As a doula, I can tell you it happens a lot in obstetrics. It happens when doctors and midwives use phrases intended to coerce procedures on pregnant women and their babies that are unnecessary and non-evidence-based. It also happens when care providers get frustrated with the baby's choice of labor day because it is inconvenient for them and interferes with their schedule. I personally know of an instance where this happened. This doctor was irritated that mom was in early labor the night before Thanksgiving. Mom was sent home drugged on Ambien, told to take more in 12 hours, and the doctor would see her Friday. This mom was told she was not in active labor (probably true) and then made to feel as if she could not leave the hospital until she took these meds, even though she verbalized that she did NOT want them. She spent the next 24 hours terrified because her baby was hardly moving.
I have heard reports of doulas who steer moms to doctors with high C-section rates because the births are easy and quick money. I have heard reports of child birth educators who do not discuss the negative aspects of some procedures because their OB GYN husbands perform them routinely.
Are these doctors, midwives, doulas, and childbirth educators acting in their clients best interest? No! Are these examples of a system of medical abuse of the public? Absolutely!
Do these examples mean that all pediatricians, orthopedic surgeons, obstetricians, doulas, and childbirth educators are actively seeking to medically abuse the public? Would it be logical to assume that all people of these professions supported such actions? Of course not! It’s just not true.
Doula support is needed in birth, not to facilitate medical abuse, but to help educate parents in how to avoid it. It is not the Doulas job to stand between a woman and her chosen caregiver. It is a Doulas job to be the hand to hold as they speak up and out and make hard choices. To be the witness to their experience. The victim stays a victim unless we teach them how to stand up to their abuser for themselves. Mothers must be taught how to hold their own hand out and scream, “NO!” Sometimes, new parents need a hand to hold while they do it.
I can not promise a perfect birth experience in any birth location. No one can. What I can do is be there to help mom have courage to face the room and take the stage, because its her production and she is running the show.
If at least one person in the room is standing beside her holding her hand, a woman can discover the inner strength to stand up for herself in labor. I have witnessed it. I will witness it again!
That is my job. I love my job!