Ask A Doula: My client’s doctor doesn’t allow doulas!

Q So I got hired by a friend of a friend to be her birth doula and she’s already paid my whole fee! Yay! But today in my doula Facebook group someone said something about this doctor not “allowing doulas” so I called the doctor’s office and asked about it. The lady I talked to (not the doctor, someone from his office though) said it’s true. He doesn’t work with doulas. I asked what would happen if someone brought a doula anyway and she said he would make the doula leave. I don’t know what to do now! She’s already paid me and she doesn’t know and I am worried if I tell her I’ll lose her as a client.

A This is a really bad place to be, and I’m sorry you’re stuck there. Unfortunately, you do have to tell her. If you don’t, walking into her birth knowing there is an almost certainty that you will get kicked out really does her a disservice. Some would say you should lie and claim to be a friend of family member, but I am not a fan of this approach as it can cause issues down the road when you inevitably run into the same nurses at other births. I would suggest you approach your client and let her know what you’ve learned. Ask her how she feels about that. The decision about what to do lies with your client. Some people might decide they are switching doctors at that point, and some might not be willing to switch. You might lose this client if she chooses to stick with her care provider, so be prepared to refund her if that happens.

However, she might decide to move to a new care provider, so I would come to the meeting with some names of doula-friendly care providers to recommend she look into. Bring names of both doctors and midwives. I prefer to stay away from the terms “good doctor” and “bad doctor” and instead talk about finding a “good match” with a care provider who is good at providing the kind of care that is compatible with her birth plan.

You might also reach out to the doulas in your local group for ideas on how to handle this, as it sounds like you’re not the first one to run into this. In the future, if you get an inquiry from someone using this doctor, you can say “I’d love to be your doula, but I know that Dr. Controller does not work with doulas and has been known to kick them out of the room, so I’m not sure that’s possible.”

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