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It is time to speak up!

Speak up about maternity care!

Imagine you arrive at the hospital with your partner and your doula, and as you enter triage, the doula who has been supporting you at home is not allowed to enter. The doula you paid to support you during labor is sitting in the waiting room even though you said you preferred for her to be with you. Policy once again was more important than a laboring woman's needs. This is just one example, but I am (and I believe all doulas are) constantly frustrated as we see this happening again and again.

This is not just about doula support. This is about women expressing what they want and need during labor and being overruled because this is the way it has always been done or being scared into doing what their care provider wants. I could give many examples, some much more extreme and intrusive than the triage example, and this is COMMON. This wasn't just one instance. As a doula, I can certainly help a woman achieve her goals in labor, but I can not keep a nurse from saying " we need to monitor you and baby right now" or the doctor from scaring mom into doing what they ask. I always make sure mom knows she has a choice, but often those medically caring for her are louder and more insistent.

Moms, dads, families, you are the ones who have to speak up! Things will not change until you demand better care. Until women start insisting that their doulas are allowed in triage, we will be kept out. Until women start firing their doctors for scaring and threatening them, they will be manipulated into interventions. Until the partners speak up and say "you can't treat her that way", we will continue to be witness to women being demeaned in labor. It is ok to say "NO" or "I refuse" in labor. All the nurses have to do is document that you said no. If something is done in labor that you didn't like or made your birth experience harder, tell your doctor or at least write a note to them or the charge nurse at the hospital.

You may be okay with a lot of these things being done, but what if your best friend didn't want that episiotomy then had a hard time healing or your daughter wasn't able to achieve the natural birth she desired because she was tied down to the bed with monitors. This isn't about medical safety. It is about choice and respect and dignity in childbirth. When there is a medical need, I have not met a family who wouldn't CHOOSE to do what was best medically. The things that upset me are done just for convenience for the nurse, hospital, and care providers while forgetting that there is something amazing and powerful happening. Something that demands for the woman to feel safe, loved, and comfortable.

Please, write to the hospitals and your doctor's offices. Let them know what could have been done differently to help you have a better experience. Let them know what things traumatized you and why. Let them know that you and your family should be what is most important, not just monitoring and records, and convenience for them. There is still so much room for improvement in maternity care in Chattanooga!

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