Relationships- Good or Beware?
I think it is great when a doctor or midwife practice has a relationship with a childbirth educator or doula. It means that there is a sense of trust that what is being taught or the way someone supports a woman in birth or postpartum is good. I like being on several lists that offices give out. The referrals most often go both ways. When we feel a woman is respected and her wishes honored, it gives us a sense of our referrals will be supportive of what the woman’s birth ideals are. We do tend to quickly find the practices we love to work with. Although it is great to find new ones, it is more often we are reaffirmed as to why some practices who do not support women’s choices are ones we never refer to.
But when a doctors office gives you one referral- says this is who we are “partnered” with and there is an exclusivity to the referral it sends up a red flag for me personally. If someone attends a hospital birth class or a doctors’ office provided class, where payment is being made to the hospital and then the hospital pays the educator, it makes me keenly aware that the hospital controls what is being taught. That does not mean it will be bad, but it often does mean it will be biased. When a doctors’ office says this is the doula group I want you to work with, it means that there may be control in that relationship. It is not that different from a hospital doula program. There are some awesome ones out there across the country- but others I have been made aware of by talking to others who work in such programs have told me they are controlled. Being told what you can not do- even when it is within your scope of practice, or told what you can not say or teach- although it is evidenced based, is never good!
I think the key is exclusivity. Can you go outside their referral? Do they make you feel you have to “obey” them? That is a huge red flag! This is your birth! This is for you to determine who is the best fit for you. If they want to control these things you have to ask yourself, why? Do they control the educators and doulas whom they refer out to? Do they hold expectations for them to be on the same page as them, rather than looking out for your best interest? Couldn’t they be working for the doctor or hospital instead of you?
The days of doing whatever my doctor or hospital tells me to do should be gone. It is time to make decisions that are the right decisions for you as an individual. Otherwise when the outcome is not as you had hoped, will you take responsibility or will you be quick to blame your care provider who you listened to without questioning the things you did not understand or believe to be true for you? You can not have it both ways. You either need to believe it is right and understand it- and take responsibility for your birth or you have to let yourself be led blindly and then accept the outcome as one where you were not making the decisions- but indeed your lack of being fully involved is the decision that you are responsible for. Your relationship with your care providers needs to be one of respect- both ways- where they offer guidance and you are able to ask questions or decide to go in a different direction and still be accepted.
Birth is yours- take it back! But that means taking responsibility! Make the choices that are right for you! Surround yourself with those who will fully support you as a strong informed person.