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A well known doula agency upset me....


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  #1  
October 30th, 2010, 11:15 PM
missmich
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I feel like I need to do something about it. I couldn't think of another title for my thread. This is the message the agency sent me tonight when I said I was disappointed in the way they treated me when I was assigned a doula by them,it didn't work out b/c I didn't feel a connection and didn't feel supported when I mentioned some stress I was having with family. Months ago when I told the doula I was stressed and worried about some things she didn't seem supportive in her e-mails back to me,the agency told me I crossed the line by telling her I had stress and that kind of thing wasn't in their mandate. I'd asked for a volunteer doula b/c I really couldn't afford to pay for one and was all alone. They wanted me to pay for taxi the doula would take to my house,the hospital then home and for the doulas day of work if she missed it to be at my birth. At first I agreed to the taxi,but then realized after doing some budgeting I really could not and I explained this to the doula and the agency. Please tell me your opinions and what you think I should do.

Here is what she wrote me:


"Agency" is for really, really, poor and needy women. Not women who have the luxury to see to their emotional needs. You were taking important time and energy away from "Agency's" mandate when you were requesting classic doula services. You self-referred, which we do not allow any more, so that we will not run into this situation again. The women we serve do not have access to email and many of them do not have phones, some of them do not have a place to live. So you will understand our reticence about being especially kind and sympathetic to your emotions.

When I take on private clients, of course I work within the understanding that you laid out (rather presumptuously, actually, since I am certainly twice your age and definitely much more knowledgeable about the doula's role). But you had requested the "agency" service, which is very simple and basic.

Now that you understand our position, I hope you will consider "agency" when you next want to make a donation.
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  #2  
October 30th, 2010, 11:55 PM
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Wow. That doesn't seem like an email that should come from someone who is supposed to be supporting and caring for women. I think you're lucky you didn't have them at your birth. Last time I checked 'seeing to your emotions' was part of having a healthy pregnancy, birth, being a mom - oh and generally having a healthy life.
I think I would tell them - I hope they are more emotionally available and supportive to these very very poor women.
Seems odd the caring must be purchased from a volunteer doula.
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  #3  
October 31st, 2010, 01:00 AM
missmich
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I did tell them how I felt by sending them,well just this one woman who runs the organization how I felt and what I thought a doula was. Her response IMO was a little rude and condescending. I want to tell people there are other doulas that would great to have and not to be afraid to go elsewhere and look for one even though they don't think they can afford one. I don't want to mention the name of this place though in case I could get into trouble.

I did make a little movie about it though and I posted it to my facebook. You can watch it here if you want to.

Disappointing Doula Services
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  #4  
October 31st, 2010, 04:13 AM
mgm78's Avatar Zoe's mom Meredith
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HOLY COW. That totally misses the point of having a doula. My doula and I met and I filled her in on some family issues I have and the emotions I was having around it and that it may come up during labor and delivery. I actually contacted a local doula agency for low cost doula services, etc and they could not have been nicer to me. Unfortunately, most of their doulas lived in the city and I was at a suburban birth center. That letter to you is super condescending. She also assumes because you have a phone or internet access that you are not at need? ***? The library has internet for free and phones can be super cheap. Wow.
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  #5  
October 31st, 2010, 07:31 AM
missmich
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I know! It seems like this well known volunteer organization gives 2 different levels of services. If it's for low income,and they don't even say low income they say "needy" women they get less "care" and if you're able to pay then they help with your emotions.

I do understand that some doula offer a lot of extra services,for example a birth story or help with housework after or whatever,depending on what type of doula they are. I do think they should all include caring for the emotional needs of the mama should be considered part of the "simple and basic" care they provide. I'm sure most doulas would agree.
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  #6  
October 31st, 2010, 08:20 AM
Kelllilee's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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that's just awful! I posted it on my FB too since I have several doula friends. I'm interested to hear their input
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  #7  
October 31st, 2010, 10:53 AM
missmich
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thank you for posting it. i'd like to hear what they think too.
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  #8  
October 31st, 2010, 11:00 AM
monica8's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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That is such a rude email. Even if she thinks your overstepping their services, it is totally a slap in the face. Then asking you to donate to them after all that?! Absurd.

I think a little emotional support goes without saying in the role of being a doula. Not anything life changing, but if you're going to have someone at your birth, you at least want to trust them. I'd think "needy" people would be even more "stressed" anyways, so I don't know how they wouldn't be able to handle that.
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  #9  
October 31st, 2010, 11:15 AM
HappyHippy's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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That saddens me a lot. Doulas are suppose to be labor supporters, and women supporters. I'm a former Doula and I would take on any woman no matter what their needs are because all women have different needs. I understand being an agency for poor women, but if they allow non-poor women to use them then they should be supporting them too. I think perhaps they are in the wrong type of business
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  #10  
October 31st, 2010, 12:05 PM
missmich
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What saddens me is that this woman I had contact is really well known and well liked. I actually heard about her on a forum before I found that she and another woman ran this organization that offers volunteer doulas.

I don't know what a doula is for if not to support a woman emotionally. I mean before I read what a doula should do I assumed it was to help them learn about what happens during pregnancy,labor and birth and help the woman make a birth plan and understand certain things and to also help a little with some of the emotional things that come along with being pregnant and being in labor.

I had some stress with my father and I mentioned this to my doula and asked if she knew some stress relief tips. That was crossing the line. I'm so glad that I hadn't yet mentioned the more serious issues I had and thought that my doula and doctor should know about,some issues with past childhood abuse that may come up for women in labor.

When I spoke with 2 different doulas later on and explained my idea of a doula they said I was right and that a doula should support a woman emotionally and listen to their fears and offer them ways to cope with panic attacks etc...

My doula was great with this! She listened to me and offered advice or asked me what I thought would help me,she held my hand during labor but she also left me alone to deal with contractions so that I could feel independent during my birth. She believes in offering the same service to all women weather they pay or not.

I found my wonderful doula randomly on the internet,but it turns out she also works with an agency that was able to pay her. They sent me a form to fill out,an evaluation and they asked for a donation as well. I don't have much money but will try and give them a little if I can b/c she and the back up doula were both amazing!
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  #11  
October 31st, 2010, 02:44 PM
PixieQueen's Avatar Hi-Tech Hippie
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This is what the DONA website defines a doula as:

What is a doula?

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

A Birth Doula

* Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
* Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
* Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
* Stays with the woman throughout the labor
* Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
* Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
* Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
* Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level


I just want to slap her! And then asking for a donation?! Are you kidding? And because you aren't on the street you apparently have tons of money! And now she's denying other women who might "self-refer" because she's embarrassed that you called her on her lack of sympathy and knowledge! Grr!
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Last edited by PixieQueen; October 31st, 2010 at 02:51 PM.
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  #12  
October 31st, 2010, 02:53 PM
Kelllilee's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Here's what a doula friend of mine posted in response :

"The whole POINT of doula services is tending to emotional needs! Argh."
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  #13  
October 31st, 2010, 03:30 PM
missmich
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I know! If a doula wasn't going to be there for my emotional needs then why would I have one there at all? I knew I needed a doula b/c I was going to be alone in the hospital to give birth and I'd have no one to support me emotionally at all if I didn't have one. I think I could have done some of what the doula does on my own in terms of learning about pregnancy and childbirth and pain management techniques,I did actually but my doula taught me a lot as well. I couldn't have done all of the motional stuff though. I did have some issues that I thought might come up and actually in the end I was scared and really needed a hand to hold and someone to "take care of me" b/c I'd started to panic. I don't think my nurse would have done the same as a doula would have for me.

When it was decided that I wouldn't use a doula from this agency the woman told me to be self reliant. That's what pregnancy and birth was all about and since I was going to be a single mom soon I'd have someone relying on me all the time and I should learn to be more self reliant. Well,sorry but I think that asking for help when you need it IS a part of being self reliant.
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  #14  
October 31st, 2010, 03:34 PM
PixieQueen's Avatar Hi-Tech Hippie
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Wth? I think this woman is in the wrong line of work. It's like those people who hate children but become teachers. Why do that? Is she DONA certified? If she is maybe you should report her to them. It just doesn't sound to me like she's fulfilling her role properly.
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  #15  
October 31st, 2010, 04:16 PM
missmich
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I think that she is DONA certified. She's also well known here for being a great doula. She also trains doulas!!! She's all over the net and people think she's so great and giving with her organization. It makes me so angry the way she responded to me. Even her own website states that a doula provided emotional support. That's on the website for both her personal doula services and the volunteer one.
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  #16  
November 3rd, 2010, 11:40 AM
Caelen's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Man, I would have been hurt by that email. Its just dripping with snottiness!

If they had all these guidelines, why weren't you told initially?? Why were you not told "this is what we do, this is what we don't do" ...?

It seems to me like they're saving their tushes because they know they f'd up. I don't know what I'd do.. is there a board you could report them to or at least complain to? That just doesn't sound supportive to a pregnant woman.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mgm78 View Post
HOLY COW. That totally misses the point of having a doula. My doula and I met and I filled her in on some family issues I have and the emotions I was having around it and that it may come up during labor and delivery. I actually contacted a local doula agency for low cost doula services, etc and they could not have been nicer to me. Unfortunately, most of their doulas lived in the city and I was at a suburban birth center. That letter to you is super condescending. She also assumes because you have a phone or internet access that you are not at need? ***? The library has internet for free and phones can be super cheap. Wow.
Not to mention, media services aren't that expensive! We pay under 40 a month for both phone and cable internet. Little does that pompous lady know, budgeting can go a long way!
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  #17  
November 3rd, 2010, 11:47 AM
Caelen's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missmich View Post
I know! If a doula wasn't going to be there for my emotional needs then why would I have one there at all? I knew I needed a doula b/c I was going to be alone in the hospital to give birth and I'd have no one to support me emotionally at all if I didn't have one. I think I could have done some of what the doula does on my own in terms of learning about pregnancy and childbirth and pain management techniques,I did actually but my doula taught me a lot as well. I couldn't have done all of the motional stuff though. I did have some issues that I thought might come up and actually in the end I was scared and really needed a hand to hold and someone to "take care of me" b/c I'd started to panic. I don't think my nurse would have done the same as a doula would have for me.

When it was decided that I wouldn't use a doula from this agency the woman told me to be self reliant. That's what pregnancy and birth was all about and since I was going to be a single mom soon I'd have someone relying on me all the time and I should learn to be more self reliant. Well,sorry but I think that asking for help when you need it IS a part of being self reliant.
I hate hate hate this mentality. Self reliance and being scared in a scary situation (labor isn't always scary, but its emotionally trying sometimes!) are totally different. I really don't like that "oh grow up" idea. There's nothing wrong with wanting someone on your side when you're in labor. Yep, sure, baby will be relying on you but you already know that, you don't need her to tell you. I wanted my husband there to hold my hand when I had my wisdom tooth removed.. maybe I should be more self reliant.. I wanted him there when I birthed DS.. wait maybe I should be more self reliant.. pfffft.
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  #18  
November 4th, 2010, 09:29 AM
missmich
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I think our ideas of self reliance are very different,this doula and I. I think that being self reliant is all about knowing when you need help and going out and asking for that help and support. For many women birth is a big scary and exciting new thing for them. You don't really know what to expect and it's nice to have someone experienced or at least educated about birth,different types of births to be there with you to help get you through it and keep you calm and focused.

I had a great meeting with my doula yesterday and she was shocked at what this woman said to me. She trained with this woman! She agreed that what I said and did wasn't over the line or anything.

I think what I'll do is talk to the 2 agencies that refer clients to them and see what thy think. It really isn't fair to treat them less and give them less then what they'd give to a private paying client. IMO the only exception is if the doula offers something like a birth story,placenta encapsuleation,etc.... that doesn't have to included in what they could provide as volunteer doulas.
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  #19  
November 4th, 2010, 10:06 AM
Caelen's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Glad you found someone that seems to have a better idea of how to treat their clients. I personally think your definition of self reliance is pretty good. Knowing when you need help is a sign of strength and shouldn't be scoffed at.
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  #20  
November 4th, 2010, 01:16 PM
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Gosh - the more you tell of this story - the madder I get at this woman. She really shouldn't be training other people. IDK maybe she just needs a break and to take some time to re evaluate what she is doing - but she really sounds like she's lost her way.
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