Hospital Doula Experiences: The Machine That Goes PING!

Just over a year ago, I was a doula at a hospital birth for a couple I didn’t know well. They’d hired me late in her pregnancy, and she was planning a hospital birth. It was not a very unmedicated-birth-friendly hospital, but the mom wasn’t 100% certain she wanted an unmedicated birth.

While at the hospital, mom was doing well for a while, but things got intense for her around 6cm (this hospital did a lot of vaginal exams ). Around the same time, one of the monitors stopped working. She wasn’t on continuous fetal monitoring, so I don’t recall why exactly this was such an issue, but it was.

It was an issue. It was an ISSUE!

My client’s nurse called some other nurses on the floor, none of whom could fix the problem. She eventually called the charge nurse. The charge nurse couldn’t figure it out. The charge nurse called the IT department, and two men from IT came to work on it.

Back when I was getting my iron infusions, while pregnant with Porcelain, the IT department was there during one of my infusions. They were fixing something with the computers, and it was really weird. There were all these people with cancer getting their chemo, and I was heavily pregnant and getting my iron — and then there were these IT guys chattering about computers and TVs and other stuff while they tried to re-program the computer. Normally the infusion center was a very quiet, calm place — the nurses and doctors tried to maintain that mood — and having random IT guys there just changed the ambiance.

And so it was for my client — except this time the nurses didn’t even seem to notice that they’d completely changed the mood of the room, or didn’t care. I literally cringe thinking about my client laboring at 6cm while two strange men stood a few feet away, talking about the computer systems and asking if any of the other rooms on the hall were having that problem. And it was loud, the machine was beeping, everyone was talking. It really bothered me. My client was laboring and nobody thought, “Maybe we should talk about this outside the room. Maybe she needs to concentrate, or it’s difficult for her to relax with all of us in the room.”

Then again, maybe the nurses — and the IT department — were so used to women with epidurals who are not as conscientious of their labors, that they didn’t realize my client was unmedicated and experiencing intense contractions.

Either way, it was icky for me. I pretty much stopped working as a doula after that. There were other reasons — mostly my family — but I do not miss walking into hospitals with clients and not knowing what’s going to happen to them there.

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