This is the first in a series of posts exploring the maternity care crisis in the United States. We will begin by looking at ways to address the two groups of people that need the most educating in order to fix things – medical providers and the women under their care.
I heard recently that someone was afraid of being associated with us because we had a reputation for “doctor bashing.” Really? I thought what we were doing was pointing out when people behave inappropriately. Our local hospital had a policy requiring that doctors stay at the hospital when a midwife was with her patient, but doctors complained about having to be there. We didn’t say, “Bad doctor!” We said, “Hey guys, if you don’t like to sit there, then change the policy.” Just like when your kid does something wrong, you don’t say, “Bad kid!” But you darn sure point out the bad behavior and suggest a better way.
Most people want to stand up for injustice, yet why are we, as a society, so afraid to stand up to physicians? They’re just people, like you and me. They went to school for a really long time and have a great deal of knowledge, but that does not make them better people. They sometimes have bad days and they make mistakes just like we do, and when we make mistakes or behave badly, someone usually points it out to us. So, if two grown ups are in a delivery room with a woman in labor, and one behaves inappropriately, someone ought to say, “Hey, that’s not right!”
Why are we training doulas to provide women with information and to be an advocate for them in the delivery room and then asking them to sit by and watch as their clients are talked to disrespectfully or worse, violated? And if a doula tells a physician he or she is out of line, the doula may be banned from the hospital or get all doulas banned from the hospital. If doulas cannot speak for their clients because they are trained to let the woman speak for herself, it would be nice if nurses spoke up on behalf of the women in their care. But the nurses are in a similar position as doulas, and in many hospitals can lose their jobs if they question the physicians. And I’m sorry, but I’ve had two babies and when you are in labor, you aren’t necessarily in the right frame of mind to stand up for yourself. So if we don’t stand up for the rights of pregnant and laboring women, who is going to do it?