Why We Won't Work At Reston Hospital Center

...And Why You Shouldn't Hire a Doula Who Will

doula dulles

There is a ban on doulas at Reston Hospital Center.  It's not a surprise, it's been in place for something like 8 years, even though many doulas and medical staff there are working to change it, it still exists.  And some doulas are ignoring it, some blatantly and some serruptitiously.  Which leaves the very real possibility that while you are in the most intense part of your labor, your professional labor support would be asked to leave the premises.   What would you do?  How does this make you feel in the throes of labor?  How will it effect the momentum and memory of your birth?

It's not a "tiny possibility", an experience I've heard about more than once and is the only reason we won't provide labor support there.  As a private business they have created a policy that bans doulas from providing labor support to their patients, and many doulas are working hard to help mend the bridges that have been burned by others before us.  But until the ban is lifted, we cannot provide continuity of care and uphold the high standards of integrity and professionalism we require of our doulas at that hospital.

Some doulas and their clients are pretending they don't know, or are trying to keep doula services in the hospital "under the radar", with a wink and a nod (sometimes even from the OB) they call themselves a "friend" or a "cousin who knows a lot about birth" instead of what they are: a paid professional rendering a service in a place they were asked not to be. I can't get behind that and my business wants no part of that kind of falseness.  We believe strongly in a woman's right to birth where she wants, when she wants and with whom she wants, and we will work towards Doulas in Reston, but we will not and cannot be your "Trojan Horse Doula". 

doula reston

We don't think that lasting or systemic change comes from deceit or the vanity that says, "If they only saw me in action, they would know how great a doula is!"  By agreeing to lie (actively or by omission) to an institution that provides the medical care that I do not, I am suggesting I know better than they how to run their facility.  It also subliminally suggests to my client that I think she cannot give birth without my presence.  That kind of arrogant behavior only perpetuates negative stereotypes of doulas and compounds the anger of the administrators who instituted the ban in the first place.

Instead, the Doulas of Fredericksburg empower our clients by reminding them that they always have choices.  As the Go-To Source for Birthing Families, we are familiar with hospitals and providers from Arlington to Richmond that might be a good fit for your needs and goals, and are happy to discuss this with you at length.  If Reston Hospital remains the best choice for you and your family, we believe you will have an excellent experience there, and are prepared to work with you prenatally through private or small-group education and personalized workshops, then will be available to offer excellent postpartum support in your home when you need us.

I am confident that in time, we can get the ban on doulas lifted at Reston Hospital.  It is going to take a tremendous amount of listening, humility and willingness to change how we as doulas view our role in your birth experience, and a conviction that we have redefined the role of a Doula as one that is professional, knowledgeable and respectful.  It's going to take bridge and relationship building outside of the birth room with the hospital administration and the doctors and nurses who deliver there, and accountability for the doulas who want to serve clients there.  It's going to take input from patients who want a doula to advocate for themselves, over and over again.  The ban isn't going to be lifted through duplicity and insincerity and having your doula pretend like she's your bestie.  Especially when it might not even work.  So please stop it.

I understand that you may not care about getting the ban lifted.  I mean, you just want some awesome doula support for your labor, right?  The question you are left with then is: would you want that kind of negativity and uncertainty at your birth? This is why you will never find a Doulas of Fredericksburg doula intentionally disregarding a hospital ban, and why you should not hire a doula who will.

Victoria McCollum

Victoria McCollum is a birth and postpartum doula and owner of Doulas of Fredericksburg, in Fredericksburg, Virgina. She resides there with her husband and three precocious sons.