A Doula’s note to the birth-room nurse.

I’ve refrained from posting this because I know some extraordinary nurses who make my heart swell and I don’t want to offend but the message is loud and clear that I’m to talk about this. It’s a little long so thank you for bearing with me, if you do. I’ll make it into a blogpost.

Recently I sat in a chair at an appointment and it turned out the woman next to me was a former Labour and Delivery nurse.
This keeps happening to me- it was an OB group next to us at a Kings Of Leon concert last month (they smirked at me when I told them I was a doula) and two L & D nurses who were talking very loudly and indiscreetly about their workplace shenanigans in the nail salon the other week…I wonder why the Universe is doing this? Maybe to solidify my trust in my own work. Maybe to heighten my awareness that to speak your truth you must run the risk of ruffling feathers.

When this nurse and I discovered what our respective jobs were I smiled and asked ‘so you’re one of the nurses who likes doulas?’ She promptly replied ‘No, not really.’

I knew that. I asked her why.

Because we take over their job, was the basic answer. We overstep our mark.

I understood…because, I understand what it is to love women and want to serve them wholly.

What I knew she and all those other staff in obstetrics didn’t understand about ME and MY peers is that we don’t walk into these families lives at the onset of labour, we don’t have an agenda to take control of anything, we simply want to serve this woman the way that she has reiterated she wants to be served for months and months and months, sometimes even in our discussions before conception happens. That we have sat with these women for hours and listened to their fears, held them through tears, laughed with them, become familiar with family, that we leave a piece of our heart with them all.

What I knew she didn’t understand was that when those doulas, whom she didn’t like, had vocalized that the birthing women didn’t want to deliver in the bed, it was because they have seen women birth their babies standing, kneeling, squatting, in a bed, on a bed, off a bed, on the wet bathroom floor, in a car, in the tub: we see it many ways, many times. It is true that we don’t see hemorrhages or emergent decels in heart-rate without recovery or massive tearing or ‘failure to progress’ like you do, but we promote physiological birth and that dramatically reduces those issues, anyway. So we ‘alternative birth partners’ know you see a lot, but we do too, and our our parameters are wide.

What I knew she didn’t understand is that when we glove up and help change the blue pads, wipe blood and amniotic fluid from legs and and take a woman to the bathroom, sit there on the floor with her whilst she breathes her baby down, we are doing that to help her remain in her safe space because she knows us and to help you because we see you have protocol and paperwork to follow.

What I knew she didn’t understand was that we sometimes speak up in that room because if this Mother is able to get to delta realms in such a bright and noisy vicinity, the space of consciousness that we have spoken about since our union began, we have to protect that from a respectful distance whilst she is dealing with the questions, blood pressure cuffs, IV wires, requests to move position accommodate the monitor and cafuffle that take her out of her body and into her head. That stuff she’s being asked to contend with is seldom about safety but about control. And she should be the claimant of that.

What I knew she didn’t understand was that the reason that we are there in the first place is because the obstetrical birth’s reputation precedes it and women seek us, not the other way around; we have this job because the women that we both serve are looking for safety far different to what you feel it to be.

What I knew she didn’t understand is this: that midwives, Doula’s, we are simply not there to disturb. Or to be a balm to other staff’s noses being out of joint.

We are there to hold the edges in any way we can and nothing else.

I wish that she understood that.

And to my nurse friends, please know this isn’t about you. We would not be friends if I ever felt you were threatened by the presence of a person who is there to love the same women that you get up every day to love too.

📷: Forever Framed Photography- I’m kneeling at the feet of a woman who is about to birth a surprise footling breech baby, in the hospital. A few minutes after this, baby had arrived. Thank you Kendra Klassen for allowing me to hold space for you twice over xxx (image shared with permission)