Doulas and Nurses - Raleigh Birth Doula
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
I recently took a new group of mentee doulas on a tour of the labor and delivery floor of REX Women's Center in Raleigh. The tour was led by one of the nurse managers, Lauren Hess, who I have had the privilege of getting to know and connect with.
At one point in the tour, I asked her what advice she would give to this group of new doulas about how to best communicate with and work with the labor and delivery nurses during a birth.
This is an important question because there is a perception in the birth community sometimes that nurses and doulas have a hard time getting along or are prone to butt heads. Personally, I have rarely found that to be true in my 6+ years of doula work, but my goal in raising up new doulas is to make sure that perceptions like this become a thing of the past, so for any other doulas out there who want to know how to dissolve tensions in the delivery room here is some advice from one seasoned nursing manager:
1. Be Kind and Respectful: Let's just get this one out of the way right now. Nurses are people and people like to be treated with kindness and respect. If you come into the birth space on the defensive and talk to the nurse like she doesn't know what she's doing she's not going to take it well. Would you? If you have a question about something that the nurse is doing than just ask her the question. If it looks like she may have forgotten a preference from your client's birth plan than kindly remind her and understand that her brain is running in a million different directions and processing information that you know nothing about.
2. You're On the Same Team: All nurses want their patients to be well taken care of. If a nurse seems territorial its because she loves her job and her patients. Show her that you are there to love on the patient too and she will likely let her guard down.
3. Take Care of Your Client: Similar to the statement above. Nurses want to see you providing care to your client. Often doulas, especially new doulas, are afraid to keep working with a client or talking with a client when the nurse is in the room. If you do this it will likely make your nurse think that you are not providing good care to the patient and make her feel like she needs to be more present in spite of the fact that you are there. She wants to see you working and be assured that the patient is in good hands.
4. Work Together: Don't be afraid to make suggestions and ask questions. If you think that your client might benefit from a change in positions but she is laboring with an epidural, ask the nurse for help. Just again, handle it with respect. Remember that while you might know more about your client's preferences and worries and concerns the nurse knows more about how to support the birth of a healthy baby. Work together and respect that you each have different roles to play if the nurse is concerned about using a certain position because of a history of fetal heart rate decels or high blood pressure than work together to try and find a different solution.