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Mary, Did You Know?

A nurses transition from convincing the system to informing the mother via doula work.


I wanted to bridge the gap between hospital & home. I walked in hoping they would remember that birth works, that they’d understand women say no out of wisdom not ignorance. I expected everyone understood she could not be touched without permission.

I thought our mutual ground was physiology, didn’t we both have faith in at least that?

Instead I left with clear discernment that I would no longer be applying for L&D jobs in my spare time. Doula-ing wasn’t just a way to round out my clinical side and make me a better nurse. In 28 hours it had become more than a hobby. I wanted to believe, at their core, hospitals were moving towards mother-led birth, but the gap was wider than I thought. This shifted my focus from convincing the system to informing the mother.

Did you know knocking on the door as they enter your room is not the same as inviting them in? Telling you they have a student or trainee is not the same as asking in private if you’re comfortable with an audience. You have the right to a nurse who borrows a tegaderm from another unit instead of having you climb out of the tub mid-contraction, because yours got wet & they’re running low. Did you know that just because they suggest the tub & find the wireless monitor for you doesn’t mean you can submerge your belly or that you can stay in until you’re ready to get out? That you have the right to a birthing ball that has air in it & that peanut balls aren’t one-size-fits-all. You have the right to a nurse who is competent, not only in the location of the squat bar and mirror but also their purpose.

a mother laboring in tub with doula kneeling

Did you know you don’t need to be manually stretched for hours to make your body open?

That your baby doesn’t rely on your provider's hands to show him the way out. When you have a conversation with your provider about birth preferences at 32 weeks & are given the impression that you have agency... did you know that is not the moment you will need it most? Did you know their to-do list would supersede their consideration for your experience? That your provider's fear of litigation may precede your best interest? Did you know feeling vulnerable, distracted or being interrupted in labor works against the very intrinsic processes meant to bring about birth?

You have the right to feel seen, safe & soothed because our birth experiences impact generations to come. I want you to know that next time you can make a different choice, you are at liberty to change providers & or locations. There are alternatives to interventions & you have the right to fully understand & freely choose them with the support of your provider . You own your body & have the right to decide what happens to it. You have the right of refusal, you can accept or refuse any medical treatment even if (especially when) a life is at risk. You inherently already know that though, maybe you just needed a quiet reminder.

Birth was yours all along & it’s waiting for you when you’re ready to take it back.

mom and baby getting out of birth tub


By Charlotte Hutter

RN, BWS Agency Birth Doula

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