How does a doula fit in with the other members of my birth team?

“I was told I can’t have a doula,” or “I thought doctors do not like doulas.”

Doulas work in harmony with your medical team; we provide an additional benefit of continuous trained labor support in a one-on-one way that doctors and nurses cannot. We do not argue or contradict your doctor; we does not speak to the staff or doctor for you or make any decisions for you; and we do not replace the nursing staff. During pregnancy, we may provide information which you can discuss with your doctor; and during labor, we may remind you of your own previously made choices. However, we choose to speak only to you and your husband/partner, letting you choose to discuss any questions with your doctor.

At a hospital, a doctor cannot forbid you from bringing a doula into the room to act as your chosen support person unless you allow him or her to order the removal of your doula from your room; according to the American Hospital Association’s “Patient’s Bill of Rights”, every pregnant patient has the right “to be accompanied during the stress of labor and birth by someone she cares for, and to whom she looks for emotional comfort and encouragement.”

If a doctor threatens to withhold treatment if you hire a doula, his/her behavior is not only unethical, but it may also be considered illegal. If your care provider withdraws his/her care for your case because of his/her discomfort with your choices, the physician is legally obligated to provide an alternative physician who is able to care for you while respecting your choices. For more information, ask your state bar association or your own legal counsel about “patient abandonment” and about your rights as a pregnant patient. If you have ever been made to feel coerced or threatened because of your choice of support person, please report this behavior to your health insurance patient representative, to the hospital administrator of patient rights, the hospital legal department, and your own private legal counsel.