“Judgement free? Can I write that on my birth plan?

I just don’t know how I will act when I am in labor, but in my normal life, worrying about what people think of me, keeps me from doing things sometimes.

I want to feel uninhibited when I’m in labor.”

What the fuck?!?!

Why is this something that American women even have to wonder about?!?! A wonderful and wise mother asked this question at our Women’s Prenatal Discussion Group a while back. We were talking about birth plans and she said, “I don’t want to be judged the next time I’m in labor. Is that ok to write on my birth plan?” My heart broke…

People ask us all of the time, “what does a Doula do?” My response is different based on who is asking the question. Sometimes I keep it real surface and sometimes I go deeper into the explanation.

A Doula brings a sense of normalcy to birth. She validates a woman and her partner and they feel free to embrace the experience because she is with them. She encourages them to learn and discover themselves and their philosophies during pregnancy and through the birth and postpartum period. A role that is taken on by no other birth professional.

A doula makes it feel absolutely normal to make noise during labor or move in a way that doesn’t seem normal when you are not in labor. In fact, she will make the noise with you, and she will move with you in those “abnormal” ways.

In this area, we are very fortunate. I attend births at Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Cortlandt Manor, NY. I share office space with amazing doctors and hospital based midwives that respect their patients AND their patients birth wishes. I work with the most incredible nursing staff on EARTH! You know who you are, ladies!

I attended a birth yesterday. I (and my client) had the good fortune to be with a nurse named, Melissa Creighton. At one point, my client apologized for being in Melissa’s way while she was trying to monitor the baby. Melissa’s beautiful response was, “you are not in my way, I am in your way and I apologize”.

I read so much online about difficult and judgmental nurses and providers that are condescending and show a lack of respect to women during birth. It is something that I don’t have the misfortune of experiencing but I know it exists. If only I could figure out why a bridezilla on her wedding day gets more respect than a pregnant woman giving birth to her child….

As Doulas, we play a huge role in this. We must go into every labor room free of judgment. Not only free of judgment towards our clients and their choices, but free of judgment of the hospital, providers, nurses and necessary medical interventions. When we go into birth facilities with an expectation of negativity, we are sure to get it. When we are positive, friendly and respectful, that energy fills the birth room and we are more likely to get that back for ourselves as well as our clients.


Authored by: Randy Patterson