#21: Doulas and Don’ts: My Cautionary Tale

Just over a year ago, the love of my life came into this world.

Most of you that know me know that there were complications when my daughter was born. I’ve been hesitant to share the details of this before, because it implicates myself and others in our poor decision making, and frankly, how it put my daughter’s life at risk. But now, more than ever, I feel like this experience needs to be shared. It is emotional clutter of the greatest kind, and has dragged me down for the last year. I’ve beat myself up over and over again about the way Joely suffered and almost didn’t make it in her first days of life. I need to let this go, but as a way of doing penance, I wanted to serve as a warning to other new moms.

When I got pregnant, I knew from the start that I wanted to achieve a natural birth. I didn’t want to be medicated, didn’t want a cesarean delivery, and certainly wouldn’t get an epidural. I planned to labor as much as I could at home, and at the last minute when I was very close to giving birth, I’d head to the hospital to safely deliver. There was even a time where I deeply considered having a home birth, despite the fact that it is illegal to have a midwife attend one in the state of Kentucky. I wanted nothing to do with the hooked-up, overly medicated and doctor-controlled environment of modern births I’d seen and heard about. And everything I’d read suggested that I hire a doula, since studies had shown that women with doula-attended births had better pain management outcomes than those who didn’t. So I did.

I met my doula when I was about 25 weeks pregnant. She seemed wonderful. She was so well-educated, was very “crunchy”, and was also a lactation consultant. I felt I’d hit some sort of jackpot, since she could help both during and after the birth of the baby. I explained my goals for my birth, and she seemed very jazzed.

At around 30 weeks, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This isn’t abnormal for women with PCOS, since they usually have insulin issues. Many women with GD end up having larger babies, and this obviously terrified me as a first time mom. When I took this information to my doula, she eased my fears, and said that, essentially, it is a diagnosis that far too many women get, and had I let her know beforehand that I was taking the test, I could have prepared for it in such a way that I would have passed it. She also told me to generally disregard the information that the dietician gave me, and just to eat healthy in a way that made me feel good.

The other issue with gestational diabetes is with shoulder distocia. Many babies from moms with GD are born with larger shoulders, which are difficult to pass through the birth canal. This can lead to injuries or even death of the baby. When I relayed my fears about this to my doula, she basically stated that it was something doctors only talked about to “frighten” their patients into a cesarean delivery, and that she’d never seen a “true” case of it.

As my pregnancy went on, there were many times where my doula contradicted the suggestions and warnings of my obstetrician. When I was tested for Group B Strep, (a bacteria that the baby can pick up in the birth canal that requires moms to get antibiotics while in labor), she stated that I could get treated on an outpatient basis, and not need to go in right when my labor started.

To anyone who works in the medical field, I’m sure warning bells have been going off like crazy. Unfortunately, I was an extremely naive first time mom who trusted a doula who is well-respected by my community. From the start, my doctor was the enemy, someone to be dodged and avoided, my appointments and checkups to be feared, and my birth plan was to avoid my ob’s intervention at virtually any cost.

There were some wonderful things my doula did for me. She instructed me to sit on a birthing ball instead of a couch during my pregnancy. She walked me through what would likely be the course of labor and delivery, what to expect, etc. . She offered me some used cloth diapers and showed me her setup in her own home. We developed a relationship of trust during my last trimester, and I felt that she would be the right person to guide me through labor and delivery.

My water broke on Sunday, April 7th. I’d spent the weekend in a cleaning frenzy, not knowing that I was just padding my nest for the coming baby. I called my doula to let her know, and she encouraged me to rest as much as possible. I know my doctor was firm when telling me to go in right away if my water broke because of my Group B strep positive diagnosis, but my doula was experienced. She would never suggest for me to stay home if it were unsafe, so I called Colin, told him the news, and he came home from work. We ran to the store, and walked around, hand in hand, grabbing some light snacks for labor, some diapers and wipes, since we didn’t have any yet, and relished the last time we’d get to be out and about together.

I laid in bed that night waiting for contractions to come. They didn’t. I couldn’t sleep in anticipation of my little girl coming, and by the next morning, I still wasn’t feeling any contractions. But hey, my water had broken! I was on my way!

I got up, did a light yoga session, and called my family to let them know my water was broken. My mom and sister wanted to come down immediately, and asked when I was going to the hospital. I told them to wait, that I was going to labor at home for a bit, and that I’d keep them updated. Both Colin’s mom and my own mom seemed a little upset that I wasn’t going in yet, and pushed me in that direction. But I wanted a natural birth, and wasn’t having contractions yet, so I shoved off their suggestions, and said I’d call them when I went in. After telling my doula that I wasn’t feeling contractions, she suggested that it was time for me to do some walking and nipple stimulation with a breast pump, both of which were proven to bring on contractions.

It was at this point, since the urging of my mothers was nagging at the back of my mind, that I brought up that I was Group B strep positive again to my doula. (Most doctors recommend going in immediately after the waters break in these cases, since there is no bag of waters to protect the baby from anything inside the birth canal, and no later than 12 hours afterward.) We’d hit that point, and gone beyond. But she reassured me that the World Health Organization says you can go in up to 48 hours afterwards, and that I’d be fine to stay home. Again, I trusted the word of my doula, and walked around the neighborhood, hand in hand, with my sweet husband. I finally started contracting a bit while using the breast pump, but they were painful, irregular contractions that caused me to be unable to sit comfortably. I did this until the early hours on Tuesday morning.

By sunup Tuesday morning, I was exhausted, both mentally and physically. I’d slept maybe 5 hours in the course of two days. I texted my doula and said that we weren’t having any regular luck, and she stated she’d come over. At 5am, she said that I needed to go take a bath, let Colin get some sleep, and try my hardest to get a good nap in, because we needed to get my contractions going before the deadline of 48 hours. It was also at this point that she stressed the need for us to be “creative with the truth” with the doctors when we arrived at the hospital, because if they found out when my water really broke, they would take me or an immediate c-section upon arrival. We rehearsed what time we would tell the nurses on intake several times throughout the day.

I took a bath and a short nap, as directed, and woke up having fairly regular contractions that remained uncomfortable when I sat down. I ate a nice big breakfast of eggs and wheat toast, and let Colin sleep through the day. My doula and I chatted about all sorts of things. I vented my fears, talked about co-sleeping, and my contractions got closer and closer together. I started not being able to talk through them. And eventually, I became unaware of much outside of my own head. I stood at my wooden cabinet full of DVD’s, just moaning and swaying through each contraction, really starting to feel the pain, but working through it. My doula alerted Colin, and sent him for some supplements for me post-birth, and had to call him home; my contractions were very close. At 5pm on Tuesday, we were ready to head to the hospital.

A wild car ride through 5pm traffic later, I was walking to L&D, stopping every few feet to have a contraction. When I got there, my contractions were extremely painful, and the nurses kept asking me questions to which I’d already answered on my pre-admit paperwork. To this day, I truly cannot remember which member of our party answered when my water broke. I was very deep into my contractions, but I’m fairly certain that both Colin and my doula said that it was 5am that morning. Colin acted as he was instructed all day long by my doula, who she trusted. I may have chimed in at that point as well, but my memory of much more than pain at that point is very fuzzy.

From that point on, I was on antibiotics. I was being monitored, and the baby seemed fine. I, however, was not. I was unable to sit down, which I now know is a sign of the baby being caught in the birth canal, but then, I didn’t know at all. My doctor was out of town, and a midwife at my practice was attending the birth. The first moment she saw me, I was screaming through a very painful contraction, and she immediately offered me a cesarean. I arrived at 7 centimeters, so why would I do that now? I was almost there! I refused, and kept on screaming, holding on to Colin’s neck for dear life, and sobbing between contractions.

Finally, at about midnight, after hours of hard labor, I gave in. I was working on about 8 hours of sleep in three days time. I couldn’t sit down, and my legs were about to give out. I requested and was administered an epidural.

After this, all three of us took a nap. My whole body was shaking in response to my low blood pressure from the epidural. But I slept. I awoke at around 3:30am, revived and ready to see my baby. I was still regularly contracting, but just couldn’t feel it. The nurses suggested I start some pitocin to jumpstart the contractions, and since I couldn’t feel anything anyway, I agreed.

At about 5:30am, I was feeling the pressure of the regular contractions. I knew it was time. I really loved the nurse I had overnight, and was determined to pop this kid out before she left and a new one replaced her at 7:30. They turned off my epidural so I could have a better grasp of where to aim all my push power, and we started to push.

And push.

And push.

We pushed. I pushed through the shift change, and saw another doctor for the first time since I saw the midwife the night before. He gave a glowing smile, and told me I was doing great, and that he’d pop back in to see me shortly. I pushed some more. I couldn’t believe the pain I was in. It felt like my insides were being ripped apart. But obviously, I was getting close. At around 8:40am, proclamations could be heard that they could see the head! “My god, look at all that hair!” I heard the nurse squeal. They rushed to grab the doctor, who appeared. I desperately wanted this baby to come out. I was tired, unmedicated for pain, and couldn’t seem to get this kid out fast enough.

I pushed as hard as I could, over and over again. I heard some muffled, concerned voices. “PUSH YOUR BABY OUT!”, one nurse screamed. Three nurses piled on top of my belly, trying to push, begging me to push with them. I couldn’t breathe. “I can’t breathe!”, I tried to say. A nurse screamed in my face, “IF YOU CAN TALK, YOU CAN BREATHE! PUSH YOUR BABY OUT, NOW!!!”

I felt a needle in my perenium. I screamed. I felt pressure, and without my glasses, saw the doctor and nurses scurry to the side of the room. I didn’t hear a cry. I just heard nurses talking in low voices, someone yelling, calling for the NICU, and suddenly, the room was empty except for my doctor, stitching up the slice he’d made, me, Colin, and my doula.

“Where’s my baby? What happened?”

“If you pray, now would be the time to do it”, my doula said softly.

For the next 15 minutes, we sat in relative silence. My body was screaming from the rush of endorphins after birth. I was high, but saw my husband crying. My sister walked in, looking excited, saying congratulations and looked around, confused.

Finally, a nurse came in. “She’s alive. A doctor will be in to check with you shortly.”

Breathe.

A doctor comes in. “She lost oxygen at birth. She had shoulder distocia. We’re not sure the extent of the injuries… We know the brain was impacted, her liver, her kidneys… It will take time to know the extent of the damage.”

A swift kick to my stomach made me breath again. I looked at my husband, bewildered. What had just happened?!

My doula took her bags and left.

We were moved to the recovery rooms. I saw my family. I didn’t cry. I was too high on the love potion that occurs post birth. I chatted with my family, laughed, and only a few hours after visiting hours were up did I realize what was really happening.

I showered my bone-tired body, and walked to the NICU. My daughter was attached to everything imaginable. When she was touched, every monitor seemed to go off, screeching, warning us not to get close. Doctors asked if they could treat her with a cooling cap to decrease the cell death in her brain, and of course we agreed. It seemed that they knew what they were doing.

I later found out that our sweet girl was septic from the Group B strep. Even for an oxygen-deprived baby, she wasn’t active enough. They knew something else was wrong. She was treated with antibiotics, anti-seizure meds, and a host of other treatments to keep her comfortable.

I left the hospital the next morning. I begged my own doctor, who had just returned, to release me early. I felt fine, just tired, and wanted to sleep in my own bed. I realized that I needed to start pumping instead of breastfeeding if I wanted my child to be breastfed at all.

My doula loaned me one. She made a mixture to help the inflammation from my episiotomy. I asked if we could have done anything differently, and she said that “If you’d had a homebirth, she’d be fine. We would have hung you up by your toes to get that baby out.”

My nerves were shot. I felt fully responsible. She suggested I sue the delivering doctor for malpractice, though now I can’t remember what she suggested as the reason.

A few days later, the doctor said that Joely had made enough of an improvement that I could try to nurse her. My doula was thrilled. We met at the NICU, and I attempted to nurse my girl. No luck. She simply wouldn’t latch. Doula pulled out a little device that dripped milk into the baby’s mouth as she suckled, which would give her the nutrients she needed even if she wasn’t properly latching. Joely’s NICU doctor came in, and was very upset. “Joely could aspirate on that! “, she exclaimed. My doula actually had the nerve to fight the doctor at this point, saying that it was nothing more than a slow drip, that she’d be fine.

The NICU doctor was so upset that she called Colin and I back to meet with her alone. She stated that Doula was no longer allowed in the NICU, and that there were plenty of hospital-affiliated LC’s who could work appropriately with the doctor for Joely’s care. We obviously agreed and apologized.

I realized pretty quickly after this that my doula did not respect doctors. They were the enemy. And from that point on, I was extremely hesitant to even see her face to face.

I want to make this very clear: I am not writing this to “out” my doula, although frankly, she should never work again. She gave me medical advice over and over again. She contradicted and undermined not only my doctor, but Joely’s NICU doctor after she had saved my daughter’s life. She is the sole reason I didn’t go to the hospital within twelve hours of when my water broke.

The purpose of this post was to strongly urge new mothers to understand the role of a doula in your pregnancy and birth experience. Doulas are NOT medical professionals. They are there to support your labor. I know many other doulas who understand and embrace their support role, and would never dream of undermining a doctor. If I am ever blessed with another pregnancy, I will hire another doula, and attempt another natural birth, because I really believe our bodies were made to birth babies without *unnecessary* intervention.

In my case, I was so afraid of intervention that I lost sight of what truly mattered: a safe delivery. Please, ladies, listen to your doctor. Do research. Know your limits. Don’t make the mistakes I made. Be an advocate for your own birth experience, but also understand what can and does go wrong. My daughter almost paid with her life for my own folly. It is through the sheer brilliance of her medical team and scientific breakthroughs that she is with us today.

Don’t see your doctor as your enemy. See him/her as your partner in the care of your body and your baby’s birth. Ask them questions. Prepare yourself for possibilities ahead of time. But don’t fight them. They have seen things that happen to women like me, and work tirelessly to prevent them. Let them help you!

My daughter defied every single obstacle put in her way. Doctors thought she had severe brain damage, and her MRI came out with a tiny little bruise normal for babies born vaginally. She was on anti-seizure medication until 7 months of age, and she has never shown a single symptom of seizures since. She says “mama”, “dada”, “hi”, and occasionally says “Bella”, which is her dog’s name. She cruises, crawls, plays, dances to music, and is generally a miraculous thing to behold. My child is beautiful. Her birth was a mess.

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**Edit**

After reading some of the comments, I wanted to make something perfectly clear: if I have additional pregnancies, and if my medical professional suggests that something needs to be done for the safety and health of either myself or my child, I will not hesitate. This experience has taught me that doctors are NOT the enemy. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with hoping to have a non-medicated birth, if that’s something your care provider thinks is well within your limits.

Personally, at my 6-week checkup, my OB stated that there was no reason I shouldn’t have vaginal, non-medicated births in the future, as long as the baby was healthy. But if my OB suggested I have a c-section or get induced for any health-related reason, I would be happy to comply with those requests, as she obviously has the care of my baby and me in the front of her mind.

230 thoughts on “#21: Doulas and Don’ts: My Cautionary Tale

  1. RPCVmama27 says:

    Wow, doulas are there for emotional support and advice for managing your pain. They should NEVER be giving medical advice because they aren’t trained to give medical advice. Your doula seriously violated a lot of ethical boundaries by advising you to ignore your doctors and dietician. I too had my water break over 24 hours before I got contractions going, and 34 before my daughter was born, and my doula urged me to keep checking with my midwife (legal in my state) to see if she wanted us to go to the hospital. I had blood tests done 3 times between the time my water broke and the time I finally went into real labor so that they could make sure I didn’t put myself or my baby at risk. Your doula was seriously negligent to tell you not to go in. Even worse that she recommended a bath, as my midwife told me not to take a bath and risk introducing bacteria into the birth canal before regular contractions were established. Encouraging clients to lie is completely unethical. I am very very anti C-section, epi, and medicated birth… except in cases like yours. You did the right thing in giving yourself more than enough time before allowing medical intervention when it was truly needed. I’m so thankful you and your daughter are ok now, but am very sad for you that your birth experience was marred by someone who should not be bending the rules to meet her circumstances.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I think she recommended a salt bath, which I did, to ensure it didn’t introduce bacteria into the birth canal. I’m pretty sure things were good there.

      We are happy and healthy in spite of my daughter’s birth. But I knew my story should be shared in hopes that someone else could be helped!

      I love doulas and midwives. I don’t want to trash the profession at all, and want to have one in any subsequent births. But… I just want women to be aware of the doula’s role, and their own boundaries.

      • Debra Merritt Bruflat says:

        Thank you for sharing this really difficult story. I assure you as a Doula Trainer myself that every student that takes my workshop will know your story. I want them to understand the seriousness of staying within the scope of practice of a doula!

      • MJ says:

        I don’t think there’s any evidence that salt baths prevent bacterial infection after membranes have ruptured. You really got taken advantage of by a quack quasi-medical professional.

      • Anonymous says:

        I just want to clarify something for other people who are reading this – any sort of a bath (salt bath or not) introduces bacteria into the birth canal and is contraindicated once your membranes have ruptured.

      • Chris says:

        I am not sure what you mean by salt bath not introducing bacteria. Sea water contain plenty of salt, and also plenty of organisms, such as bacterial, fungi and many diverse life forms. Salt water DO NOT stop you from introducing bacterial into the uterus after water breaking.

      • Erin says:

        The salt bath is no cleaner or safe than any other bath. You trusted the wrong person and she gave you horrendous advice- you’re fortunate you and your baby didn’t suffer permanent damage!

        I fail to understand why women take the advice of non- medical personnel and put the life and safety of a child in their hands. The medical professionals aren’t your enemy, and only want what you should want- a safe and healthy baby. Your birth plan is meaningless if the result is a damaged child.

      • katRNOB says:

        I have been a L&D nurse for 11 years and I love what I do. As a L&D nurse my primary concern is the health and safety of the mother and baby. I listen to their fears and educate them at each step, with each change in the expected plan of care. What I bring to the table, is years of experience, hundreds of attended deliveries each with their own challenges. A deep clinical and medical background that I feel qualifies me for the primary role of L&D nurse: patient advocate. I’ve worked with many doulas over the years and I appreciate the role of an experienced doula. Sure I’ve encountered difficult doulas over the years, I could say the same about nurses, midwives and doctors. But the relationship between a doula and an expectant mother is unique often built over the course of several weeks, even months. I could tell from reading your story that you and your doula grew close, you formed a kinship, a bond of trust. 9 times out of 10 that relationship is what helps to get a mom through the L&D process, through to a safe delivery. But keep in mind, that 1 in 10 deliveries are complicated by something, from something big to something small (like P-PROM, in your case…premature, prolonged rupture of membranes. Premature in the sense that your water broke before your body went into labor).
        The main reason I was responding to this post was to say that we let patients go in the tub all the time after their water has broken. It’s not contraindicated after rupture of membranes. I got a little side tracked, but I felt led to tell you, that you should not feel guilty for anything you did or didn’t do with regards to your labor and delivery! You had several cards stacked against you, the pprom, the gestational diabetes, the gbs; I see patients with these risk factors often and having the outcome you did is not uncommon. You listened to your body (as well as your doula, whom you believed to be a trustworthy, knowledgeable care taker). It’s difficult to say how things may have turned out under different circumstances…but with my years experience I feel confident saying this: chances are, if you came to the hospital within an hour of your water breaking, you very well may have ended up with a C/S within 24-48 hours, and I believe your daughter would have faced the same challenges she did at birth either way. You do not deserve any “penance” or punishment for what you did or did not do during your labor! I hope you will take that to heart and find peace with this ♡ You sound like you are a great mommy and will be again someday…and just remember then like now, we have very little control over when and how babies come into this world!

      • Sonia says:

        Whoa crazy….I hope you are suing her! That is serious negligence right there, along with encouraging you to lie.

    • cc says:

      Maybe this particular doula wanted to be a nurse / doctor but didn’t attain her dream? I’m glad that this story has a happy ending.

    • Jen says:

      What does it mean when you say, “I’d spent the weekend in a cleaning frenzy, not knowing that I was just padding my nest for the coming baby.”?

      • Charlie says:

        I’m just a dad and grandpa. A dad of four. My wife would go into a cleaning frenzy when it was close to the time for all of our babies to be born. It is my understanding that this is really a common occurance and seems to be instinctual. I noticed the same behaviour when my children were expecting their babies!

      • Angie says:

        She meant she was “nesting.” Like a mama bird pads her nest with twigs and leaves before her babies come, human mamas often feel the compulsion to clean up their “nest” so the home is ready for baby.

      • Aidan's mom says:

        It’s called “nesting”. A lot of women experience a surge of energy and have an overwhelming need to get something done before the baby is born. Some women pack and repackage their bag, some wash and reorganize the nursery, some have a cleaning frenzy. I know someone who nested by baking. Personally my floors, counters and refrigerator could not get clean enough. I was cleaning them until right before I left the hospital. Watch your friends….you’ll notice it! It could be a signal that labor is near.

  2. Amanda says:

    I feel for you. I know how terrible and firey and engulfing mommy guilt can be. I can only imagine how much you’ve suffered, even after Joely recovered and grew into a healthy little newborn. I hope you have found peace and forgiven yourself. It’s so hard when we put trust in people who betray us. But you’ve done a truly selfless thing to share your story so that other moms can learn. Thank you!!

    • Thanks, Amanda. It has really been difficult, and I’m hoping that, by posting this, I can start to forgive myself. I think I’m starting to, and thanks for the support!

  3. Cindy says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of the struggles you, Joely, and Colin endured at the hands of a doula. . We are taught to trust those with authority. Sadly, most professions have those who would sacrifice good practices in order to enhance their own self importance. Let your story be a reminder for all of us to be cautious, to question, to investigate and to call a halt when we see red flags or see others going beyond the parameters of their position. May God continue to bless Joely and her family. Hugs to you!

    • Thank you so much! And I love doulas in general, and will most definitely use one for any subsequent births. I now am armed with the strength and knowledge to put my trust in my doctors for medical advice, and to my doula for emotional and physical pain relief during labor and delivery.

      My best to you!

      • Anonymous says:

        I just do not understand where this “doctors are the enemy” idea comes from. I am a female Obgyn who had three unmedicated births myself and encourage my patients to do the same if that is what they want. But I can use forceps or do a c section in a minute if circumstances warrant it and I follow evidence-based medicine protocol. Why not look for an Ob who can be your partner in your birth experience instead of a doula or birth attendant who obviously is not putting you and your baby above her own agenda???

      • In the future, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I can’t possibly name all the mistakes I made with my first pregnancy… But I’m hoping other moms will learn from my mistakes.

        Also, my OB is amazing. Had I stuck with her suggestions, Joely would never have endured what she did.

    • Autumn says:

      Yes your doula was our if bounds but why in the works would you not do your own research? I would never take what any professional including doctors had to say and blindly follow it. You have to take responsibility for your pregnancy, labor, body, birth, and baby.

      • Oh, so a mother has to go to medical school now to be appropriately “responsible” for her own birth? What a ridiculous statement. Medical there providers are hired for their professional opinion.Of course, you can read books and journal articles galore, or even get a second opinion, but any google research (or even reading of actual peer-reviewed literature) you do is not the same as years of education and training on how to evaluate that literature, nor does it make you responsible for how your birth unfolds. The problem in this case is that this “doula” educated herself using utter crap for a source. I have seen the things that this doula told this mother spouted as “research” by self-proclaimed birth professionals all over the internet. Additionally, even real knowledge does not keep you from contracting GBS or having a shoulder dystocia or any other complication; sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do. Your statement is mother-blaming at it’s finest. Something tells me that you’re one of those people who thinks they know better than professionals with years of education and experience based on reading some blogs and a few abstracts of journal articles. How arrogant and blind.

        To the OP: thank you for sharing your story. As a doula myself, I can tell you that your doula was so far out of the boundries of her profession that she shouldn’t be allowed to keep her certification. Disgusting. It is women like her that give the profession a terrible name among medical care providers. I’m sorry you were duped by someone like this. Your daughter is beautiful, and I’m so glad she is doing well.

  4. MotherMeDoulas says:

    Dear sweet mama! How generous of you to give a detailed report of “doulas behaving badly” – while admitting your own pitfalls. It can be hard to make decisions when you feel in a corner of emotions and conflicting recommendations. As a doula trainer, I find stories like this very helpful to share with my trainees – sometimes we learn from poor examples best. We know what we do “great” but we need to see behaviors that would greatly limit all mothers to have great support. When medical staff see this, it gives them reason to deny mothers the benefit of doulas who work hard to stay within their scope of practice and working ethically.
    It’s also one of the questions we get in our initial interviews quite a bit. Making sure that there is a definitive line between our role and the role of medical personnel is of utmost importance. When mothers have hired a doctor or midwife, we (doulas) should respect that decision and not give any reason to initiate mistrust.
    I’m so sorry that this was your experience. Glad that time has passed; your grief can be soothed and this sharing I hope, is part of your healing process. **Hugs**

    • I think that’s why I wanted to stress how important doulas are, and how for any other births, I definitely intend to use one. This was one example of one doula, and most doulas I’ve come in contact with we’re nothing like this!

      Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for training future doulas! I’ve considered going into the field myself, and hope to find someone like you who is willing to explore stories like mine when teaching others.

    • Nicole says:

      As a 10 yr L&D RN veteran and now a Women’s Health nurse practitioner…I appreciate that you share these stories with your students! Some doulas are amazing and others are not so great…I truly believe just like in any other professionals, we learn what we do best from those who mentor us. I also appreciate that you define each role of the team! Everyone has their place and talents when it comes to a successful delivery!

  5. Annie says:

    So glad that your daughter is doing well after such a difficult start. I have been an OB nurse for over 20 years and one of the things that makes me the saddest is dealing with people like your doula who make medical professionals out to be the enemy. I am not the enemy. I want women to have the birth experience they want, but ultimately I want a healthy baby for them to take home. As you said, education is the key. If you have a birth plan, know the pros/cons of each thing you choose. I once had a woman tell me she saw it on the internet and it sounded good, so she printed it off. She had no idea of the rationale behind each point. Be an informed person. I and my coworkers try our best to give women the birth and hospital experience they want. We are advocates for our patients, not the enemy.

    • Aidan's mom says:

      Agree 100%! I’ve seen such a swing in the 15 (almost 16) years I’ve been doing L&D as a nurse. I love my families and try so hard to help them get the birth they want while achieving the ultimate goal of healthy mom and healthy baby. It’s so hard to care for those who automatically distrust everything I say and do because of something they read on the internet or heard from family and friends. This applies to labor, vaccines, breast feeding, due dates- you name it! I personally prepared for birth and read about it and had ideas as to how it was going to go and so on. I even had him on my chest immediately after birth (9+ years ago). Nothing happened or felt the way I thought it was going to! Not to say it wasn’t a good experience- it was- but reading is NOT the same as experiencing!

    • I have considered it, yes. I haven’t done it get, but considering the amount of traffic my blog has received in the last couple days, I feel like it might be time.

      • Concerned says:

        Please do!
        I was on staff the night you labored & checked on your baby several times after delivery! I am sooooo glad that she is doing ok!!

        I urge to not only inform the organization that certified her, but also please post this on BabyNet. We need to get the word spread about this doula around the community. I have never seen a doula act as she did. I remember hearing that she was crying in the stairwell afterwards because she knew she did so wrong! Honestly, if you would have had a home birth, your baby would have been a lot worse, if not here today. I’m sure you know that though!

        Thank you so much for sharing your story!

      • You are welcome to share it on BabyNet if you’d like. I don’t want to be seen as furthering my personal agenda, but I have no issue with anyone sharing this story anywhere. Thank you for your support!

      • As a Doula, I truly do think you should report this to her certifying organization. It is against our practice to give ANY medical advice at all. Our stance is emotional and physical support. Supporting any decision mom makes. No Doula organization would be able to justify her giving you medical advice that was so clearly wrong. And it would help to prevent her from doing this to other future clients. So sorry you endured this. <3 Thank you for writing this article but emphasizing you still love Doulas. For every 1 rouge Doula there are 10 good ones. <3

      • faerylandmom says:

        Please do so! This is the only way to ensure that this gross misconduct is addressed through the proper channels. Grievance policies are in place to help mothers just like you, and to make sure that doula who are not staying within their scope are not enabled to continue to practice out of bounds.

      • Nicole says:

        Please do! We do not need dangerous people “helping” to bring our most precious gifts into the world! Now is definitely the time!

      • Anonymous says:

        Mama, I am so sorry you have been through all of this. The doula was way out – of – bounds, and doesn’t know what she should at least have basic knowledge about…GD and GBS. I hope the experience with you was a wakeup call to her and she realizes she does not have the knowledge, training or experience to give advice in the way she did. Regardless, I am so glad you are both recovering from the traumas. And we are all blessed that you have shared your story, thank you!

        I wanted to address what ‘Concerned’ said about homebirth. I assume that she does not have experience, or very little, with homebirth or midwives who do homebirth. The comment about you daughter being worse or not here today if you had had a homebirth, to me, was akin to how your doula acted towards you hospital based providers

        I am a homebirth provider, a CPM, and I can assure anyone, including ‘Concerned’, that we do the same testing and bring the birth center with us…which means equipment and two midwives or trained birth assistant to each birth. We do medical evidenced based care…monitoring and blood work during labor, if needed. We may not have even taken you on as a client with your GD.

        There is a lot ignorance regarding homebirth in the traditional medical community so I encourage folks like ‘Concerned’ to make better connections with the homebirth community. They would love to meet you, take you to some appointments, go through their birth bags and talk about the kind of care they give. It is so important not only in order to have a better understanding of what they really do but also for the safety of collaborative care. After all, families will always choose homebirth and midwives will always need to transfer a certain percetge of thier clients so a good mutual respect goes a long way for safety and respecful care.

      • Sweet Caroline says:

        Please, please, please report this person!! Not out of vengeance (although you would certainly be entitled because her advice could have killed your baby), but out of a desire to protect others from her. I would also name her in the blog post. Your story needs to come up when new parents google her so she doesn’t hurt anyone else. She had no business telling you to ignore medical advice. She should have been by your side when you went to the hospital for ROM and kept you company while you got the IV antibiotics you needed. And then to tell you to SUE to delivering doctor? Surely she has to know her own horrible lies would have been on trial too. You guys wouldn’t have lied under oath to protect her.

        I agree that doulas can be a wonderful asset IF they stick to their area of practice and don’t try to dispense awful medical advice.

        Please don’t be too hard on yourself. Your only culpability comes from being too trusting.

      • Toby says:

        As a practicing OB physician, I would strongly encourage reporting of this individual for several reasons. The first being for her own education and accountability. Also, to protect future excited but naive new Moms from her dangerous recommendations. Lastly so that her behavior doesn’t negatively impact the idea of doulas as advocates for the health care professionals and hospitals she interacts with in the future. She sounds like a bit of a bad apple and she shouldn’t be able to spoil it for other cooperative, supportive patient advocates like the doulas I have had the pleasure to work with over the years.

    • Mommy says:

      I am about 99% sure who this doula is just by reading this and she is NOT certified. As far as I know she is not even trained as a doula.

  6. As a birth doula, it pains me so much that you had to go through this awful experience. Thank you for education women on the fact that there are indeed doulas out there that should not be doulaing and essentially have it out for the medical community. I am so glad to hear that you and your daughter are doing well today; that doesn’t make what happened to you okay though. I hope that you continue to find healing in your journey and send you love. <3

  7. Jerirn says:

    I am so sorry for your birthing circumstances ans so glad you had such a beautiful little girl! Your Doula needs to be disciplined, and she is the one who should worry about a lawsuit. I am a NICU nurse, and see this story play out over and over again. I truly believe in creating your individual birth plans, and I agree with making a team with your doctor and Doula. It can work well. Unfortunately, there are too many stories out there about health professionals that are just trying to make a buck. I am sure they are out there, but there are plenty of really good, educated doctors and midwives out there who care about you and your baby. It can take some time, research and interviewing to find the right match, but the payoff is so worth it. I so much appreciate your story and your willingness to get the word out. You may have helped save someone else’s baby’s life (or the mothers life) by bringing this scenario to life. Don’t put too much guilt on yourself. You were misled by someone you trusted in an area you had not experienced yet. We all have to learn, sometimes it is the hard way. I hope that your next birthing experience is wonderful! This time you will have an excited big sister to participate!

  8. Autumn says:

    Geez…this made me a wreck to read as a healthcare professional. Definitely do your own research about anything involving your own body. Make sure you educate yourself before that first doctor visit so you can intelligently converse with your physician and find one who is a good fit for you. Doctors, doulas, midwives, nurses, respiratory therapists(that’s me!)…there’s good and bad in every profession. You have to be an advocate for yourself and your closest loved ones.

    I am so glad your child came through this so lovely, and saying that…I hope you let go of your guilt and are able to see that by your experiences you and your daughter are educating and lifting up so many others. Good luck to you and thank you for sharing.

  9. Thank you so very much for sharing this story. I’m so happy that your daughter is well and I hope that your heart heals fully in time. You do the best you can with what you have and when you have better, you do better. I send you lots of love.

    I’m a doula and it was hard for me to read this story. There have been moments in my own work where I have gone back over the guidance I provided couples re-examining if I had stayed within my scope. It’s something I take very, very seriously. I want you to know that there are hundreds of doulas reading this story and taking it’s lesson very seriously. It is being used as a tool to illustrate what it looks like when a doula steps outside her scope and how that can have very real consequences. Your bravery in sharing this will definitely help us teach doulas to be better which in turn will help families have safer, more rewarding birth experiences. You have given us a gift.

    Thank you again so very much.

  10. As a birth doula this is absolutely horrifying to me. Scope of practice is so so important to me and I thank you so much for offering your story. It is full of warning signs to mom’s that their doula may be practicing out of scope – and that is, as you unfortunately experienced, so very dangerous.

    I am thrilled to hear your baby girl is doing ok!!!!

  11. Manjery says:

    This is truly a touching story. I myself am a Doula and for me when a mother is Group B+ and water breaks first and no contractions I completely agree for mom to be treated with antibiotics…this Doula really violated many many things….we shall work in union with all providers and be the median for the family with an open mind to every possibility…mothers and babies safety shall always be priority…sure we all strive for natural everything, and I am an advocate, but every birth is unique and we all should have the right to birth any way we desire including natural or with assistance….technology and meds are not our enemy….so sorry your Doula could’nt see pass her own desires. Much love and respect to your beautiful family my sweets.

  12. I am so sorry that you had to go through this, and I am so glad that your little one is doing so great! Thank you for sharing your story, as a doula myself, it’s a good reminder of our scope of practice and often when doulas go “rogue” it generally gives all doulas a bad name. I hope that you will consider filing a grievance with whoever she is certified through. I hope that your story will help to remind other doulas that we are here for support not to contradict the medical professionals. Best Wishes!

    • Thank you for your well wishes! I have considered it, yes, and all the feedback from the wonderful doulas like you suggesting I do so has given me more courage. This woman has advanced degrees, decades of experienced, and was a respected lactation consultant in our community. I was too scared of the backlash before. I’m feeling stronger now!

      • Jen says:

        All the more reason to report her. With all that experience, she’s being negligent. Please, please report her. Think of it as protecting others from the potential misdirection that she gave you. This is a trusting relationship that you should be able to have. She seems to be using her “experience” and “degrees” to further her agenda instead of providing objective, professional care.

        My heart was breaking for you as I read your story and I was appalled at her “advice”. *sigh*

        The past is the past and the mightiest sword that you have here is your pen (or keyboard in this case). Your story should be posted everywhere to help educate and alert.

        Much love to you and your sweet girl. Life is about learning and you’ve learned a powerful lesson!

  13. Karen says:

    I’m a prenatal instructor and like others have said, this is full of red-flags for someone in the know, but for anyone like yourself (a first time parent, nevermind a sleep deprived one), I can see how each decision just made sense at the time. Given that you have shared this publicly, I hope to use your story in my class tonight to more clearly illustrate the role of doulas. Thank you for your bravery in sharing. Much compassion coming your way!

  14. rachel says:

    My heart broke for you, we would all make similiar decisions based on the advice you were given. My friend had the shoulder situation as well. Her daughter was on anti-seizure meds, was without oxegen for time but they didnt know exactly how long.. the whole bit. She is 7 years old now and is the highest reader in her class and has absolutely no ill effects of her traumatic birth :)

  15. Shannon says:

    I’m sorry you had such a traumatic birth. I hope that writing out your story helps you to process the experience. Shoulder dystocia can be an extremely hard thing to deal with, especially in light of providers who panic at the time of the event. I’m glad your daughter is doing well.

  16. Oh wow! I bet that was so frightening for you. I’m glad you gals are okay. =( This doula should have some kind of charges against her and others warned from her. She isn’t in this business to be sweet and supportive. She is an abusive control freak who takes advantage of those in vulnerable times and has a nasty god complex. I’m so sorry you went through such scary things and wish you all the best.

  17. Green Tea says:

    I’m so glad you and your baby both are doing well today. I’m so sorry that you were needlessly put through this.

    I agree with what everyone else said. Definitely notify your doula’s certifying body. Most have a code of conduct and code of ethics. Reporting your experience may very well prevent something similar from happening to another family. If nothing else, your doula will be educated about the mistakes she made and hopefully retrained on important things such as advocating for the mother and empowering her to make her own choices under the advisement of her HCP.

    You also mention your doula is an “LC”. Do you mean she is an IBCLC? If so, there is also a code of conduct that IBCLCs must adhere to. It would be worth reporting your experience to IBLCE. If she is NOT an IBCLC, then she is not really an “LC”. She may be a lactation counselor or educator, or any other number of titles that can be earned with a class and a certificate. You can try reporting her to the body that provided her certificate.

    • Anonymous says:

      If she is an IBCLC definitely report her! With her attitude, she could be allowing babies to become dehydrated, failure to thrive, or like the NICU nurse said, aspirate. I would be shocked if she didn’t steer clients to not vaccinate as well. She is a menace and gives a bad name to legitimate doulas and LCs.

  18. First of all, I am so sorry that you had to go through this. I’m also a certified Labor Doula. I think that this doula had strong beliefs in the woman’s ability to birth naturally, but failed to realize that sometimes, we need to use the birth tools that are available to us. What I’ve come to believe is that c sections, epidurals and other interventions are tools. When used appropriately, those tools save lives. What we want to avoid is the overuse or inappropriate use of those tools.I believe that my role is to educate the parents with evidence based information. To give the pros and cons of each procedure so that the parents can make educated choices. I tell them that these are just the first of many choices that they will make as parents. Sometimes the parents make decisions for themselves that I would not make for myself, but it is not my birth. I am there to support the mother’s right to choose. If I choose for her, how is that empowering her? And, I will never go against the doctor’s advice. I am there to be a part of the birth team. I may ask a doctor or midwife “can we try this first”? and with their permission, we try another option to avoid a surgical intervention. I am so glad that this experience did not ruin your opinion of doulas in general. There are many compassionate, educated, certified doulas out there, that I feel, often make a huge difference in the outcome of the births they attended. I will be using your article in the future. Thank you so much for telling your story.

    • Laura says:

      I really enjoyed your response Gaela. As a labor and delivery nurse, it is difficult when the ‘team’ fails to work together. Anytime a member of the team violates the main purpose and will not support the laboring family, there is need for concern. I also feel strongly that all members need to be open to new ideas and allow for the mom to experience an individual labor and delivery unique to her. That being said, I often find the word ‘natural’ used far too often. A natural birth for some women will be a cesarean section and we are challenged to empower the woman to understand they are not a failure when it occurs. We don’t have the loss of women and babies like we have had in the past because there is technology to assist in certain situations that require it. If we educate and provide support, how can there be a poor outcome if we work together?

      • Wanda says:

        I agree entirely with Laura. As a labor and delivery RN for over 30 years, I have seen many changes in the ways deliveries are handled. The major point is this…….everyone should work together for a good outcome for the baby, the mother and the family. Your doula was NOT a medical professional and led you astray and that was not your fault. You need to find a Dr and/or a midwife that you trust and another doula if you choose, but choose carefully, I have seen conflict between the doulas and the doctors, midwives and nurses in a labor setting, it can be almost like a standoff, not pretty. You need to be your own advocate, you are more knowledgeable regarding your situation now and I know that sharing this story was hard. Thank you for doing so. I have worked with many wonderful doctors, midwives, nurses and doulas over the years but there are always bad apples in the bin. Be careful and I hope your next experience is wonderful and that the end result is a happy family and a new healthy baby! I wish the best for you and am extremely happy that your daughter is healthy BUT you do need to report the doula involved to her certifying organization if indeed she was certified at that time. A lawsuit would not be out of line because she was certainly WAY out of line and risked your baby’s life and yours. <3

      • Nancy Kilpatrick, RN,BSN, BA, ACCE-R says:

        I totally agree with Gaela and Laura. Having had 30+ years’ experience as a doula, certified childbirth educator, and L&D nurse, I appreciate the importance of evidence-based practice, and the sacred responsibility and privilege we have as educators and health professionals to make sure that we are doing what is best for our clients who have placed their trust in our expertise – and not our own egos or personal agendas. As a doula, educator, and nurse, I have learned that self-and peer evaluation are essential to good practice. Having a willingness to learn and be teachable is essential – truly, when we stop being teachable, we become ineffective, and, as evidenced by this story that could have had a much sadder outcome, we can also endanger our clients. Thank you for sharing your story with us – may you revel in the love and joy of your sweet baby girl, and let that melt away your pain – all the way down to the very deepest part of your mother heart!. And, may your story serve its intended purpose to help us, as doulas and health professionals alike, always remember to put our client’s well-being first.

      • MaryLou says:

        I don’t think non-intervention is necessarily better, by any stretch. I’ve known women who had great natural births, transformative, lovely. They were lucky. I had a c-section. I felt bad about it. I had a friend who refused the section her doctor recommended, at all costs delivering naturally. She was triumphant, her body did it, doctor be damned. 10 years later I’ve had two more sections and have no lasting health problems. My kids are great. My friend has to have surgery to repair the damage done by her intervention-free birth. She has struggled with pain and incontinence. We’ve been mothers for ten years and with that perspective, the births are pretty unimportant. She wishes she’d just had the section, and I have no regrets. No matter how your birth goes, the real transformative experience is the lifetime of putting another person’s needs before your own. I advise new mothers to the extent that they can to focus on preparing for motherhood more than preparing for birth.

  19. Shanna says:

    As a doula AND a member of the medical field,I am so sorry for your experience. I love when my clients question me and do their own research to verify whatever I say. I’m sorry you were swayed against your mommy gut and wish you the best in future pregnancies!

  20. This story breaks my heart but I’m so glad you and your daughter are doing well now! This may have been a hard thing to write but it’s so important to get good facts out there. Thank you for writing this!

  21. Kentuckymomma says:

    While im glad this story has a happy ending as a momma (a pregnant one at that) who lives in kentucky, i find your story terrifying. Recently i almost hired a “midwife” who claimed to be many things she wasnt. After the death of an infant during labor many truths about her came to light. But if i hadnt found out the truth she COULD have been my provider. Blindly providing “advice” with no medical knowlege to back it up. I worry how many other woman are blindly following this doulas advice as we speak and putting not only thier own but thier childs life at risk too. I urge you, if you wont release the doulas info in your story please report her in some manner.

  22. Just one more doula that urges you too file a report. You may save another Mom from a less than stellar birth experience and a possible tragedy.
    I know this can be a difficult decision to make, but it is in the best interest of other Moms, Babies and Doulas.
    What a blessing for you and your family, that your lovely little girl is well! I am so sorry that you had this experience and commend you for not letting it deter you in future births. You are a brave woman to share your story! Peace and Light!

  23. This is absolutely horrifying and a reason women need to ensure they are doing research and know about their doula before hiring. Many doulas choose to not certify through an organization so there isn’t a way for consumers to voice concern and the doula has absolutely nothing to lose if she acts out of scope. I’ve heard stories like these before from our area (KY) and I just wanted to let you know I am proud of you for speaking up. So many women keep silent and refuse to share their experience so widely. To those choosing to hire a doula, please do your homework! Ask for references, ensure she is affiliated with someone well known in the community, assure she is certified and working toward certification and lastly make sure the organization is reputable! Aubrey, I would love to communicate further with you. I left all of my information in the field boxes. If you can’t see it I would be glad to post it here in the comments as well.

  24. This just breaks my heart. I’m a trained doula and it is very clear that we can’t and never should give medical advice! I always make sure my clients look up the information and make the decisions themselves. I send links all the time to them. As a doula, we are there for emotional, physical and informational support. Nothing else. No medical advice, and technically shouldn’t even give our opinions.
    Doctors or any care providers are not the enemy. Like you said they should be a partner on you birth team. Unfortunately I know a doula that would act like yours did. She actually hasn’t been trained and is fairly new.
    I think an important part in interviewing a doula or anyone on your birth team is to make sure they have the same views on birth and will respect the whole team.
    As for the shoulder distorcia, that dr and midwife should have been able to detect it :-(
    And as for reporting that doula, you should. And if she is not certified, see if she is on doulamatch.com and give your testimonial on her page. People should know this stuff. Good and bad. Also if you haven’t already, maybe write her an email. She can’t get better if she doesn’t know she did anything wrong.
    I am so glad to hear that you and Joely are doing well. I hope and pray that your next birth (when ever that may be) will be a better experience. And I’m glad you still have faith in us doulas.
    love and peace.

    • Vicki Duncan, MD says:

      What a terrifying situation, but thank you so much for sharing. As an obstetrician for the last 30 years, I have seen a few bad doulas, but the majority were excellent, truly serving their clients. May I recommend that any woman choosing to use a doula BRING HER TO YOUR APPOINTMENT, let your MD or CNM meet her ahead of time. If your doc or midwife senses potential problems, please listen. I’ve always asked my patients to trust that I will do my absolute best to give them all the info needed to make a good decision, but in an emergency I may not have time for a detailed discussion. If you can’t feel that trust after a couple of appointments, you might consider switching providers.
      Lastly, an experienced MD or CNM may NOT be able to predict shoulder dystocia – if we could, the number of cases would be drastically smaller. We are, however, well trained on what to do to minimize damage to your baby. Dystocia can occur with normal-sized babies as well as with large ones.
      Thank you for allowing me to vent on your site. I thank God that your baby appears to be doing well, in spite of a horrible start. God bless you!

  25. Sarah says:

    As a career nurse and now a grandma and doula, my emotions ran all over the place when reading your story…horror and dread as I realized the course of your experience, fear for you, your hubby and your daughter, disbelief (and again horror) that a doula would so grossly overstep her role, compassion for the situation (you needing guidance an accepting and trusting that the guidance you were getting was accurate) and once I read that your daughter is healthy and happy, great relief and joy. I hope that the upside of this horrific experience is that we all learn from it. I will, with your permission, site this blog, and, if I may print, it to use in client education when appropriate. Blessings to you and your family.

  26. Aubrey, I remember you posting when Joely was born and feeling like someone punched me. I know all of us were praying for a miracle and were SOOOO relieved when it happened.
    You are truly a brave and amazing woman and I am beyond happy you decided to share such a personal and heartbreaking story (that thankfully has a wonderful ending). I hope people learn from your experience and become more informed. Doulas are a great resource, but like everything, knowledge is key.
    It has been a pleasure seeing Joely grow and thrive and what a wonderful momma you are.

  27. Thank you for sharing this. I too am a birth doula trainer and I remind all the doulas I train that they do nothing medical or even give advice. What still worries me is when doulas will post a clients’ personal decisions on FB and then post, ‘Not my birth, not my birth”- it shouldn’t even be a consideration especially if they are sharing someone elses’ choices. Moms need education and support and to use their instincts for what is right for them, but they must also be mindful of the birth memory and that you can still have a lovely unmedicated birth in a hospital, and not let a doula take over like this. She most definitely should be reported to her certifiying organization. So glad things worked out well for you all.

  28. Thank you… thank you thank you thank you for sharing this. I will be bringing up your story in my natural childbirth classes. I hope sharing helped you, because it will certainly help others.

    ps… I have spent a somewhat embarrassing amount of time in your archives now… you have gained a stalker, grats! I’m also 29, savoring my final 6 months of my 20′s, wrestling with PCOS, have had 3 GD pregnancies… and am a long time blogger very willing to share stuff that a lot of women choose not to (I read your first post, and I was like… YES). I am thoroughly enjoying your writing.
    corilynngentry.blogspot.com
    http://www.corigentry.com

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’m so sorry for such a traumatic birth!! As a doula myself I would never give a mother medical advice or talk back to a doctor. I hope you report this doula soon because that is not what we practice. A mother once asked me for medical advice and I told her that medical is not my field that she should ask her doctor. I am happy that everything went well at the end and you have a happy beautiful baby girl :-)

  30. Kristin says:

    Thank you for sharing! I am so glad she is okay. There are many people that like to give advice that shouldn’t, but especially in that role you need to be careful.
    @ concerned above and the comment ” Honestly, if you would have had a home birth, your baby would have been a lot worse, if not here today. ” is very misinformed. As a student midwife that has attended over 80 out of hospital births (and I am sure others more experienced than I could say), it would not have been worse. A trained midwife would have sent her to the hospital a lot earlier than she went and not hidden when the water broke.
    I am thrilled of the outpouring of support in the comments you have received. That was a hard thing to do to open yourself to the public. I am praying your next birth is exquisitely wonderful :) !

    • Anion says:

      @Kristin, so you’re saying, “If you’d had a homebirth it would have been great because you would have been in the hospital?” In other words, “If you’d had a homebirth, you would have needed to not be at home.” Okay.

      The doula wasn’t talking about what might have happened if a midwife had been attending this labor from the beginning (and remember, it was because of the doula’s advice that they did not seek prompt medical care; remember, too, how many instances there are and have been of midwives doing exactly what the doula did). She very specifically said things would have been great if the baby had been born at home. That is patently and obviously untrue, and @concerned is exactly right: had they not gone to the hospital, they might very well have lost that beautiful baby girl.

      Greatminuseight, thank you for sharing your story, and please do report it. There are wonderful doulas out there–as we see in the comments here–and they deserve the chance to enforce the guidelines of their profession and protect their reputations from damage caused by those acting outside those guidelines. And there are other women out there who deserve to make educated, informed choices when it comes to choosing a doula, and they should know that this one is reckless and foolish, gambling with the lives of mothers and babies to suit her own agenda.

  31. Jen W says:

    As a L&D nurse, I have a lot of strong opinions about this, and could go on and on.
    The most important line in your post is “Know your limits.” The majority of labors I see come in with a midwife or doula, come way too late.

    I am so sorry to hear about your trauma, and I am glad you and baby are okay. I am glad you recognize the hospital staff did everything they could to help. With so many anti-hospital stories out there, it’s great to hear the other side.

  32. Leia says:

    As a doula, this was incredibly hard to read. I am so sorry that this was your experience. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been sending this link to all of the doulas I know, as a reminder of how important our scope of practice truly is. Thank you for bravely sharing your story.

  33. First I want to thank you for bravely putting your experience out for everyone to learn from.

    I am also a Birth Doula and I see many ways this Doula and others have acted in the Doulas own interestsbor agenda and far outside the scope of practice of Doula support.

    There are a lot of us who are great Doulas and we make great additions to a birth team, playing a supporting role that defers to the star players (mom, dad, baby, and medical experts). I know your next Doula will not be looking to be the star as your last one was, but ready to be a supporting cast member for your family and medical team.

  34. As a doula, I’m deeply saddened to see how many ways your doula let you down. She stepped way out of scope so many times, it’s truly horrible.

    Also as a doula, I’m upset that her actions reflect on us as a whole. I promise we are all not like this. I’m truly sorry.

    If you’d like to further reflect, I offer myself as a listening ear. You have my email if you’d like to chat further.

    Your baby is truly beautiful, and I hope that you are able to get the support you deserve to make up for the support that was truly misguided.

  35. I was diagnosed with GD with my 4th baby and I had a planned home birth with a trained midwife. I really liked the reasoning she gave about my situation being low risk for the home birth. She said that I should control my blood sugars and log it every day. I got a glucometer and tested 5 times a day and I controlled my blood sugars. Had I not, I would have “risked out” of having a home birth. He was born at 39 weeks and weighed 8 pounds. Position was a factor. Hands and knees. Although in my situation I was GBS negative. It was the most memorable and enjoyable birth (I’ve had 5) I have ever experienced. Mostly because I did not have to deal with the hospital environment. The common sense theory is that if you control your blood sugars then you should not have a very large baby. It’s the high blood sugars that make large babies and then in turn cause things like shoulder dystocia. That Doula was so out of line and really didn’t know what she was talking about. Lesson learned, Never take medical advise from your doula. Also, there is no guarantee that being treated with antibiotics would have prevented the babies infection. The problem was the ruptured membranes for so long. Another stupid suggestion by this doula. I am so glad that your daughter is okay and that you are more or less intact. Might want to add that delivering on your back is the worst position to give birth in. But I do understand that it was an emergency to get her out. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Anonymous says:

      I had a 9lb 6oz baby at 38 weeks with my 3rd baby, and had diet-controlled GDDM. I was the picture perfect gestational diabetic, with probably 97% of my sugars well within range. So low sugars do not necessarily = smaller baby. Be careful, be informed, trust your gut.

  36. As so many other wonderful women have already said, we aren’t all like that! And yes, you should report her. To everyone you can think of. In fact, if she is certified with one of the “main” groups (DONA, CAPPA, etc), I would report her to the other she is not certified with as well, as a warning. Doulas are not regulated, so there is nothing to stop her from certifying with another group if she loses her certification through one.

    I want to go a bit further and thank you. Sharing this is brave, incredibly brave. As you said, she is well respected in the community. You are standing up to someone who is using her position of authority to subtly pressure women into her idea of birth. You are not just standing up for yourself. But also for all the women after you who might have hired her, and all the women before you who were harmed by this woman. That is not just courageous, it is also inspiring.

    Your daughter is beautiful, I’m so glad your story has a happy ending.

  37. I’m so glad your story had a happy ending. I’m so sorry for what your doula allowed you to go through. GBS is a VERY serious bacteria. We in the GBS community are driven by stories like these, ones who show that certain groups still don’t and unfortunately may never understand how serious decisions like the ones she instructed you to follow are. I’m so thankful the doctors and nurses were there and send love and blessings to your family!

  38. Hi mama! I just wanted to thank you for telling your story. My son was injured at birth (he was injured by pitocin and a failed vacuum extraction) by an OB that apparently didn’t know his ass from a hole in the wall. My son was brow presentation and he didn’t realize, hence the injuries. I was also in KY at the time. Anyway – I have walked the path of fear, frustration, guilt, etc. I am sorry that you have had to go down this road. It has been a long one for me of growing and learning to forgive myself and others too. Big hugs. I am glad your daughter is ok – babies are amazing and when they have moms that will see that they are loved and get good care they can overcome a ton.

    PS – I had a natural, hospital VBAC 6 weeks ago with an amazing support team. It was an awesome experience though it will never change my son’s birth. Good luck to you in the future. I pray that you have a completely different experience next time.

  39. Laura says:

    So sorry this happened to you, and so glad things turned out again. The actions of one doula, who was completely out of line and not an example of how the majority of us practice, caused problems that never should have occurred. A doula is NOT a medical professional, but someone who is there to support you in YOUR choices. Best of luck to you and your daughter.

  40. Pam says:

    I wanted to tell you I applaud you for writing about this and can only guess how scary it can be to do so. It’s so important to hear stories like this to inform people and encourage them to be more realistic and cautious. Sadly, your story is not alone. I’ve read so many stories about birth attendants being like your doula, often with disastrous consequences. This is the first story I’ve heard about a doula being this way, all the ones I’ve read were about midwives that behaved in the same manner.

    For years, I was overboard crunchy but it was my daughter’s transfer from a birth center in an ambulance for an emergency c-section that started my changing the way I think about birthing. When she was taken away, we didn’t know if our granddaughter was okay or not. Thank goodness she had a midwife that put the health of my daughter and granddaughter above anything else. I was very anti-hospital for years but have changed my mind about that as well, though I understand some hospitals are better than others. To me now though, the ultimate goal is to have a healthy mom and baby, hospital birth or not.

    I firmly believe your “doula” needs to be outed to somebody. Somebody that can stop her. If she was like that with you chances are she has been/will be like that with someone else. Someone else who may not have the successful outcome you have had.

    Your daughter is beautiful and I’m so happy she’s doing well.

    I wish you peace.

    ps: Please try not to blame yourself, although I know it’s hard. When you know better, you do better.

    Hugs,
    Pam

  41. Stephanie says:

    I didn’t read the comments but I’m sure there are many doulas who are expressing their sadness that this happened to you as I will now. As a doula I’m am truly sorry this happened to you. We are most certainly not trained to give medical advice and should respect that. Most of us do. I’m so happy you have your beautiful daughter with you and healthy. May peace be with you on your healing journey.

  42. badaza says:

    Thank you for your story. We hear so many stories of doctors pushing their own agendas on pregnant and laboring women… but it’s important to remember that the “crunchy” side of the discussion isn’t immune to making the same mistake. I’m very anti-doctor for my next pregnancy (which would be a VBAC, and I heard noises of “You shouldn’t have a VBAC” mere days after the birth of my son, from the OB intern), except in case of utmost necessity. Still, I’ll need to be careful not to be so anti-establishment that I fall in the opposite spectrum and sacrifice my child’s well-being to my idea of a “perfect birth”. I’m keeping your blog post in my “Next Pregnancy” folder, as a cautionary tale to remember down the line.

    • Maureen Stackhouse says:

      To “badaza”. VBAC’s are greatly encouraged where I live but if greatly depends on the reason for the first C/Section. Some women’s pelvic dimensions will not allow even the smallest of babies to come through. If it was malposition, breech presentation, baby’s intolerance to labour or the mother’s medical condition at the time, there should be no reason not to encourage a VBAC the second time around. Your doctor will know what type of c/s was done and if there were any complications that would make labouring dangerous to you and baby. Keep in mind there are risk factors but the medical staff will monitor yours and the baby’s condition to ensure everyone’s safety.

  43. Ana Cris says:

    I understand how mad you are with the results of your birth, but I must say your doula nas nothing to do with it. I’m a midwife and I work with 8 doctors who have less than 20% of cesareans. For GBS for example, they wait from 12 to 24 hours after water is released, before going to hospital to take ATB. They ask moms to wait at least active birth to head to the hospital. What seams to me is that, after the doctor became the hero, doula became de vilain. I’ve seen this happen after almost all bad outcomes: we must blame someone. And when we decide who is the one to blame, all the history transforms into another totally different thing. I can bet my licence that the doula’s version iw absolutely different. And I’d love to hear her version!

    • I’m not really sure what other “version” there could be. I took pains to be as factual and non-biased as possible.

      The fact is, this woman was passing her anecdotal advice, which was factually incorrect, off as medical information. And truth be told, I have now learned that, after advertising as a DONA-certified doula, she lost her certification in 2006, and has been advertising as if she were still certified.

      I think it’s awfully presumptuous of you to assume that there’s another story behind it. And very typical of those who are anti-medical. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, however misguided they may be.

      And obviously, there are plenty of doulas and midwives who have commented who realize the severity of the situation, including nurses who were on staff at the hospital that day and professionals who were around during the birth and while my daughter was in the NICU. They all state that this woman is at fault.

      • Wanda says:

        Ana Cris, I must say that your being a practicing midwife astounds me, considering what you have said. I am an L&D RN with 31 years experience and your explanation to this wonderful lady telling her story and trying to help others is WAY out of line. OF course, the doula’s story is going to be different, she was wrong in every way possible and after giving bad advise to her own client, who would not expect her to lie when telling her side of the story? Yes, when there is a bad outcome, there is always the need to blame someone…………greatminuseight has every reason to blame the doula in this situation.

      • Libby says:

        Greatminuseight your reply to Ana Cris was certainly more measured than mine might have been… I agree with Wanda!
        As a pediatrician and mother I am also sickened by what happened to you as a result of the unethical behavior of that doula.
        Ana Cris I have been in practice for almost 30 years – and remember all too painfully many babies lost or permanently damaged by GBS disease in the years prior to the initiation of aggressive proactive antibiotic therapy for GBS positive mothers. Any OB practitioner who delays intrapartum therapy is playing roulette with baby’s health. (And mothers as well as chorioamnionitis can be devastating for mom)
        And I am not sure who commented on the poor advice of an “OB intern” – I would strongly recommend consulting a provider with more experience – an intern has only just finished medical school, by definition no more than a year ago – perhaps only a few weeks! Talk with the attending before making any important decisions.
        I thank you for your careful thoughtful sharing of this painful traumatic experience. I hope the doula has stopped giving unethical advice (lie to the doctor – unreal!) and stopped her illegal practice of flawed medicine. I applaud you for following your instincts and seeking help and care that didn’t fit your original plan in time to have a positive outcome.
        Good luck – enjoy your girl!

      • MM says:

        As a reply to Libby, have you considered that the OB intern was present at time of labor and delivery and is already aware of a particular reason that the patient has absolute contraindications to TOLAC? The intern might have seen the patient’s tremendously fibroid-laden uterus, the proportions of her pelvis, some reason for which an incision other than low transverse was made. While I agree that it would be wise to speak to an attending first before making the decision for TOLAC or against TOLAC, I feel IF the intern IS aware of such issues that make it an absolute contraindication, it was magnificent advice. As I’m sure you are WELL aware, patients (and in your case, family members) aren’t always forthcoming with all of the information needed to make a sound medical judgment about their condition, and often times fail to include essential pieces of information. If records aren’t available, the only hope she might have to avoid a horrifying outcome is if she happens to mention “but this doctor told me I shouldn’t ever VBAC”… which could lead to a discussion about the reason the intern gave, which might not have ever been remembered by the patient had he or she not made a big deal about it to the patient.

    • Wanda says:

      You are the first response to this lady’s story that has sickened me. I am not sure you should be a midwife. I have 31 years of experience with doctors, midwives and doulas. I find it hard to believe that you are questioning this story.

    • RPCVmama27 says:

      Something is seriously wrong with you. You’re the only person here who clearly doesn’t understand the scope of what happened. And given your writing skills, I highly doubt you are a certified midwife, as you can’t even spell…. something about that sets off alarm bells to me, and I think you just troll to make trouble.

    • K. C Riley says:

      I deeply sympathize and express my sadness at your birth experience and for being so brave as to share your birth experience. This is such a traumatic event and your path of integrating this huge disappouintment is of paramount importance. I also would like to hear the doulas experience and seek resolution between the parties. Power can be given to anyone else once we take it away from ourselves. This is done with doctors, midwives, doulas, Chidbirth educators etc. There are many global medical protocols that are evidence based and even the best providers do not always follow the newest or even the most effective evidence. I have seen nurses be under educated in some evidence based practices as well as doulas and even patients. There is a fine line. When reading this I sense that there was lots of information that could be skewed. On each end. Shoulder dystocia cannot be fully predicted. I wonder what the fetal monitors were picking up during pushing and how the attending doctor explained this presentation to your family? It seems that communication failed within your caregiving team on multiple/numerous levels. I truly admire your commitment to forgiveness and healing. Thank you for your courage.

      • My doctor never would have allowed it, had she been aware. She was phenomenal, and not at all to blame in the outcome of my birth. She urged me in the right direction at all points in my pregnancy, and had I listened, the outcome would have been different.

    • I’m really not sure how you came to this conclusion and I’d LOVE to meet a doctor that suggests waiting 12-24hrs with a GBS+ mama. I’ve NEVER heard that.

    • Sweet Caroline says:

      B freaking S. The NCB true-believers really converge around their own, don’t they? How on earth can you defend a non-medical professional who dispenses dangerous medical advice? How? How can you advocate LYING to care providers? HOW??

      Her version is probably “evil intervention-happy hosptial totally ruined the perfect birth. It would have been fine at home in a birth pool with some herbs and oils.” Of course, when the baby didn’t live, she would have shrugged and said “some babies aren’t meant to live.”

  44. Thank you for sharing your birth story. I am a doula-in-training myself and had many bells going off as I read what your doula kept telling you. I am grateful for your warnings and will be extra cautious to never give medical advice. My role is encourage and support my mamas and help them find answers for themselves if they have questions. I am sorry you had such a poor experience with your doula. Lots of love to you! <3

  45. Thank you for sharing. As a Certified Doula and Doula Trainer and also with a medical background, I highly encourage you to contact your doula’s certifying organization. Your information can potentially save another persons life.

      • Wow! I am always shocked when people lie. I guess I shouldn’t be, but I usually expect the best out of people. How sad that she said she was certified but was not. Thank you for calling and checking up on this. Do you mind sharing what state are delivered in?

  46. Jami says:

    As a NICU nurse my heart sunk with every new piece of the puzzle you related … GD babies can be quite large and have many problems… GBS is truly the scariest thing I’ve seen…. I’ve seen babies die within a few hrs without prenatal antibiotics… The fact you had so much trouble pushing her out and the fact she got stuck…… And the neurological signs…. All together these scare the hell out this 28 year NICU nurse.! The fact that the NICU cooled her head is probably why she has done so well and I applaud you for agreeing! I’ve seen babies that had almost flat EEGs come back with near normal EEGs and little residual effects. This doula went way beyond her scope of practice and is the one responsible! I am so glad your daughter is doing well and pray that with your future pregnancies you find a competent doula to work with your OB to give you the best experience… safely!!

  47. Doula/Mom/BLM says:

    I am a doula. Midwifery student. And a mother who lost a baby to Group B – similar situations. My heart goes out.

  48. Tiffany says:

    So So So proud of you for sharing this!!! It was beautifully written, and is such a powerful cautionary tale to other mama’s. Love you & Miss Joely. For-reals :-)

  49. I work in labour and delivery as an RN and unfortunately have witnessed similar things happen. I can’t go into great detail as I would breach patient confidentiality but I’ve witnessed many near misses with doulas where they act like we are the anti-christ. Your story absolutely breaks my heart and I’m so glad the outcome is good. While reading this my blood pressure just rose. It sickens me to read this and to think what could have happened. I really think you should consider reporting her or at least naming her so that others do not use her and end up in a similar or worse outcome. Thank you for being brave and sharing your story. Yes the hospital is medicalized but we really want the best for the baby and for the mom and yes at the end of the day it’s about having a healthy mom and baby, it’s not about what the doula wants. It’s about having a healthy mom and baby. I wish you luck in the future with other pregnancies. Thank you again for sharing your story.

    Agi:)

    vodkainfusedlemonade.com

  50. do report her to hopefully safe someone else from going through what you went through and maybe having a worse outcome. As a 20+ yr L&D nurse I too have seen good and bad doulas (and nurses and MDs). You have to choose what’s best for you but also be fully informed with lots of research. Glad things are good now.

  51. Bud says:

    I’m the husband of a certified doula and I always tell people that a doula needs to know her place. If your doula was certified (which would be surprising – she may be trained but not certified) then I believe you have a moral obligation to report her to the certifying organization. i can guarantee you’re not the first and won’t be the last.

  52. I’m so sorry that you had this experience! Thank you for sharing your story. What a beautiful daughter, thank goodness she is well! As a doula myself, I cringed reading this, immediately recognizing the many ways your doula stepped waaaaay out of her scope of practice. Stories like this damage the perception of our valuable profession. A doula’s role is to help you gather information, empower you and support your decisions, not put you at odds with your caregivers. I’m so sad this happened.

    Blessings and health to you and your family, brave mama!

  53. db says:

    I commend you also for sharing your story. We have at least 1 doula that frequently oversteps her boundaries and we have had a few patients come in after attempting home deliveries. Not all end bad, but the risk is so high. The ultimate desire is a healthy mom and baby so I don’t understand why a few women get so caught up in having “the perfect birth.” I get so tired of only reading the “sunshine & roses” home birth stories on line. Things can go bad very quickly in or out of the hospital. Glad to hear your precious baby is doing so well and I pray she continues to do well. It is amazing what cooling does.

    15 years L&D — I love a great doula

  54. Caring doctor says:

    Thank you for writing this. I am an Ob resident physician and really believe in the power of doulas and had my own prenatal care with midwives. I have seen more than a few times patients be confused about the role of doulas and the breadth of their medical knowledge. Your essay made me cry because I have seen so many sweet first time moms be led into thinking that doctors are against natural birth and patients’ choices. I care deeply for my patients and their children and I have seen a lot of terrible outcomes, which may make me more careful than a lay midwife but I think first time moms may not realize the stakes of their choices. Thank you again, this is beautiful.

  55. Confused says:

    I’m very happy that you and your daughter are ok and there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damage.

    I read the blog post but not all of the comments but something is fishy here… Did you not do research for yourself about things your doctor or your doula told you especially when you were getting contradictory information from them?

    Also I’m assuming that you looked up what a doula was and their role in the birth before you hired said doula. How is it that you followed the doula on so many accounts that was clearly outside the given role of a doula if you knew what a doula was suppose to provide?

    This is not to negate your experience or the fact the the doula was clearly unethical and not following proper protocol on the responsibilities of a doula. She clearly had her own agenda in the care she “provided”.

    I just don’t understand how you and your husband could have been so naive to follow anyone’s every word without doing your own homework. If you did do your own homework, why did you still follow her?

    • We did lots of homework within the confines of the “natural birthing” community. We read a lot of Ina Gaskin’s materials, which are wonderful. Honestly, the research we did was so extremely biased against interventions that we trusted our doula, who provided many of the materials in the first place.

      We were fools, basically. We saw what we wanted to see in the research we did, which is why both my husband and I felt the need to bring this situation to light. It is very possible to do research and come to the same conclusions we did… Dangerous ones.

      • another mom says:

        There is a place in birth for natural births, a place for home birth, a place for hospitals, interventions, for OB’s and Midwives. A good doula comes in as a team player and doesn’t tell you what to do. A good doula looks with you at the big picture. She or he will look at all options with you, and tell you to discuss them with your care provider. A good doula will encourage you to talk to your provider and hopes to facilitate an open and honest relationship between you. A good doula realizes you own your birth experience and not her. A good doula tells you to follow your own instincts – because the mother always knows best. Sometimes birth does not work out as we plan for it to. Plans change, and there has to be flexibility and a willingness to go with that. I am sorry for your pain. It seems like a hard experience all around. I hope your next birth experience leads you to the right person if you decide to hire another doula and brings about healing to you. Keep in mind, that many uncertified doulas are not rogue but simply choose to follow a traditional path of being mentored. There are many organizations that reflect different points of view. Certification is not the be all and the end all of making a doula good , sadly, as your experience has shown. I hate to see a lot of great but uncertified doulas get lumped in as somehow being rogue. Again, I am so sorry for your experience. It is good for you to let it out and talk about it here. Best wishes.

      • Peds doc says:

        I just want to clarify something, YOU DID NOT DO ANY RESEARCH!!! You just read a bunch of junk on the internet. True research begins with an unbiased question and gathering information in an unbiased fashion. You stayed focused on reading within the confines of the natural birthing communities!
        All of the doctors and nurses involved did an amazing job in saving both you and your daughter! You and your doula put the medical team in an unfair situation and they were lucky that they accomplished what they did. They are trained professionals who spent years studying and training. They are good people who have the best intentions for you and your baby. In your pursuit of a “natural birth,” you violated a doctor patient relationship. You had an unfair bias going into your pregnancy against the medical establishment. The medical community now has an unfair bias against you! Good luck finding a medical team to trust you on your next baby!
        The field of obstetrics was created because “natural birth” can be deadly. If you stuck to nature, your girl would be dead. Keep an open mind for your next baby. I heard about a group of people who do wonderful things for mothers and babies and they aren’t called doulas- they are called doctors and nurses!
        I’ve read a lot of people’s comments about sueing your doula because she is to blame. No, you are the one to blame. You went in biased against what is now conventional medicine and you found a “yes man” in your doula. You were self absorbed with your own personal agenda for what? Bragging rights to blog about your crunchy, natural birthing experience? Just stupid. YOU ignored medical advice. If you somehow forgive yourself, don’t EVER forget what you did!

      • I agree. I absolutely made a momentous mistake. That is why I posted this… To warn other moms who may be considering taking a similar path.

        I cannot admit my own folly enough. My poor decision making almost killed my daughter, and her amazing do toes in the NICU saved her life. Sum up? Don’t make the mistakes I did.

      • badaza says:

        Wow, Peds doc, you’re coming on a bit strongly. I’m sure this mom has learned her lesson, no need to pile on.

        She’s written this post exactly for the reasons you condemn her for: so other people do not become so mired in a “perfect birth” that they forget to look at objective information. Doulas can be invaluable, saving mothers from unnecessary interventions, helping with pain management, providing a much needed coach partner to the husband (they could relay one another if needed).

        Medicalized birth can be deadly, as evidenced by the US death rate surrounding labor and birth. Doctors can (and, in some cases, do) make decisions based on their fears of complications or their convenience (it’s no coincidence that the rate of c-section goes up on Friday afternoons, holiday eves and holidays) instead of using medical and research evidence. They can (and, in some cases, do) present themselves as holders of the absolute truth, infallible and always right.

        This particular doula was as bad as a doctor using scare tactics to force a woman into an unwanted c-section (or, worse, a repeat c-section). She robbed her of a birth that was not as traumatic (although maybe less natural).

        I repeat: doctors and nurses can do wonderful things. Doulas too. Doctors, nurses and doulas can also do awful things. They are human, and some people are good, some are bad and some have good intentions that turn to bad advice/decisions.

      • Aidan's mom says:

        Ina May Gaskin is amazing to read! Pioneering in so many ways! She also developed a good working relationship with the medical community early on as support and back-up when needed. I wish we could teach a class to parents on how to discern if what you read is good, scientifically sound, evidence-based information.

    • Sweet Caroline says:

      Way to blame the victim. There is so much misinformation out there about childbirth that makes it sound like any intervention is the devil. It is entirely understandable that people without a medical background get led astray. The problem is with the doula who almost killed this baby – not the innocent parents who trusted.

  56. As a midwife and doula trainer, (I also work as a doula), this is a horrifying story. I am so sorry you had this experience. My 2nd book, ‘Doulas-why every pregnant woman deserves one’, offers a list of questions to ask a potential doula and what answers you should be getting! This was clearly about the doula and what she wanted. It would be interesting to know what her history is with doctors etc. I’m pleased to hear you are enjoying motherhood. Keep up the good work.

  57. I reported a doula two weeks ago for posting anti-vaccination material on her Facebook page. I warned her she was operating out of her scope of practice but she didn’t take it down. So I called the Australian College of Doulas who said there were no warnings for this, they would not be renewing her membership. They take these complaints very seriously. So many doulas trying to improve the quality of care for women and babies, so many doulas willing to work hand in hand with the medical community, and sooo many doulas ruining it for the rest of them.

    • lnln says:

      Were you a longtime follower of this doula and knew for a fact that she also has not posted other vaccination-related content with less bias in the past? It feels like you may have crossed a boundary by reporting a doula just for “sharing” an article on facebook. The way timelines are set up, it can also be hard to see the other content they are posting, which may very well contain multiple vaccination viewpoints, which is VERY well within a doula’s scope (and should absolutely be occurring!) A doula should be sharing multiple sources so that clients can make informed decisions. I also guess I don’t see simply hitting “share” as giving medical advice–otherwise any shared article about any disease or pregnancy issue would have to be considered medical advice as well. Posts shared on prenatal yoga would have to be removed since the doula is not a care provider who can approve an exercise regimen. Posts on healthy foods would need to be removed since a doula is not a dietician, etc etc. There would be no posts left. Facebook is a sharing medium, not necessarily a declaration of credentials with each post. I hope the doula certifying organization takes this into account.

    • Sarah says:

      I don’t think copying an article to Facebook is giving medical advice. I view it as showing a perspective, which the reader is neither coerced or advised to follow. I hope the doula also posted the opposite perspective, as that would be more complete information. In this situation I do not believe a report to College of Doulas was appropriate.

  58. I’m sorry you’ve had this experience and happy to hear your daughter is doing so well.
    I am an IBCLC, and if she was truly a lactation consultant at the time, it sounds like a complaint should also be filed with our board based on her behavior in the NICU. Here is the website with information on how to do that: http://iblce.org/resources/disciplinary-procedures/ Here is the link to the current registry to verify certification: http://iblce.org/resources/iblce-registry/

  59. Kerry says:

    I’m so sorry you and your baby had such a rough birth! I have a story that’s not nearly as bad – but similar – my last birth was a planned hospital transfer from midwifery care – my first three were born at home. My youngest had some complications that warranted a transfer and when I told the story of his birth a doula friend immediately blamed the doctor for the birth trauma. I am as big a natural birth advocate as you’ll find but we’d already ruled out home as a safe place to birth Sam and had decded to have him at a birth centre in town – as a mom who had precipitous labours (my third was born unassisted because his labour was about 15 minutes long from the point I realized I was in labour) and a labour marked by malpresentation – saw a chiro to have the webster technique done to flip him from breech at 40 weeks 5 times, and then going past dates 2 weeks our decision to move to hospital was made with the concern that if I went into labour and baby was in a breech position and I had to catch him alone we might have a terrible outcome – my midwives biggest concern was a cord prolapse. So he was induced. He flipped transverse during active labour and the OB did an external version, when my waters broke there was as predicted by my homebirth midwives a cord prolapse, and he was delivered with the help of a ventouse extractor. The delivery was traumatic – 3rd degree tears, his collarbone broken in the rush to get him out as fast as possible, and a broken tailbone and herniated disc for me from the brutal position I was wrenched in to get as much pressure off the cord as possible. Despite the induction and the pitocin I laboured without any pain medications and I still have sensory memories of the ventouse (which left scarring inside too). But my “automatic c-section” baby was born vaginally with perfect apgars because I had a skilled OB who had plenty of practice with difficult vaginal births from orking in developing nations. I think my OB is amazing. But this doula friend could only see that I wasn’t sitting on a birth ball when my waters broke and claims that caused the cord prolapse. She wasn’t even there and even with all the *warning signs* that I mentioned above she sat there proclaiming that everything would have been just fine if I’d just had a homebirth.

  60. Kate Abbott says:

    As a 15 year doula and IBCLC I feel I must comment on many aspects of the story and what conclusions I have come to in my own practice.
    Many books, blogs, midwives, doulas and childbirth educators have one thing in common- they paint the medical caregivers and technology as the enemy.
    It’s become so extreme that there is no middle ground! I found out personally the effects of this while attending a home birth where I trusted the midwife more then I may have trusted a doctor, let my guard down and didn’t give my client the very needed objective possible choice that maybe they should consider a transfer. Of course I would bring it up as just a question they may want to explore, certainly not offering advice. Because in that case, like so many, the transfer was too late. I didn’t speak up and hindsight is 20/20. But everyone involved saw the hospital as enemy number 1.
    Big egos are usually at play at births. I see L&D’s who have extreme needs to be right as well as doctors, IBCLC ‘s etc. The bottom line is always to support my client to make a decision based on what the caregiver is saying, their own research and answers to their questions. Never ever should a doula give advice.
    It can be a very thin line. What has not been said here is how to answer when the client says “what do you think”? The answer should contain information you know based on research, their doctors advice, the parents intuition and own research.
    They should ALWAYS be the ones making the decisions and speaking them.
    A doula needs to error on the side of safety and caution and leave her agenda out of it. A good doula takes a literal step back when doctor , nurse, or midwife enters.
    She defers to them, helps the client ask questions, does not gossip about the caregivers choices.
    And then rub some feet, do a double hip squeeze and keep it zipped.
    I personally think of myself as DON’Tla not DOla.
    Thanks for educating us!

  61. Renee says:

    As a professional in the NICU I could tell where your story was going from the very beginning. Do not trust people who dole out medical advice and don’t have the education to back it up! OB docs are there to see that you and your baby are healthy throughout the pregnancy. I have been in deliveries with similar stories just like yours but with very bad outcomes. Thank The Lord every day for your miracle.

  62. Navani says:

    Thank you for sharing. Please be gentle with yourself. So many Doulas are really awesome. I had a Doula in our community fetching $1500, more than the CNM!!! She sucked! I’m a L&D RN, doula by training and midwife apprentice. Be gentle with yourself and good for you for sharing your story. It’s a team approach and more often than not we care. Sad some Doulas push the envelope in the face if ligitimate risk factors. GBS, GDM, and prolonged rupture of membranes. She should be hung.

  63. Anonymous says:

    Reading this, tears were swelling up in my eyes. How difficult it must be for you to think of all the things that could have gone wrong! I feel most of us are so unprepared going into our first delivery! We just have no idea, and trust whoever is there giving us advice. I am so happy your story has a good ending. Thank G-d your baby is healthy! For my first, I had an unnecessary C-section (yes, doctors from the same hospital afterwards could not believe I actually had a C-section) and I was so sad about it for so long. Until my husband said to me “Are you serious? Look at our beautiful daughter! She is home with us- she is healthy! What more could you ask for? Who cares if it didn’t happen the way you dreamt it would happen? THIS- SHE- IS THE DREAM!” and I realized he was absolutely right. For my second, I went to the same hospital, with a bit more confidence and knowledge, had a 40 hour labor where every hour or so I said no to a C-section. Every time they offered and urged me to take one, I asked if the baby was fine. As long as they said yes, I was saying no to a C-section. Thank G-d, 40 hours later, I gave birth to a beautiful little girl, vaginally. It was such a different experience and I am so pleased. But bottom line, my husband is right, the “how” doesn’t really matter. We all look down on women who grab an epidural at the first sign of pain, or chose to have a C-section or whatever. But all that doesn’t matter- as long as our babies are healthy and we can hold them in our arms and love them, it’s all good.

  64. Lindsey says:

    I’m very thankful that you posted this. I, myself, am a labor and delivery nurse and am on a regular basis treated like the enemy. I went into this, because I love birth in all of its forms. I love being there when people meet their child for the first time, I rejoice in sharing in that moment when people find out that they have a son or daughter, and I hold people’s hands during the darkest nights of their lives as well- and I love and am thankful for every minute of it. I have a truly blessed job. In the past two years I have noticed a major shift to not only natural birth, but doula attended natural birth. Some of these doulas are amazing- teaching women about how strong they can be, supporting them through those moments when they don’t think they can do it anymore, and relaxing them with therapeutic techniques. This is the role of a doula. Support. However, I have found myself walking into room where I am not welcome. I am treated instantly as the outsider and not given a chance to partake in the birth. I do this job because I love it.

    Contrary to popular belief it doesn’t benefit me for you to have a cesarean. I am there for 12 hours either way, and if I don’t think a cesarean is the right choice I will advocate for you. I will answer all of your questions honestly and let you know your rights, even if it angers some doctors. I am there to be your advocate. It doesn’t help me to support you when I am completely unwelcomed in the room.

    Even last night I helped a woman to have the natural birth of her dreams with a high risk pregnancy. I contorted my own body on the floor to manage to monitor her baby in a way that allowed her to push in a position with her natural urges. Her doula had gone home to nap. The doula arrived back after the birth, of which I had just supported this woman and immediately told me and the doctors what to do in regards to the baby and the mothers care. THIS WOMAN IS NOT MEDICALLY TRAINED. The baby had a very high risk scenario with a poor prognosis. The doula told the parents that I did not have the right to suction the baby (a practice I don’t normally use- but in this high risk case, breathing was quite necessary). The parents agreed and let their baby struggle to breathe for 10 minutes prior to allowing me to touch the child. I agree that most babies can transition skin to skin with their mothers, however, this was not most pregnancies. The people at stake here are the baby, my license, and the doctors- the doula has absolutely nothing on the line, and no medical training to back her decision. Parents are all too often to not trust the medical team and to sue when things don’t go perfectly as planned (as expressed in this article). What has really driven up the rate of cesareans is that- lawsuits. Doctors constantly feeling like they have to cover themselves verses being able to give the best care they can give.

    All in all, we all need to take a step back and realize that we got pregnant in order to have a safe and healthy baby. If that means a cesarean- that’s not the end of the world. Losing your child due to losing sight of what really matters can cost a life- and it has. Please be informed about your medical choices, figure out what works best for you, and have all of the support you need in your labor. BUT PLEASE, do not take medical advice from non-medical professionals.

    Again, thank you for sharing this article. I am so happy to see that you have had a good outcome, as many others have not. Let’s not lose sight of what really matters here- having our babies. Taking them home. Loving them.

    PS That doula should NOT be practicing anymore, and if you were considering a lawsuit against her, you would probably win.

    • Beverly says:

      Rogue doulas exist. They are doulas when they should be political activist instead. Honestly, there are more of us out there who are decent, medical minding doulas who want to just support the mom and not give medical advice. Putting yourself in that role opens you up to lawsuits. We can only tell the mom to ask questions and then let her make the final decision. Although the medical goal is a happy and healthy baby, there are a ton of moms who believe this is a defining journey who will have post partum and other PTSD issues if they feel birth was done “to them” or “in spite of them”. Allowing them to have a voice – albeit without acting like a rogue maniac, is a good thing.

  65. Wendy says:

    I read your story thinking how I probably would have done the same thing and grateful for the emotional work you’ve done to be able to openly share such a horrific deeply personal betrayal and trauma with such measured objectivity.

    I read all the comments, too. I was glad to see all the support and validation you’ve received. (There are always a few weirdies, but they out themselves and you were gracious, even to them.)

    I hope writing and sharing has helped you continue to process the trauma. I’ve heard that women sometimes suffer PTSD type symptoms after traumatic births; I hope you are releasing the guilt and continuing to process in a healthy way for you. You sound very balanced and like you have worked through it all- I am impressed.

    On a different, but related note, when my daughter was a girl, I allowed a very trusted friend, a more experienced mother with an older child, convince me that my daughter was a tricky, coniving, deceitful girl who had fooled me into thinking she was sweet and tender hearted. How terrible of me to not advocate for my incredibly sweet girl (who told me one lie in the whole of her childhood) and to let ANYONE convince me that I couldn’t trust myself. We have to trust people, but I love how you have gained such clarity about who you trust for what. You will never do what I did. You will always be a fierce advocate for your daughter and you have a whole life-time to do just that. One thing I know as a parent is that I made plenty of mistakes, but my children are resilient and we’ve all learned how to love, forgive and grow together. You will be a fabulous mommy- you already are. I applaud you, support you, and wish you a continued resolution to this trauma that will bring you peace.

    Thanks again for the courage to re-live it all by writing about it and allowing it to be shared broadly so that others can benefit. I hope
    many blessings will return to you.

  66. Nancy Kilpatrick, RN,BSN, BA, ACCE-R says:

    Thank you, also, K.C. Riley and Caring Doctor, for your comments – I agree with and applaud you both for your perspectives. I also wondered what the fetal monitoring revealed during the pushing stage – or even before. In most cases, there is “handwriting on the wall” that a baby is in distress – but this is speculation after the fact, and the main concern is the woeful ignorance and irresponsibility of the doula in question. I applaud Greatminuseight’s desire to help educate others, and her bravery in being willing to share her experience and her pain with us. And to Confused – how heartless can you be? What purpose were you hoping to achieve in your comments? Shame on you!

    • Confused says:

      That’s a huge assumptive jump, Mrs. Kilpatrick… It doesn’t make me heartless just because I had a hard time with how naive she was with believing every bit of doula’s info without question. Even if you look up the wiki page for doula… Its pretty clear that the doula is not a medical professional but a professional labor support. There is so much information out there that while daunting and some times frustrating one can use quite a bit of discerning wisdom to see what is common sense.

      Also there were warning signs of how bad this doula was way before the birth but once a professional tells you to lie to another one especially about a possible life or death situation like birth can be and already knowing about the Strep B… Then they should have known to go to the hospital and ditch that lady.

      That is the purpose of the comments… To understand how there was such a relinquishing of personal responsibility in a culture that is in such flux about pregnancy/labor/delivery. You have to do your own homework when it come to any kind of medical care these days whether you like alternative medicine or traditional.

      Shame on you for chastising someone with a question. Questions are fair play when creating a forum. Questions or questioning are we come to understanding in life.

      • RLB says:

        You make me so mad. You’re clearly not reading what anyone is writing, nor are you paying attention to what the blog said…. she is NOT “relinquishing personal responsibility” in ANY way at all. And she DID “do her homework” with the materials provided to her regarding her initial desire for a natural birth. She’s NOT a doctor herself, so unless you plan to give a book on labor and delivery to every pregnant woman in the US, you should probably choose your words more carefully. You’re clearly trying to put out inflammatory remarks to make people angry, since you’re one of the only ones on here who just doesn’t seem to get it. What don’t you understand about her admitting that she and her husband made mistakes and they want to help others avoid them too? Did you just stop reading halfway through? Because the entire last part of the post talks about being careful to do your own research. Shame on YOU for being such a heartless person for trying to blame her even more when she’s been through so much, already admitted that she had fault in not following her doctor’s advice, and for trying to help others be more practical. YOU clearly are the one that doesn’t get it when EVERYONE else on this thread of comments does. Shame on YOU for kicking someone when they are already down and already admitted to fault. What more do you want, the pound of flesh Shylock?

  67. Beverly says:

    I’m a doula and I am sorry your doula gave you incredibly bad advice. DONA doulas are trained to never give medical advice- implicit or suggestive. She did you and your baby a disservice. For what she was trained to do, she may have done well. Unfortunately, there are bad docs an there are bad nurses – and bad doulas.

  68. Krystyna Bowman says:

    Are you still reading comments? If so, I am happy your daughter is well and that you are able to have more children. As a doula, I am sad for you and for your doula. How terrible to learn the hard way that a doula is NOT a medical professional. I am sad that your doula did more than facilitate your decisions – she influenced and made decisions. There are many GOOD doulas out there who understand their role as a support person ONLY. Besides labor support, we share information (I make every effort to share articles to read for both the pro and con of every option/consideration/intervention), ask questions, NEVER decide or share an opinion. It is up to the client to use their BRAIN (what are the Benefits-Risks-Alternatives- what does my Intuition say – what will happen Next if I say yes or if I do Nothing). I hope you decide to question more and trust less – even your doctor can give you bad advice, not because they are evil, simply because they are not caught up to evidence-based care as per ACOG. I encourage you to read up on ACOG guidelines so that you don’t feel like your doctors railroaded if there is a next time. Making true informed consent decisions part of the equation in empowered birth.

  69. This is a great article about why it is important to stay within our scope of practice at births …. doctors are not the enemy and though sometimes they give advice that we may not agree with they are the primary care givers and it is not our place to contradict that. We can offer evidence based information for the mom and parter to look at and decide on. However it is not our place to tell a client how they should or shouldn’t act during their birth. I am so sorry a doula had you go through this and even more sorry that your child had to go through this so early in life. Please don’t blame yourself or think about any births that come in a negative manor…. your first birth does not dictate how your following births have to go. Hire a doula not someone who thinks they are a medical doctor or better than…. and enjoy a peaceful calming, healing 2nd birth…. Again for all the doula’s out there that understand our scope of practice I am so sorry… P.S. for the mom’s to be you need to report this woman to whomever she is a member as a doula with…. also for the doula’s out there that work in our scope you need to do this as we get a bad name in hospitals because of doula’s like this….. please consider reporting her if you haven’t already.

  70. Mommy of 2 says:

    As a previous L&D nurse for many years, and also a mom of 2, my heart breaks for you.
    You ( and you daughter) have survived a hard lesson learned.And you have deffinitly paid your dues!
    Over the years I have come to terms that there are very different people in the world with different thoughts and beliefs! I also think that pregnancy, during and after plays a game with our emotion and sometimes our clear thinking is clouded with emotional fog!
    At the time you made choices, you went above and beyond searching for more help and support for you and your family during pregnancy, and also potentially after with breast feeding! You started the protection phase while u were pregnant, only wanting the very best for your baby and family.
    As a ” lay” person you made NO mistakes, you trusted and only wanted the very best.
    I can tell that now as your daughter and your family grews older, you will continue to be an amazing person and you will love you family!
    Put this experience behind you and enjoy every moment of the future.
    Many people have offered you great advice, so all I will say is trust you instincts!
    Enjoy your beautiful little girl :)

  71. Anonymous says:

    I am a labor and delivery nurse. I commend you for this article. We are very PRO natural birth, or really whatever the mom wants. It feels a lot as though we, as medical professionals, are seen as the enemy and it is very frustrating. We WANT to help you. We WANT the best for you and your baby. We DONT want you to have a c section. But we also KNOW what can happen, and what can go wrong. We love a supportive doula, but they do legally have limits. Good luck on your next natural birth-you CAN do it. And thanks for posting this!

  72. anna says:

    It has been said again and again, but you are not to blame in this. You were working in the best interests of your daughter throughout, only, you were given false information. Even if you’d not been adamant about avoiding a hospitalised birth, the doula stepped way over the line and as a pregnant woman, it is not really your responsibility to police the ethical and professional boundaries of a doula. Yes, you followed her advice and chose that over the doctor’s, but she did absolutely nothing (from this account) to indicate that you were relying on her for information that wasn’t hers to give.

    This woman is working unprofessionally and has put your health and your daughter’s health at risk. Please don’t let her put my child’s life at risk, or my friend’s. Doula’s can do absolutely amazing work, especially in a health care system that all too frequently forgets that we are people, rather than bodies. This one, however, is tarnishing the name of doulas (do you think the doctors who witnessed her would be happy the next time they encounter a doula?).

    Your story is so heart wrenching and again I have to say that what comes out is that you were involved, but the main blame for this awful events isn’t really resting at your door. You were doing the best for your daughter and I hope that you can see that and unburden at least some of the guilt.

  73. Anonymous says:

    I am a High Risk RN on a small unit that specializes in cases with Gestational Diabetes, Preclampsia and Preterm labor. We have excellent specialists on our medical staff and have adjunct doula’s who work hand in hand with our doctors.
    When reading this story I was so touched. The shifting focus in literature and trends of thought for new moms is disturbing. Natural birth at all costs lends itself to outcomes such as this. When did doctor’s and seeking medical advice become the enemy? Why are cesarean sections performed? Because doctor’s have one goal: healthy mom and healthy baby. They cannot be distracted from this goal by “preference” or “type” of birth. This is a highly regulated, evidence based practice field. Our doctor’s and doula’s work together for the type of birth experience the mother wants until that preference might interfere with the health of patient or fetus. That’s when it is appropriate for modern medicine to triumph for a happy ending.
    Glad to hear your little one is safe. Hope you will use a doctor to manage your gestational diabetes if it occurs during your next pregnancy.

    • badaza says:

      I don’t see how you can say that this is a field governed by evidenced-based medicine when more and more hospitals ban VBACs.

      Doctors have become the enemy because too many of them (and too many can be 5%, they’re just the only ones we hear about) are not using evidence-based medicine. They scare moms into C-Sections by talking about macrosomia, when ultrasound estimates are routinely over the real weight of the baby, often by a pound or more. Macrosomia isn’t, by itself a contra-indication for a VBAC, it shouldn’t be one for a vaginal birth. Same for GD. They scare moms into repeat C-sections by inflating the uterine rupture rate to 10%, 25%, when it’s around 1% (and when other catastrophic risks are just as prevalent for vaginal births, and the presence of those risks are not enough for an automatic C-Section. If they were, everyone would have a C-Section.). They tell women that they’re irresponsible to choose a VBAC over the health of their baby (when repeat C-Sections have risks that are just as bad for the current birth and lead to increased risks for future pregnancies, including emergency hysterectomies.

      Maybe the hospital you work in has doctors that keep up with research and modify their practice accordingly. However, many hospitals and doctors don’t. And that’s why the medical establishment is the enemy.

      • Anonymous says:

        @Badaza, you have no idea what you’re talking about. You have no idea what those statistics you’re quoting mean. An individual mom’s UR rate *can* be well over 1% depending on her individual history and clinical signs. This is exactly why unless you have been to medical school, you should not be spouting medical advice on the internet.

      • badaza says:

        To be clear, I’m not saying everyone is a good candidate for a VBAC. However, the majority of women are. When the ACOG says a VBAC is as safe as a C-Section, depending on some factors. Precisely, as outlined in the ACOG’s Practice bulletin #115:

        Summary of Recommendations

        The following recommendations are based on good and consistent scientific evidence (Level A):

        - Most women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low-transverse incision are candidates for and should be counseled about VBAC and offered TOLAC.
        - Epidural analgesia for labor may be used as part of TOLAC.
        - Misoprostol should not be used for third trimester cervical ripening or labor induction in patients who have had a cesarean delivery or major uterine surgery.

        The following recommendations are based on limited or inconsistent scientific evidence (Level B):

        - Women with two previous low transverse cesarean deliveries may be considered candidates for TOLAC.
        - Women with one previous cesarean delivery with a low transverse incision, who are otherwise appropriate candidates for twin vaginal delivery, may be considered candidates for TOLAC.
        - External cephalic version for breech presentation is not contraindicated in women with a prior low transverse uterine incision who are at low risk for adverse maternal or neonatal outcomes from external cephalic version and TOLAC.
        - Those at high risk for complications (eg, those with previous classical or T-incision, prior uterine rupture, or extensive transfundal uterine surgery) and those in whom vaginal delivery is otherwise contraindicated (eg, those with placenta previa) are not generally candidates for planned TOLAC.
        - Induction of labor for maternal or fetal indications remains an option in women undergoing TOLAC.
        - TOLAC is not contraindicated for women with previous cesarean delivery with an unknown uterine scar type unless there is a high clinical suspicion of a previous classical uterine incision.

        The following recommendations are based primarily on consensus and expert opinion (Level C):

        - A trial of labor after previous cesarean delivery should be undertaken at facilities capable of emergency deliveries. Because of the risks associated with TOLAC and that uterine rupture and other complications may be unpredictable, the College recommends that TOLAC be undertaken in facilities with staff immediately available to provide emergency care. When resources for immediate cesarean delivery are not available, the College recommends that health care providers and patients considering TOLAC discuss the hospital’s resources and availability of obstetric, pediatric, anesthetic, and operating room staffs. Respect for patient autonomy supports that patients should be allowed to accept increased levels of risk, however, patients should be clearly informed of such potential increase in risk and management alternatives.
        - After counseling, the ultimate decision to undergo TOLAC or a repeat cesarean delivery should be made by the patient in consultation with her health care provider. The potential risks and benefits of both TOLAC and elective repeat cesarean delivery should be discussed. Documentation of counseling and the management plan should be included in the medical record.

        Each person has to make a choice depending on their risk tolerance. A VBAC ban causes more complications because of multiple C-Sections, but a repeat C-Section ban (which doesn’t exist in hospitals) would be as bad, because some women NEED a C-Section, for medical reasons.

        Most doctor bullying stories I’ve read are stories of doctors making a blanket statement that VBACs are not safe at all and that they pose a greater risk to women and babies than a repeat C-Section. That is wrong on many levels, but, first and foremost, they prevent women from making an informed decision. (Just as the doula did.)

  74. Van says:

    I cannot believe what I just read! Your doula almost killed your Baby then suggested you sue the Physician? She should NEVER be left alone with a pregnant woman again. She really misguided you. I am so glad to hear that your baby is fine now, it was a setup for disaster. You should never lie to your physician. Thank you for putting this information out, for others to be aware of.
    Blessings to your family and sweet baby.

  75. Bea says:

    Doulas are a waste of money! They are certified, to get certified it does not take extensive education. Any one can get certified to be a Doula! All they are there for is to hold your hand during delivery. And frankly I would rather have my family holding my hand, and handing me warm towels.

    • Doula in the Hood says:

      Doulas do a lot more that hold your hand or hand you a warm towel. Do some research before making statements like this. The numbers don’t lie. Statistics prove how vital a doula can be to a healthy mom and healthy baby outcome.

  76. Anonymous says:

    I am seriously shocked that after such an experience where without the medical intervention of the medical professionals your child could have died or have lifelong disabilities you are considering a dula for your next pregnancy! You should seriously count your blessings and be thankful that your child is fine despite your bad decision of allowing a person that has no medical education give you life threatening advice! How do you know that your next pregnancy will be uneventful? Why do you want to play Russian roulette with your kids?

    As a mother of a child with multiple disabilities, I strongly recommend that you follow your doctor’s recommendations and declutter yourself of this natural birth BS. I had a totally normal pregnancy and delivery and my child was not as lucky as yours! This is why I strongly recommend you to not take any advice from people with no medical education that just hate the medical professionals because they were not able to put themselves through all the school and training that the medical profession requires. And they don’ t realize that they are placing these babies at unnecessary risks with their total ignorance. The first days of life are the most critical for the baby’ s life and not intervening in a timely manner can cause the babies lifelong handicaps and can cause struggles for their families that cannot be described by words.

    This is why I strongly encourage you to follow your doctors advice in your next pregnancy! They have the education and experience to watch over you and your child and act if necessary.
    Good luck.
    Marcy.

    • Most doulas don’t offer medical advice, and are only there for the emotional and physical comfort of the mother during and after labor. Not only that, but most are able to work comfortably with the OB and the parents for the best outcome of the mother and the baby.

      This didn’t happen with my daughter’s delivery. If something bad happened with one doctor, I wouldn’t assume all doctors are horrible. In that same light, I think it is important to remember that doulas are a wonderful asset to the birthing experience, as long as they are properly utilized, which is what went wrong in my case, and what I’m hoping to impart on others by sharing my story.

      Rest assured, I will only seek medical advice from my doctor from now on. But thanks for your thoughts.

    • Marcy the point is that the doula was acting inappropriately. A doula can be very beneficial. The most important thing for us in making sure everything went well in our 4 births is the doula is always there. The doctor and the nurse are not. If you find one that in knowledgeable about their role, acts appropriately, and has a loving spirit they are the best tool to make certain everything goes well. All 4 of my children were born in a hospital. For several reasons. One being that I like having the comfort of knowing there is the expertise and equipment there if it is needed. The other is that my insurance pays for 100% of the cost from the time my wife is diagnosed as pregnant until the baby comes home from the hospital. I would not ever want to go through the process with a doctor with a bad attitude, a nurse with a bad attitude, or a doula with a bad attitude. I also don’t want to go through the experience without any of them at all. All of them have their roles and they all help.

  77. Jenny Lopez says:

    I read your story while sitting next to my almost 1 year old DD, your words made me tear up and grab her head and kiss it. Thank you so much for writing this brave, beautiful post. It takes cajones to speak up and say, natural birth, midwives, doulas… All of the natural birthing industry ilk deserve to be scrutinized as closely as we scrutinize medical personnel and interventions. Think before you trust. Once again, thank you for putting these words out in the world. Your little lady is beautiful!!!!!

  78. Thanks for sharing this. I’m a huge advocate of natural birth and while I didn’t have my baby at home or with a doula, I had some pretty bad ass midwives at Intown Midwifery in Atlanta. I received similar information from my midwives about being Strep B positive; I was and my water broke leaving me with no contractions for almost 48 hours. My midwives told me to stay at home until I started having them or until the 48 hour mark due to the fear of the baby being septic, etc. However, this doula puts other doulas and natural birth midwives to shame. Natural birth is a beautiful thing that women can choose to do with their bodies and for their babies and we are supposed to feel comfortable knowing that it is a very safe process when confronted with knowledgeable midwives and doulas. I never once saw an obstetrician and I delivered a healthy baby naturally in the water with no medical intervention. I’m very sad that this happened to you as it is devastating enough when you’re planning to have a natural birth and cannot for some reason or another. Regardless, you’re AWESOME because you’re a mom and able to share this story with other women so that they will think twice when choosing any care providers for themselves during pregnancy and for their babies following birth.

    • Anonymous says:

      Megan – the midwives at Intown Midwifery told you that you could stay home until the 48 hour mark, or until active labor, when you were GBS positive? And let you have a tub birth when you had been ruptured that long? I am an L&D nurse in ATL and work with awesome midwives, but their recommendations would have been more conservative (and, to my mind, more safe). Glad everything turned out okay for you and your little one though!

  79. Thank you for sharing your story. I have been a L&D nurse for 7 years and I frequently need to remind my patients that our goal as caretakers is to get a healthy mom and baby. I always do my best to follow the patient’s wishes, but I always say “if what you want contradicts what is best for your baby, the baby wins every time.” I’m not sure where this idea that we are the enemy and will force interventions on every patient that comes in came from, but I hope it dissipates soon. I’m so glad your sweet baby is okay and I wish you the best!

  80. Mommadoc says:

    Dear greatminus8- bravo for this post! I am a young physician and mother of 3. I have read most of the comments, and share many of the thoughts of the medical professionals. While I completely empathize with you and your experience, I echo the sentiment of the Pedsdoc, although I agree the words used in the comment were strong. But this post highlights just how much the patient’s decisions and compliance influences outcomes. Doctors today are resorting to practicing in a way that prevents them from being sued- ordering extra tests, recommending more visits, doing more surgeries, etc. This has put US Healthcare in an almost irreparable state. Physicians are often held accountable for negative outcomes, esp if it was documented, as in your case, that symptoms were present for less time than they actually were.
    I take my job very seriously. I believe in accountability, which should be left to professional peers. When a patient has a negative outcome, EVERY physician is thinking about what could have been done differently. We lose sleep. We are impatient with our children and spouses. We even become depressed under the heaviness of guilt. Some succumb with suicide and substance abuse. Physicians are human, not superheroes without flaws. In your case, thankfully your child is healthy. But the outcome is not always favorable. And when it isn’t, the response all too often is to sue. And the cycle continues.

    • My husband and I are not litigious in nature. We’ve been encouraged to sue this individual, and we won’t. Why? Because our decisions, however misguided and influenced, were our responsibility. It is unfair to take out our frustrations on the other professionals who just did their best to handle a crappy situation. How would that help?

      Thanks for your thoughts, and I couldn’t agree more.

  81. Motherhood is full of what if’s, good and poor decisions, and lessons that we never knew we would need to learn. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad to hear your daughter is thriving!

  82. Anonymous says:

    I’m a Labor & Delivery nurse, and I am so happy your daughter is well. I don’t have much experience with doulas. Hopefully, most doulas are more helpful and less manipulative than the doula that was with you.

  83. Anonymous says:

    I want to commend you for having the courage to share your story. I’m sure many mothers, doulas and other birth professionals will benefit from your words.

    Martha

  84. Anonymous says:

    I am a labor and delivery nurse and every part of your story leading up to the delivery was raising all sorts of red flags for me! I am very supportive of patients who desire natural childbirth and am happy to help them achieve it and I’ve worked with wonderful Doulas before but the things yours told you are absolutely appalling to me. I too often have seen patients come to the hospital with such unrealistic expectations of labor and they do not seem to see that what truely matters in the end is a healthy mom and baby and it’s very hard to help them see this reality when they see me and their doctor as the enemy. I urge everyone to have an open mind when going into the hospital for labor and educate yourselves from both the Doula and doctor perspective before delivery. I’m so thankful that your daughter is doing well after all that happened.

  85. BabyCatcher says:

    I am so sorry that your birth experience was so traumatic! I’m not sure I can add anything that hasn’t been said already but I want to show you my support! Unlike PedsDoc, I think you may be taking on more responsibility than you need to. Women attempt to educate themselves on labor and birth-when they find a “birth professional” they generally assume that they can trust them so the information given is taken at face value. You had no reason to think that your doula did not have your best interest in mind. Unfortunately, it sounds like your doula only had her best interest in mind and her interests were proving that the medical community is the enemy. I am a certified nurse midwife and I’ve worked with some great doulas and not so great. I know you said you will have a doula with your next baby, I think that’s great. Advice I always give my patients when seeking a doula is to find out about their experience, talk to health care providers that have worked with them and ask how the experience has been.I’ve had doulas push me out of the way when trying to resuscitate a baby because they felt skin to skin was all the baby needed (no, the baby needs CPR because there’s no heart rate and baby is not breathing!) I’ve had doulas tell patients that they should wait “just a couple more hours” when patients were begging for an epidural-I would not recommend these doulas! Also, if anyone on your birth team is recommending something to you and only giving you one side of the story (only telling you the risks or only the benefits and not both) you should probably seek out another provider-they obviously have an agenda. I also tell them to trust their intuition. We had a doula that had 3 consecutive clients that we worked with deliver either at home or in the car on the way to the hospital-all 3 told us that she’d made a comment that they didn’t need a doctor/midwife anyway and 2 of the 3 told us they wanted to come to the hospital earlier but were told they should wait longer at home.

    This also goes for midwives. I think you’d be a great candidate for a GOOD midwife with your next baby because midwives really aim to fully educate patients on risks and benefits and they tend to try to spend more time with you at your visits and make sure you fully understand all options available. It sounds like the midwife you encountered in the hospital was maybe just a little thrown off because she hadn’t met you before or maybe she was intimidated by your doula-I’ve felt that way before when doulas are really pushy-especially if it’s a patient I have never met or maybe only seen a couple of times and haven’t bonded with. There have been times when I tend to make myself scarce and let the doula be the main support so as not to cause conflict that could make the mother uncomfortable-plus, since inaccurate information was given at the hospital the midwife probably had no idea of the gravity of the situation.

    Midwives come in all different varieties so you need to do your research. Certified Nurse Midwives are registered nurses that have additional education, they have a Master’s Degree and are licensed advanced practice nurses (much like nurse practitioners) they deliver babies in hospitals, homes or birth centers. Certified Professional Midwives are trained in midwifery and have to also take a licensing exam but do not have a medical background. There is then a whole other category of midwives known as “lay midwives.” Some of these midwives are great but their training varies greatly, some have completed an apprenticeship with a midwife, others have watched a youtube video and decided they could do that so call themselves a midwife. They usually have no formal agreement with a consulting physician, therefore, when things go wrong they usually drop clients off at the hospital and run because they are illegal in some states and often they don’t want to deal with answering questions at the hospital. You should also ask your midwife about their relationship with their consulting physician-find out what their procedure is for consulting, find out what conditions they consult on etc. I am lucky in my practice because I work very well with my consulting physicians, they trust me and respect me so consults and transfer of care situations are smooth and I don’t have to worry that they will treat me badly-other midwives are not so lucky.

    I’m so glad that your daughter is a thriving, happy, beautiful girl! I wish you the very best of luck on your next baby!

    ~Happy Birthing!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Awesome post. One thing to note though is that certified professional midwives *are* lay midwives.

      • Anonymous says:

        We consider ourselves direct entry, not lay. Like in the UK. We do not do general nursing; we directly study, train, and specialize in prenatal, birth and post-patum care.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know that it must have been hard reliving it. I am just starting out as a doula and I will remember this story and be very cautious. I am sorry you had this experience.

  87. Heidi says:

    I have to say, I don’t understand very much of this. My father is a retired OB/GYN. I married late in life (38yo) and had my first baby at 40yo. I had a miscarriage with my first try at 39 yo. I was so ecstatic to be pregnant without infertility treatments that I didn’t care how this baby (or my next one at 41yo) came out as long as it was healthy. I did deliver vaginally even tho AMA (advanced maternal age), I was shocked! No matter if you have a caesarean or a vaginal birth…you have the same kind of baby. You don’t get a medal for laboring for 48 hours or get your baby taken away if you have an epidural. Doctors are not the enemy, they want the same thing you do – a healthy baby.

  88. “if my medical professional suggests that something needs to be done for the safety and health of either myself or my child, I will not hesitate.”

    This, right here, is the core issue here. You say you want a natural birth, then you hire a surgeon to “deliver:” you, and do anything and everything they say, even if it is not evidence based (pretty much nothing OBs do is evidence based). You are presenting this as a nightmare story of a failed natural birth and a big meanie doula.

    You liked the idea of natural birth, but you were not actually willing to do the research, soul searching, or take on the personal responsibility to have one. Hiring an OB, and following their every order without question almost never results in a natural birth. That is fine. No one says you are a bad person if you want a medicated, institutional birth. However, you should not have hired a doula who focused on natural birth. You essentially lied to her.. Now, she probably should have turned you down as a client, as it was obvious that you didn’t really have any desire for a natural birth. She should not have gotten involved in this disaster if she was not up for a medicated birth. This was her error. She is not faultless.

    However, you were not a good client. You hired her under false pretenses. You accepted interventions that likely led to all the complications you experienced. (While those complications can happen outside the hospital, in your story it appears rather obvious that your OB created danger, then “saved” you and your baby). This is why your doula was upset. You told her you wanted a natural birth, and you wanted her help with that, then you go out of your way to have a very risky birth with tons of intervention. Her side of the story probably does not make you look good.

    Be a decent person, and own your experience. Do not scapegoat this poor woman you hired. You made these choices. If you have another baby, be honest. You want a traditional hospital birth. You fear birth, and love doctors. That’s fine. Your body, your birth. Just don’t ever hire a “natural birth doula” ever again. If you want another doula, make sure she knows that you are going to accept every intervention and tests offered. Let her know that you hand off all responsibility for your birth. It is only right.

    • BMBmama says:

      @Instinctualmama you may be one of the rudest, nastiest people I’ve ever read. You’re a horrible human being for writing what you just wrote. You should be ashamed of yourself for that comment. What the hell do you expect, her to act like a doctor or a med student? Pregnant women can only follow the best of the choices they are given as advice of people they trust (OB, Midwife, Nurses, doula). This woman clearly isn’t a doctor, yet you are putting all the blame on her as a patient.

      “Be a decent person, and own your experience. Do not scapegoat this poor woman you hired. You made these choices. If you have another baby, be honest. You want a traditional hospital birth. You fear birth, and love doctors. That’s fine. Your body, your birth. Just don’t ever hire a “natural birth doula” ever again. If you want another doula, make sure she knows that you are going to accept every intervention and tests offered. Let her know that you hand off all responsibility for your birth. It is only right..”

      Are you serious? What the hell do you think this post is about??????? You’re a despicable person for writing that. You should seriously look at yourself in the mirror and examine why you feel the need to be so nasty to people. She isn’t scapegoating anyone here, and there are all kinds of natural births, you clearly are just biased and don’t care at all for any other than what is in your head as a totally natural birth. It’s people like you that cause stories like this. I hope to God you have NO contact with pregnant women or babies, because you’re the kind of woman that would lead to the death of mothers and babies. She got into this mess because she was afraid of doctors and interventions, and that fear led to poor decisions (which she clearly is using this entire blog post to point out). And interventions/tests and having a doula are not mutually exclusive to each other…. a doula has nothing to do with the interventions/tests. YOU need to do your homework.

    • Anonymous says:

      @instinctualmama – SERIOUSLY?????? Did you write this comment as some sort of a JOKE? Because if it is meant to be serious, it’s one of the most uneducated, misguided, idiotic and mean-spirited things I have ever read. I certainly hope you are NOT a doula, or anyone involved in the birthing process at all. Someone who wants to deliver in a safe environment does not “fear birth and love doctors,” and how exactly did the OB “create danger and then “save” the blogger and her baby? I could go on and on with what you have written, but, honestly, you simply aren’t worth it.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are an idiot. And to say she hasn’t owned her responsibility in this is absolutely inaccurate. Re-read the post as I fear that you, my friend, are the uneducated one.
      And please, please do not talk about evidenced-based anything when you very obviously have no evidence to back anything you are saying.

  89. You obviously didn’t read this post.

    I prepared heavily for a non-medicated birth. I was completely anti-meds, anti-cesarean, and anti-epidural. We went to a hospital to deliver because there are no birth centers within 80 miles of my home. We didn’t have a home birth because it isn’t legal in the state of Kentucky for a midwife to attend one. We went to the hospital after three days of labor, continued to labor until my body gave out from sheer exhaustion.

    I’m not sure how I “want a traditional hospital birth”. My doula knows the truth on this one, how many books I read, how many conversations we had, how long and hard I considered just birthing at home.

    I really don’t have to answer to you, thank god. My doula is not at fault for the decisions I made during my labor. Her misstep was giving me medical advice. What happened was my own responsibility. But you obviously don’t know me or my intentions, so you can keep your dangerously asinine comments, and I’ll continue to stay where I am; a mom who desires a birth without *non essential* medical intervention. If my doctor, who was perfectly fine with me having a vaginal birth from the get-go, states that she has a concern for the welfare of myself or my child, I would obviously be a fool to ignore that, as evidenced by what happened to my daughter.

  90. Leigh NICU RN says:

    I have 14years experience as an LD and NICU RN. I have just spent an hour reading your blog and comments. I applaud you for not only sharing your story about this doula, but for taking your own responsibility for the situation. You are very brave. Praise God your child is alive and healthy. Please do name this doula so that others in your area can be warned. It does not make you vengeful but an advocate for new mothers and their little ones. Since she has no certification and you & your husband do not want to pursue legal action, how will she be kept from hurt in others? I would argue that your owning your experience must be taken a step further….out this woman. You have clearly outed yourself in an effort to educate and start your own healing and forgiveness. Next time she -along with the parents-may very well see an infant die because of poor advice and stubbornness.

  91. Wildflower says:

    I am sorry for how things turned out. Very unfortunate that things did not go as you planned.

    The doula should not be getting all of the blame; I feel like she has been made the scapegoat. I know you have beat yourself up about this birth, and I feel bad making you feel bad again, but YOU are the only one responsible for your birth, your baby, your body. Not your doula, husband, midwife, OB, nurse, or anyone else. Ultimately, all responsibility lies with you, the mother. You are the only one who can make birth choices no matter anyone’s advice – medical professional or not.

    The doula acted inappropriately. She does not have a medical role. However, you acted inappropriately by trusting anyone’s advice blindly. Other women have had horrible birth experiences based on an OB’s recommendation, or a Midwife’s, etc. All care providers are offering their expertise and advice – but YOU make the ultimate decision (unless you’re unconcious or literally unable to make a choice by being incapacitated in some way). You should have researched group B strep and protocols recommended in various countries ON YOUR OWN, while considering all the opinions you got from others (OB, friends, nurse, etc), and made your OWN choice. Had you done so, you probably would have disregarded the doula’s advice. You probably would have followed the OB’s advice and taken the antibiotics right after your water broke. And you more than likely would have had pitcocin early on, which would have hopefully sped labor up, or a c-section. While the doula gave you bad advice, you made the choice. She didn’t force you; your birth is your responsibility.

    Had you researched childbirth and natural birth more, you would have KNOWN that the doula is NOT a medical provider, but a hand-holder and comfort provider and birth advocate. Yes, she should not have given you advice. You deciding to blindly trust ANY person with medical decisions – even a doctor – is a poor choice. Research everything. Take responsibility for your birth, your baby, your body.

    Had you had a homebirth, you would not have been pushing on your back – which decreases the size of your pelvis by 30%, and requires baby to fit through a SMALLER opening than if you were in almost any other position. It is the WORST position for birth. Having GD probably would have risked you out of a homebirth, but you still could have done the research homebirthers usually do. We find out what the complications are, how to safely deal with them, and when getting medical care for birth is necessary. We know how to discern between good and bad advice because we learn everything we can about birth. For shoulder distocia, you need to be pushing on all fours. The baby can get out much easier with distocia if you are in the all-fours (doggy) position. That alone would have decreased pushing time.

    No, OB’s aren’t the enemy, but they are surgeons trained in abnormal birth and complicated birth. Most have never seen a birth without an intervention of some sort – AROM, pitocin, epidural, being stuck on your back in a bed. Natural birth is not like that. Therefore, yes, you should quetion your OB. You cannot blindly trust anyone to manage any medical procedure or birth for you; whether you are having a baby, heart surgery, or managing diabetes, you need to do a fair amount of research into the topic. Get advice and opinions from professionals and those who have been through it, read-read-read, and make an informed decision. Unless someone does something to you without your informed consent, you are responsible for the outcome because you made the choices. If you choose to consent and are NOT informed, you should have educated yourself. Yes, the doula acted inappropriately, but you are responsible for following her advice. Just as, if you, say, have another birth and are upset that an OB talked you into a c-section that you later found out was not really necessary, YOU are responsible for the outcome, not the OB – the OB is just doing what is best in their mind, and they often see complications that aren’t really there because they are always LOOKING for problems. You should, while pregnant, learn under what conditions a c-section is truly an emergency and/or truly medically indicated. many women end up being upset about their birth experiences because they placed their trust in others. Take advice; research; trust yourself. Make informed decisions.

    I apologize for the blunt words, but I feel this post unnecessrily puts blame on doulas and might scare new mothers away from hiring a doula. I loved mine. She was great. She told me ahe was not a medical provider, but I knew that anyway, because I did my homework. Had she given me medical advice, I would have probably ignored it, definitely researched it for accuracy, reminded her of her role, and possibly found a different doula.

    All that being said, I am sorry for the happy birth you wanted and were robbed of; know better, do better. Congrats on the beautiful little girl!!

  92. A Sad Doula :( says:

    Thank you for sharing this painful story with us. You are brave to talk about your experience in such an open way. Your doula acted in ways that were clearly outside her scope of practice as well as violated multiple ethical boundaries. As a doula and a leader in the doula community, I would recommend that you contact the organization through which your doula is affiliated (even if she is just a member) in order to privately file a grievance. Doulas who behave in this way need to be held accountable and this is one way that you can protect other expectant parents from having to experience what you have lived through. Having been a part of a grievance committee in a doula organization in the past, the sad thing I’ve noticed is that doulas who often behave in this unprofessional manner seem to fly “under the radar” and do not get certification with a credible organization for this reason. You may still have some recourse so I would be happy to help you if I can. At the very least, your story illustrates a good reason to not hire a doula who does not have certification in a credible organization in case there should be any problems. Again I am sorry for your experience and how it has impacted your daughter’s birth.

  93. MB says:

    Hello Mama,

    For starters, I’d like to echo that this is not your fault and I hope you find the space to heal and not blame yourself forever.

    I had somewhat similar circumstances to you in birthing my now 19-month old amazing little guy. I was well aware of the cascade of interventions in birth and highly valued the natural cocktail of hormones for mama and baby to get through a vaginal birth. Not because I don’t value medicine, but because I prefer to approach anything with a “escalation of force” method. If you don’t need to mess with the process, don’t.

    I was under midwife care from 5months on. I feared birthing in a hospital because I was scared I would be railroaded. I was set to birth in their birth center. The midwives in my state are fully lisenced and certified by the state, albeit they are not nurse midwives.

    I went into labor at 41+5 after some assistance (acupuncture, chiropracty, nipple stimulation, primrose oil, etc) Once the contractions started picking up, I just knew the birth center was not the right place for me. I felt full of panic and fear, something that I had worked so hard, so carefully, to flush out prior to birth in order to ready my mind for this momentus event. I was not able to give up control and go within myself because I did not trust my care providers or environment. When I got to the birth center my HR and baby’s HR were way too high and my midwife was loving and gentle and explained to me, my doula, my husband that we had about 5-15 min to help get baby’s HR down or we would go to hosp right then, and asked would I let her help me. Which I did. But I just kept feeling like I needed to get to the hospital. I labored at the birth center for 20 hours with broken water before finally transferring. that whole time I kept insisiting I needed to go and my team kept reassuring me. I felt like I was performign circus tricks–well, let’s labor in the tub, on the ball, in the chair, try walking around the birth center to get this baby moved down some and readjust his posture (his head was crooked, which we later found out was because he entered the birth canal with his arm up and a hand on his forehead–but baby’s head unable to properly press on my cervix to push the positive feedback loop of contractions). I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, the exact thing I had feared about being in a hospital. It wasn’t until I started crying that the midwives got on board with me transferring. I even threatened to call 911 since I couldn’t drive myself but assured them no one could keep me there.

    At the hospital they discovered my infection, altough I am GBS neg so it wasn’t from that) and I went on IV abx. They did a cath and pulled out almost 2L of urine. I was already 10cm and with an infection so as it was explained to me, the epidural was not worth the risk of opening up my spine to possible infection. I felt soothed by the continuous fetal monitoring and was finally able to feel assured enough to unclentch my body in between contractions. Prior to that, it was just nonstop pain, I had no idea when contractions were even starting or stopping. My OB had a NICU contact team on standby in the room. And also like you, we had a dystocia. Doc went through many escalation of force procedures before we got my little one out.

    So I suppose my observations of your story, now that you have a little backround on where my perspective is coming from:

    It is almost unimaginable that bad things happen during birth. The loss of a baby or a mama is traumatic to everyone, in varying ways, yes even to the physician. Following a complicated birth, many people want to pinpoint the exact place or reason things went wrong, but sometimes there isn’t just one factor. It sounds like your doula was very very out of line, and while it may help you make sense of things for now to put it all squarely on her, I am wondering if you are in a place where you also can develop perspective on just how little control we have in our births. Not because we turn over control to anyone else, but because the best any of us–as mamas, physicians, midwives, nurses, doulas–can do, is to increase our statistical advantage. To process that maybe if you had done everything differently things would be better, diffferent, ok, but to imagine even if you had done everything “right” (which you were, in a way) that bad things could still happen–that’s hard.

    I am still trying to make sense of my birth experience. It felt like afterwards my doula wanted to point out where the midwives had screwed up, the midwives wanted to emphasize all they were going to do eventually (they were going to eventually do a catheter, they say, but letting someone have 2L in their bladder is rediculous).

    I think god for my OB, my L&D nurses, the NICU team. At one point my husband counted 17 people in the room. But am I villifying my midwives and doula too much?

    ( I am taking my MCATs this summer and then on my way to med school myself, by the way)

    So I think where we go wrong as a community–

    There is currently an us vs. them mentality in the birthing world. This hurts safety more than anything, I think. There are idiots and superstars on every side of the divide but en masse we all have the same goals–happy healthy mama and baby, we just disagree about how to get there.

    So back to the statistical advantage–Can homebirths/labors results in happy, healty babies and mamas? Yes. Can hospital births? Yes. Can they result in injured or ultimately dead mamas and babies. So sadly, yes. The bottom line is there are no absolutes. So what I would like to see is an open dialogue between OBs/hospitals and midwives/homebirth about what’s possible, what’s likely, and how together we best meet our common goal. The diviseness hurts us all and is rife with erroneous statistics on all sides of the debate.

    –Also important to note here, the OB I shadowed (who does home births) taught me “The plural of anecdote is not data”

    So while a doula may have many, many anecdotes–what she has seen/heard happen, or not seen/heard of ever happening–is primarily anecdote. S/he may even read up well and be very educated on the topic, but ultimately she is still in the anecdote category.

    Also, you picked that doula for more reasons than just her qualifications. You picked her because she already matched your schema but then she took it too far, to a dangerous place. While she behaved very, very unethically, what if there is no one to blame? Or what if we are looking in the wrong places for responsibility because what we fear the most is what could have been, and that it might become reality in the future in a subsequent birth? How can we prevent it if we can’t blame?

    I am considering finding a counselor who specializes in traumatic birth issues and other mama problems, also since at 3 weeks old my little one ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks with a picc line for bacterial meningitis. I hope you are able to some day do the same for yourself. You deserve forgiveness from yourself.

  94. Rachel says:

    Your doula did a lot of harm, I agree. BUT oxytocin and epidural are also possible causes for the shoulder dystocia. From the shoulder dystocia she had the lack of oxygen. So maybe this is why she said that at home it would have been better, forgeting about the sepsis.

    • Aidan's mom says:

      Oxytocin and epidural do NOT cause shoulder dystocia. There are different kinds of dystocia. Please be accurate. Slowing or prolonging the delivery because the shoulders are stuck due to the size of the baby in relation to the pelvis is shoulder dystocia. Oxytocin and epidural do NOT affect the size of the baby or pelvis or the shape of the pelvis.

    • BabyCatcher says:

      Those who are “blaming” the shoulder dystocia on epidurals need to remember, this woman REQUESTED an epidural-it is absolutely her right to have pain relief in labor. She had been doing all the tricks and they weren’t working. Let’s not put more blame on this woman than she already feels. She’s expressed guilt feelings for nearly every choice she made in her birth and for anyone to encourage more guilt is just wrong. On one hand I’m reading “trust your body, trust your instincts” then on the other hand I’m reading “you caused shoulder dystocia because you felt an epidural is what you needed.” I agree with what someone else said-seek out a consoler that specializes in traumatic birth-even if you feel like you’ve worked through it, this could be helpful.

  95. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As parents we are constantly comparing our experiences, child’s development, and parenting skills to those of other parents and their children. As mothers who go through a nine month process “learning as we go” we only want to help other first time mothers not go through the same awful experiences or learn things the hard way like we did.
    With being first time moms we take so much personally when it comes to the health and safety of our children. We feel responsible for not knowing all that we could and ultimately putting our beautiful bundle in harms way. I rejoice to the heavens that your baby girl is happy and healthy and I send up prayers for ALL mommies and their babies as we continue to “learn as we go” on this new journey set out in front of us. Peace to you and your family!

  96. Thank you so much for bravely sharing your story. I am so sorry that your doula took advantage of you. Too many doulas work outside of their scope of practice — I hope your story serves as a reminder and/or wake up call.

  97. SH says:

    I also had a bad experience with my chosen doula for my last birth. She didn’t really think I was in labor, or believed it would be some time when I first told her contractions had started. Baby #3, and a week late. My family gives birth very quickly. Eventually I had my husband tell her(again, via text, as she wanted my contractions ‘longer, stronger, closer together’ before she would come) that she was needed and to bring the midwives, as well. She chose not to tell the midwives I’d requested them and decided instead that she’d come and determine where I was first. Because of her decision, and her apparent inability to realize I was in fact in labor, the first midwife walked in 3min before my daughter crowned. While we were ok, what she did was not ok and put both my daughter and I in unnecessary risk should there had been a problem. She never apologized, never did my follow ups. Truly she was useless even during the time she was with me the whole 45mins before my daughter’s birth. She provided counter pressure once to my hips, I indicated it helped, and she walked away. Leaving my husband confused and trying to replicate it when he realized she wasn’t going to do it anymore. Unfortunately, the midwives I had went on to make a few small lies on my birth story to make it sound rock star and informed me that ‘some women just aren’t happy with their births.’ Refusing to acknowledge what happened was wrong- though I heard my doula admonished by one of them in the other room, from my bed as I recovered.
    I get what it’s like to have a horrible experience, especially in a small community. I’ve said little about what happened because I don’t want to risk being ostracized. I also know they aren’t all like this and we just got a bum deal. I hope your next birth goes much better, and I am making efforts to assure mine goes similarly.

    • Aidan's mom says:

      So sorry! One of the first things I learned (and took to heart) was to NEVER dismiss what a laboring woman told me! Especially a mom who has done it before! “Never turn your back on a multip!”

  98. Melanie says:

    My daughter had a C section with her first birth and it hurt her greatly that she couldn’t have a natural birth. Her 2nd delivery was VBAC and may I say BECAUSE of a WONDERFUL DOULA she had a dream birth. This doula you had sounds like a frustrated doctor wannabe. It’s so hard to believe that anyone would encourage LYING to cover a bad decision. I can’t say bells should have gone off-I would rather say that sirens SHOULD HAVE BEEN BLARING. Doulas have no medical experience. Word to the wise. Run when one begins doling out medical advice pertaining to the most important event in a woman’s entire life. Trust your doctor or find one that do.

  99. More than anything else, I want to thank you and acknowledge your bravery for sharing your birth experience. I also want you to heal emotionally to the fullest extent possible. An experience as harrowing as this can really do a job on you, and I hope you are able to further heal and gain confidence in your own abilities as a woman as a result of writing this article. For the record, I am both a doula and a healthcare professional. I see things in a very unique light due to this strange combination of roles. It’s sad that your journey was so difficult, yet joyous that your now have a beautiful, healthy, happy girl. I am happy on your behalf that things worked out as well as they did in the long term, and hopeful that you will be blessed enough to get to have another birth experience; one that will hopefully allow you to feel more appropriately empowered. Not a “do-over”, but instead a “do-differently now that you have a different set of information.” But as a woman this experience is part of what defines you. For this reason I am glad that you have chosen to do what you need to do to release any remaining angst you may have about your birth story. I have no doubt that you did what you found to be the best thing at the time. And you learned a lot. Nobody is perfect, so try not to be too hard on yourself. I hope that writing this helps your to view your experience in a more positive light and helps others to avoid potential downfalls as they journey through their pregnancies and deliveries. Best wishes to you and your family!

  100. Anonymous says:

    PPP
    labor nurse for 20 yrs forget the doula do not waist ur money go for the epidural and get a good doctor if u have a friend in Labor and del they can refer u to the best drs

  101. Anonymous says:

    I know there are a lot of comments and you will probably never read mine, but. I wanted to let you know as an L&D nurse and a future midwife that you hold no blame in your daughters outcome!! You did what you thought was right for yourself with the information that you had. Even though you had a lot of misinformation given to you by a trusted source, you stuck it out as long as you could and gave your daughter your best. I wish all my moms I labor have what you do. You are awesome. The best lessons we learn are often the hardest to obtain. Use your voice. Spread the word. You rock.

    • I just wanted you to know that I have read every single comment, and felt the weight of each and every one! And thank you so much for your support. You make me breathe easier.

      My best to you!

      • Charles says:

        I am an OB….The Enemy to this Doula. Understanding your role in the peri partum period is vital to safe outcomes. You were unfortunately led down a comedy of errors. I routinely work with doulas and midwives. They provide comfort care at a level above what I can do. This is great. I have taken care of quite a few drop in catastrophic home births/labors managed by doulas and/or midwives. This is hard on everyone if communication is poor or in your case, deliberate deviance from the standard of care. Healthy baby….healthy mom. My only two goals. Occasionally doulas corner Pts into thinking that doctors are acting in their best interest. If this polarity between physician and doula cannot be overcome, unfortunately the first one to be removed from the process will be the doula. I thank god, and to some extent novel therapies like Cool Cap, for creating a child that is so resilient to injury. This makes up for the malicious advice and flat out lies given by your doula.

  102. Ginger Peel says:

    As a RN of almost 35 years & a practicing NICU nurse for 17 years , your story is just heartbreaking. I also would urge you to report this doula. Sadly,I’ve seen GBS cause serious issues , and many times death. I’m greatful your story has a happy ending. Blessings today & on your future pregnancies.

  103. Anonymous says:

    God bless you in your emotional recovery. May you feel His love for you as you do and as you glory in the miracle of your daughter’s recovery.

  104. I am so sorry your birth went in this direction, but thankfully you have a beautiful and healthy daughter. Like you I desperately wanted a natural, unmedicated birth. I am lucky my doula treated her role appropriately and only helped my husband and I advocate for ourselves to refuse pitocin, and she helped soothe me and ease my guilt when it became apparent that an epidural really would be necessary. I’m sorry yours abused her role.

  105. KnowledgeisPower says:

    While you did receive poor advice, ultimately the responsibility for your child’s safety is yours. I feel like you are trying to lay the entirety of culpability at the doula’s feet. Without a doubt, she should be reported to a crediting agency and you should make known within the birthing/lactation community the advice she gave. With that being said, the onus to do responsible research and education is the mother’s.

    With my first, I wanted and gratefully had a natural childbirth. I read so many books, peer-reviewed articles, and even opinion pieces that any one of the pieces of advice you describe would have immediately sent up a red flag. I am so very glad that your daughter has defied the odds and is healthy. My intention is not to belittle you, but rather that I wish your writing had stressed the importance of a knowledge-empowered mother rather than “beware of doulas because one gave horrendous care.”

    • It was creatively not my intent to warn the world against using doulas. In fact, in my post, I stated I’d most definitely use one if I had another baby.

      And me posting this is evidence of my own culpability. The choices I made, however ill-advised, we’re still my own choices. My point in posting this was to help others avoid the same pitfalls.

  106. Thank you for sharing your difficult story with everyone. I have been a doula for over 13 years and this is just so unconscionable on every level. It is doulas like this that make a bad name for us (is there a word worse than “bad”?). Most doulas do not view doctors as an enemy or the medical staff. We are never to give medical advice. If you ask us a medical question, yes, we’re here for education but not to tell you concretely what to do. We point you to *appropriate* resources and allow the parents to make decisions. It is not our birth, it is not our body, it is not our baby. I am very sorry this happened to you and your family. Please know not to discount all doulas as you shouldn’t discount all other professions based upon the actions of one unhinged, uneducated individual. Bright blessings to you.

  107. Your story resonated with me. I, too, received advice from my doula that went against my OBs advice. She advised not having a c/s when the ob recommended it. I initially was going to follow my doula’s advice. But With the help of family I went with the OBs advice & am glad I did. This, all whole I was in medical school. It can happen to anyone. All first time moms are scared & want what’s best. I wanted to tell you not to blame yourself & to let you know how easily it can happen to intelligent well meaning women. My son turned 4 yesterday & is happy & healthy. I will be completing my training as a pediatrician in June & starting my training as a Neonatologist.

    Babies, like your daughter are resilient, which is part of the reason I love taking care of them. The nicu nurses tell awful stories about the days before treating the mom’s with antibiotics during labor. Never mess with gbs. And shoulder dystocias are unpredictable & scary. I’m sorry to say medical advice from unlicensed individuals is becoming more common. All the more reason your story needs to be spread for women to read. Thank you and take care.

  108. Ob doc says:

    Thank you for posting this! As a practicing obgyn physician we sadly see this every day. And I just want to make sure that you understand, that this was not your fault. Unless you have gone to medical school and completed an obgyn residency, even if you read a multitude of Internet “research” you cannot possibly understand the risks you take on as a pregnant woman.

    As far as I’m aware, none of the doctors go into medicine with an intent to harm patients or to do what’s convenient for me. We all go into this profession to save the world, one patient at a time. I am a woman and my first priority, always, is a healthy mother who can take care of her healthy newborn.

    We are here for you, for the times of complications and scary times. We are ecstatic, when you have zero “medical interventions” and have a “natural birth”. But I remind you, that maternal death is natural, so is perinatal death. These are natural occurrences which we have vowed to try to prevent with the medical advances that we have today.

    I could go on and on and make some comments to the misguided people posting above, but it’s not worth it. I shiver reading your story because before you even got to the end, I knew the outcome. Please don’t blame yourself for anything you did, I think, without knowing you, that you are a strong woman to share this and an awesome mother. There are zero reasons to avoid “natural birth” on your next child, and I promise it will be significantly better than the first. No fear, we are here for you, whether you deem us to be the enemy or not.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. I think we’ve had a myriad of angry doctors today. I don’t mind for myself, but I don’t want them to scare other naturally-minded mothers away. Your soothing tone and helpful nature will hopefully make mothers see that there *are* kind doctors out there who truly want to help!

      (And I know that all doctors want to help, in some capacity. Some just don’t know how to speak kindly to misinformed patients.)

  109. Concerned Midwife says:

    Wow. So much going through my mind after reading this and the comments. I should add that it seems that this post was MOSTLY to let people know that a doula is not a medical professional. This is great advice for any expectant mom. A wonderful reminder.

    As a midwife (CPM), I am absolutely HORRIFIED by this doula giving this information to you. I practice very conservatively and any mom under my care would have been on antibiotics. Well, quite frankly, you would not have been under my care with the GD. It is a well known fact that GD can cause shoulder dystocia (due to a larger baby). Being a bit more mobile would have possibly helped, but not always. I am sure the doctor did everything possible to get the baby out safely at that point. I have seen several shoulder dystocias in my practice. They are terrifying and make me want to become a waitress. ; ) I can’t believe that your ‘experienced’ doula told you that shoulder dystocias do not really ever happen. I also cannot imagine her telling you to lie to your provider about when you ruptured! I would be SO upset to find out a client lied to me about something that important!

    The doctors that I transfer to in my area have a wonderful relationship with us. Though I don’t always agree with how healthy births are ‘managed’ by an OB, I also can’t possibly imagine being ‘anti-doctor’. We are so blessed to have skilled surgeons/providers when we need them! Even I had both of my babies in a hospital via c-section due to pre-eclampsia.

  110. Bridget Davis says:

    I had a difficult labor with my first in which I pushed for 3 hours, he became stuck, and I was rushed into a emergency c-section. He was perfectly the healthy. But the good news I wanted to share was that I was able to have a successful V-BAC without complications. I was under watchful care and had a WONDERFUL labor and delivery nurse and very supportive obstetricians. I was nervous up until the baby was delivered. Of course, every case is different. My two labors were completely different. But I just wanted to let you know that a bad experience the first time around doesn’t mean it will necessarily be that way the second time. There is hope. How brave to share your story! And so helpful to others. Education is the key. I am so glad everything turned out well for you and your little one. Good luck to you in the future.

  111. Lorraine says:

    I just don’t understand where people get the idea that as soon as you enter the hospital, you are forced to undergo all sorts of procedures and interventions that you don’t want. Even in the hospital, you can say NO to any procedure or medication that you feel is not in your best interests. Nobody can force you to do anything you don’t want to do!! The medical staff are not there to try to force anything on you, they are there to do their best to ensure that you and your baby have as good and as healthy experience as possible.

  112. Anonymous says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.
    I’m a maternity nurse and mum of two who also strongly values informed choice in childbirth. I’m happy to hear that you would try for a vaginal delivery again, and hire a doula again. You are so right that most are fabulous women who understand their role in providing comfort and support to women and their partners in labour, and not medical advice or interference between women and their care providers.
    Your daughter is beautiful :)

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