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When your doula is not invited

Years ago, when professional doulas first entered the birthing room, there was mixed reaction.  As expected, some care providers thought they were at best superfluous.  At worst, dangerous.

I remember when I first began working as a doula, I was hurt and surprised by the commentary on midwife and L&D forums.  I didn’t know I was doing anything controversial or threatening.

Now, most care providers speak words of welcome and praise for doulas.  They may not mean it but they understand that patient-as-consumer is becoming the norm.  Some providers really support doulas.  I get many of my referrals from some of the larger OB practices.  I even found one hospital-based practice (not local) that requires doulas for moms planning an unmedicated birth.

So I was surprised when I heard from a fellow doula that she was not allowed to attend a birth with a midwife.  It seems that this midwife uses a pool of house doulas from which her clients can choose.


I really don’t understand.  Why would a midwife refuse to permit the client’s contracted doula to attend her birth?

I can only speculate.

Fear that the doula will talk about something the midwife is doing?  What is she doing?

Are the house doulas trained in some special way?  Are they answering to the midwife?  Assisting her?  Because your doula should be working for you.

Are the house doulas paying a finder’s fee to the midwife?

Has she had a horrible experience with a doula?

Something else that I’m missing?  Because I’m truly stumped here.

I can’t remember being blocked from a birth before.  I’ve never encountered an OB who said a doula couldn’t attend.  A few times, midwives have told my clients that doulas were fine but not necessary.  Once, at St. Francis, I had a grumpy nurse say that only one person was allowed in the delivery room and that I had to leave.  The dad requested a new nurse and we carried on.

So this one is new.  What do you do when your doula is not invited?  I know it can feel challenging to break up with your midwife or OB.  You can interview the house doulas and ask some careful questions.  Choosing a doula is (or should be) an intensely personal choice.  There is a good chance you won’t resonate with the house doulas.  But maybe you will.  At the very least, this situation would be a red flag.  If the midwife doesn’t “allow” choice in who attends your birth, are there other areas she doesn’t allow choice?

Now, the midwife, admittedly, can decide who is present.  The couple, admittedly, can decide whether to hire the midwife.

This doula, admittedly, can decide who to recommend as a care provider.

3 responses »

  1. What do you do when your care provider (or any kind) wont allow you to choose your own doula? That’s easy. Find a new care provider.

  2. Wow! That does put up some red flags!

  3. Interesting…I didn’t even know theyhad a say in something like that? Hmmm..that is almost shocking to me 😦


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