Womens Health

OB Practice Bans Doulas, Makes Patients Sign Rigid Birth Plan

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Remember back when the Aspen Women's Center banned "doulahs"? There's another obstetrical practice that has not only banned doulas, but also written up a one-size-fits-all birth plan.

Yes, despite the very strong evidence that doulas have significant positive effects on the course of labor, on intervention rates, and on women's experiences, Kingsdale Gynecologic Associates has banned doulas "because of concerns for increased risk to you or your baby." Their "thoughtful, unanimous decision" to ban doulas comes down to this: "It has been our experience that they may serve to create a state of confusion and tension in the delivery room, which may compromise our ability to provide the safest delivery situation possible for you and your baby."

Not only does the pregnant woman no longer have access to a companion of her choice during labor, she has to sign the physicians' birth plan. Among other things, this birth plan notes that IVs are necessary for a safe labor, that you will only be allowed ice chips and popsicles, that you'll probably want drugs, that they will cut episiotomies to avoid bad tears, and that continuous fetal monitoring provides the "safest possible delivery."

Evidence-based medicine has been tossed out the window.

But this one takes the cake:

The labor and delivery nurses and doctors together act as “doulas” in a sense that we will be your advocate to provide positioning options, pain control and pushing techniques to make the process as easy as possible."

Yes, the physician who arrives when the baby is crowning, and the nurses who are tending to several laboring women and spending almost no time doing direct labor support, are somehow the equivalent of a doula--a person who knows the woman well, whose entire task is to provide continuous support and information and encouragement, and who never leaves the woman's side.

I'm sure a lot of us could come up with snarky/sarcastic/witty remarks to the doula ban and the birth plan (hey, it rhymes!). But better yet, I'd love to see someone edit the documents purely from an evidence-based medicine point of view, complete with up-to-date references. Perhaps we could create a wiki and work on this together? I'd be more than happy to send the completed documents back to Kingsdale Gynecologic Practice.

You're also free to write directly to the physician group and voice your thoughts:

Kingsdale Gynecologic Associates
1315 West Lane Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43221

Phone: (614) 457-4827
Fax: (614) 326-0250

Still, the best reaction is if pregnant women leave Kingsdale Gynecologic Associates in favor of a provider who respects women's wishes and supports evidence-based care. For example, CNM Emily Neiman wrote that her midwife/physician practice, Women's Contemporary Health Care, would be "happy, thrilled, ecstatic to have these women transfer to our practice. We have no issues with doulas, 'allow' you to write your OWN birth plan, and provide continuous labor support."