Usually when I’m near a Nurse, I’m introducing myself and politely staying out of her way. Maybe there is some chit chat about how busy or slow the delivery ward is.
Yesterday was different.
Yesterday, I was invited by Doctor Maryam Siddiqui, MD and Nurse Instructor Regina Cox-Brown to talk as Ariel, The Doula, with a group of women about natural birth in hospitals. (If you are interested to learn in detail what we discussed, please feel free to email me and I’m happy to share the information.)
The question I am asked most by moms looking to deliver at U of C is, Is it possible to have a natural childbirth there? My answer from the birth experiences I have personally attended, “Absolutely yes!”
Since moving to Chicago early in 2014, I’ve had goals to make an impact in my local community and strengthen the ties between maternity care professionals and the women who would make use of those services.
For many pregnant women, they see delivering a baby in a hospital (especially a teaching hospital) to be akin to walking on an opponent’s home field. Their rules, no compromise. All defenses are up, and for some, that means more stress and pressure to have to “fight” to have the birth they desire. It doesn't have to be like that.
The talk yesterday on The University of Chicago’s campus, was the first in a series of talks directed to bring the hospital staff together with the people in the community. The next talk will be discussing the benefits of Breastfeeding on November 13th at Comer Childrens’ Hospital, in room K-160 at noon.
I am honored to say I was asked earlier in the year to start gathering feedback of women’s and doula’s experiences delivering and working inside the U of C’s Medical Center. The feedback is not falling on deaf ears.
There are plans in the works for changes to the Labor and Delivery ward itself. Construction continues everyday on the new buildings. The Residents that work at the University of Chicago now spend a portion of their time at North Shore Hospital in Evanston, making natural childbirth a part of their normal birth experience. There are doctors, nurses, and educators that are committed to improving the birth experience and birth culture that currently exists.
The doulas that live and work with mom's in Hyde Park are a group of dedicated women that also want to see positive change in the area. We all want the same thing. We are all on a mission to see more empowered women. It will take some time to start redirecting the culture and reputation that U of C has held, and some time for news of the change to soften hardened ears.
It will not be an drastic overnight change, but even the last few months, I have helped women reach their goal for natural childbirth with this facility. I have faith in the care providers that work at the U of C, and I know they have unique challenges to serving a large population of high-risk clients.
If you are a woman that has considered the U of C Medical Center for your birth, I encourage you to work with your care provider and discuss your birth plan early. I also highly recommend you hire a birth doula, as the combination of your partner, a birth doula, and the professionals at U of C mean you have an extremely balanced and capable team able to help you in every situation that may arise.
I want to extend a special thank you to Dr. Maryam Siddique MD for organizing the discussion and inviting me to speak, and Regina Cox-Brown for being instrumental in increasing the level of understanding and knowledge women have before entering labor and childbirth.