My love affair with Hyde Park began right along side my love affair with my husband. He lived here, grew up here, and was happy to introduce me to his favorite places and people that had a tremendous amount of pride for this place.
Then I moved here. I moved my family and my business to an area that I had never lived or worked in before. As I started to learn about the Chicago birth world and culture, I was introduced to a new perception of Hyde Park. The Doula Perspective, I'll call it.
In talking I learned that many doulas had refused to take clients that were delivering at the U of C Medical Center. Some doulas that lived on the south side and did take clients in the past had stories and experiences that gave them little confidence in the "necessity" of certain protocols and of the staff that worked there.
It wasn't long before I had my own client in labor at the U of C, and I was eager to experience this "horrible" place for myself.
My experience and the experience of my client was...absolutely amazing.
My next client, also incredible.
The next three clients, all satisfied and happy with the care they were given. In some cases, even extremely thankful for the specialties that were available and used once their children were born.
The positive experiences are piling up.
Money and Politics...What was going on?
As I went looking into the history of this very vocal doula perspective, I found some willing to talk, and some articles documenting events.
The Chicago Tribune wrote a piece in 2003 called "U. of C. weighing costs of midwives" that shared some of the nuts and bolts numbers that the U of C was dealing with. Increased malpractice insurance along with a care structure that couldn't support more clients meant that there was an increasing deficit that surrounded the existence of the midwife group that practiced there.
It was decided the Midwives would be let go.
The community was not happy. There was a protest. There were more articles written, this one from the Chicago Reader.
The community did not feel respected or valued.
So after all that, I can understand where some of the hostility was coming from.
Natural Birth, Vaginal Birth, Healthy Birth, Happy Birth - All possible
Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? 12?
It's not a hard question. No, you aren't.
I wasn't around in 2003 when the University made their decision to end their Midwifery practice.
But it is now 2015, and while many are still not satisfied with the University of Chicago Medical Center for its past decision, many families ARE incredibly happy with the care they are receiving now.
The Generalist Group at the University of Chicago is doing great things. The current Medical Director for this group is Dr. Ken Nunes. I encourage you to get to know him and his team.
Of the handfuls of hospitals where I have served clients, there has only been one team that has invited me in, unsolicited, to talk with the doctors about what a doula does. My local hospital, the U of C, was open and willing to work with a local doula to help their community and clients.
I love working with Midwives, and I love supporting clients where ever they choose to have their babies. (My own daughter was caught by a midwife in Normal, Illinois!) Some of the hostility towards the University of Chicago comes from those activists that see the removal of the Midwives as jumping down a rabbit hole where healthy, positive maternal care ceases to exist. And it just isn't the case today.
Families that give birth at the U of C Medical Center are in great hands and have birth options. It is whispered (or shouted depending on who you talk with) that moms can't have "natural" birth at U of C. But vaginal, unmediated birth is possible at this teaching hospital. I've seen it. Many times.
There are some that choose to have their birth at the hospital in Hyde Park because of insurance and some because of location. And some, specifically because of the doctors who work there.
It's disconcerting that people who have looked into doula care and experienced such a strong negative opinion from doulas (many of which haven't taken clients recently from this hospital) are coming away from those meetings more unsure of the doctors they selected.
Doctors are concerned with healthy mom, healthy baby. Doulas are brought into this relationship because we care for the mind and bond between mother and baby. Part of the healthy mind part is not planting seeds of skepticism in a woman who likes her doctor.
It is a disservice to women to think they are unable to make the best choices for themselves and their pregnancy. If choice and options are things doulas are in favor of (and a good doula will say yes, choices and options are great) perhaps judging where a woman has her baby should also be included in the list of unsolicited opinions surrounding a woman's birth that are unnecessary to voice in a professional working relationship.
Fear mongering from doulas who have not had the chance to experience care at the U of C in recent years need to realize they are out of date and a disservice to this profession and their clients.
Come to Hyde Park. Meet the doctors at the University of Chicago. See for yourself what great care you could receive here.
Authored by A Swift Doula
Photo Credit: Rick Seidel