Doulas Northwest | $39.95 For Skin To Skin In The OR
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04 Oct $39.95 For Skin To Skin In The OR

Recently, when the photo of a patient’s hospital bill went viral, an interesting, but troubling thing happened.


In a matter of hours: natural birth activists, breastfeeding activists, doulas and other individuals began the shaming of hospitals and doctors, labelling the whole lot as “evil”.


What was so horrible about this patient’s bill that it would cause this kind of reaction? A charge of $39.95 for “skin to skin after csec”.


That’s right. The hospital charged a family forty bucks for the event of enjoying their initial skin to skin in the OR, immediately following the mother’s cesarean birth.


And for a brief second, I can understand the double take going on here.

“What? Charged for holding their baby?” is a common sentiment going around, which makes sense until you stop and think about the big picture here.


For many years, cesarean births have taken place with strict protocols in place, including restrictions on skin to skin or breastfeeding in the operating room. Our OBs, Nurses, Anesthesiologists, and other OR staff have been trained and expected to adhere to these protocols whether they have been in agreement with them or not.


You read that right: whether they have been in agreement with them or not.


At the same time, doulas and other activists who call themselves doulas, have been establishing and fostering a divide between themselves and the medical professionals we rely on in hospitals.


There have been years of yelling, name calling, picketing, direct and implied teachings in doula trainings, and other political style campaigns all directed at bringing attention to issues needing improvement within our birth culture. Years. Enough years, that doulas in general are stereotyped as “one of those”, as “a natural birth nut”, and as “against doctors & the medical system.”


I don’t know about you, but I’m over it. I’m tired of having to convince every person I come across that I do not wish to be divisive. That I am not against any medical care provider in my area. That in fact, I appreciate and respect the OBs, CNMs, and Nurses who care for our community’s families!


Let’s think about this hospital bill mentioned above from another perspective.


Let’s think about the changes in protocol (that are GOOD changes) that have allowed another family to experience skin to skin in the OR. The fact that these changes are moving closer to the standard is amazing! We should be celebrating this.


Let’s consider that because it required a deviation from their typical system, that an additional nurse or other staff member may have been needed to assist this family, legitimately adding a cost to this family’s care. Neither you nor I wants to hear of a baby being dropped by accident because there was a lack of physical awareness by the medical care team. That extra team member deserves to be paid for their time on the job.


And for the love of….let’s stop for a minute and realize that causing division and angrily pointing fingers gets us nowhere, fast. The only way to see positive changes happen within our birth culture is to…wait for it…


…work together. To build bridges, rather than keep burning them down.


Why is that such a hard concept?


How about we put on our big girl panties and big boy briefs and decide to find the common ground. Every single one of us wants safe, happy babies and parents.


DOULAS: We have the capacity to be witness to, and part of improvements to birth in our nation. We have this capacity! But not if we keep being divisive and not if we keep working against the very system that we claim to care about.


I for one have and will continue to stand for:

  • Unbiased support for families, leading to higher satisfaction with birth experiences and more confident parents.
  • Professional working relationships between the Doula and the Medical Professional, promoting cohesive team work in the birth room, supportive postpartum experiences, and mutual respect for each other’s roles in the process.


Let’s make real change. It’s time.

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