Why does a doula need to learn about obstetric emergencies?
Doulas are NOT medical professionals. Clinical care of the woman and baby is directly outside of our scope of practice. Clearly defining ourselves as non-clinicians is vital to safe practice.
However, we are there on the frontline. We are with women in the dark of night as they labour at home. Women are told to stay home as long as possible so they turn to us and ask for our support and help before they present to their care provider. We know labour is predictably unpredictable and although we do everything we can to direct women to their care provider there are a few, random situations where timely intervention can save lives.
Many professions have first aid requirements, and no doubt many qualified doulas have undergone some kind of first aid training. An understanding of emergencies for doulas is important.
It is not appropriate for a doula to attend the kind of emergency training midwives, obstetric nurses and doctors attend. Their role in most emergencies is very different. Understanding a few scenarios that doulas may see might give them the insight to recognise when to call for emergency assistance.
Consider the following scenarios:
If a pregnant woman was to collapse at home in early labour what would you do? After calling for an ambulance, you may be asked to assist the ambulance officer on the phone. If you have an understanding of emergencies then you will feel more prepared to assist.
Supporting a woman in the home quickly turns into a precipitous labour and there is no time to get to the hospital. You have called for an ambulance but the baby is born stunned and not breathing. What do you do while you wait for help?
Moments after the birth of a baby the woman in your care begins to haemorrhage. Staff quickly flood the room to help her. How can you help her partner? Is there anything you can do to support the baby?
This is a course about obstetric and neonatal emergencies completely devoted to the unique needs of doulas.
Experienced doulas may have (unfortunately) come across these sorts of scenarios in the past. However, these skills need to be practised, to keep current, particularly when we don’t use them very often. If you are a newly qualified (or qualifying) doula, learning about emergencies and hearing from more experienced doulas can help equip you with ideas and skills if you ever need them in you (hopefully) long and rewarding career.
Words: Jennifer Hazi
We Birth presents a course on emergencies in childbirth for doulas. Thursday 22nd June 2017, at Oxford Falls Peace Park, Oxford Falls, in Sydney’s northern beaches. Reserve your space now.