by the fact that the woman in front of them has been pushing for a long while, about the baby earlier in the day who died from a complication and that that mom had been pushing for a long time too....tell a woman that she CANNOT deliver unless she BLOCKS her air and GETS MAD at the baby and PUSHES it out HARD........

And then - I love this! - she works on the solution rather than the problem (emphasis mine):

"So instead of us getting mad at them and irate about their insensitive treatment, why not get more pro active and guide them towards a bit more awareness of the quality of their presence? I believe in people's hearts, and I truly do not think any of these residents held bad intent in theirs. They are simply so busy learning how to be fantastic clinical care providers that it can be easy to forget that behind the pelvis is a woman and her partner...who are extremely vulnerable. The fact that doctors are entering into their practices NOT necessarily having been taught Ina May's words to live by: "If a woman doesn't look like a goddess in birth, someone isn't treating her right," means that there are gaps in medical training. Because as midwives and doulas, we are acutely aware that labour can malfunction when a mother becomes physically and emotionally distressed."

She spends the rest of the article talking about the talk/demonstration she was able to give about skills for dealing with laboring women in a supportive, encouraging, empathetic way - wonderful stuff. We need more activism like this! Instead of signs and picketing, how much more effective to teach classes to nurses and doctors so that change can come from the inside out.

Thanks for the article and for your work!

By the way, if you're not following this blog, you really should be - it is excellent! Great stuff in every post that I've read.


  1. I agree that such interns are not insensitive on purpose. We have all got to learn at some point, and there is nothing wrong with that. On the other hand, things like that are very distracting and can even stall labor. I wouldn't want things like that going on at my birth!


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