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Different Roles, Same Goal



By: DeAnne Smith, RNC-OB

As a labor and delivery nurse for over 13 years, I have had the pleasure and honor to have been a part of the most special day in a family’s life. I am sure that doulas feel the same way. That is what I would like to focus on...we, nurses and doulas, have the same goal. To the best of our ability, we want to give our patients the best experience of bringing their baby into this world.

I have had the opportunity to work with many doulas throughout the years, some good, some not so good. I am sure doulas can recount similar experiences with nurses. All I can do is speak from MY personal experience, and would like to focus on the importance of respectful communication. As labor and delivery nurses, we see the patient “the day of.” We have to quickly establish rapport and trust with this patient and her family in order to give her the best care and best experience we can. It is difficult to overcome pre-existing hurdles, however. When you, as doulas, meet with your patient prior to birth, it could be so beneficial for everyone if you speak about the nurses, care providers, hospital (or birthing center), in as positive a light as possible. We are all aware of the negatives sometimes, but the patient usually doesn’t see these unless they are pointed out!

In some cases, it can feel like fighting a preconceived notion that we (nurses) are the enemy and are only there to interfere with birth. This is extremely far from the truth. The majority of the amazing nurses I work with advocate for their patients everyday. We stand up to the providers, which I assure you is not easy to do, when necessary to give our patients the experience they desire and deserve. Sometimes, however, we also have to stand up to doulas. We do have standards of care we must uphold for the safety of our patients and their babies. On most occasions, doulas have a good awareness of our job and responsibilities. I believe that if we can begin (prior to admission to the hospital) with respectful communication and continue that throughout the labor, it can only enhance the new mother’s experience. If there is an instance where you have a nurse that you feel isn't a good “match,” please step outside and discuss it with the charge nurse.

It is getting harder to be a labor and delivery nurse in today’s healthcare environment. We are short staffed on most days and are doing the absolute best we can. Trust me, we are THRILLED to have extra support, especially for our patients planning an unmedicated delivery. We want them to be successful just as much as you do! If we can encourage each other and support each other with a “what can I do for you?” attitude, I firmly believe we can achieve so much more, and everyone (the family, the doula, and the nurse) can have the day as it should be, as it was intended to be...a birthday!

DeAnne Smith, RNC-OB has a BSN from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing as well as a BS in Psychology from Georgia Institute of Technology. She has worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for 13 years. DeAnne is certified in Inpatient Obstetrics and holds a Level III Preceptor in the Levels Program at Piedmont Hospital. She is also a Certified Childbirth Educator. 

DeAnne graduated cum laude from Georgia Baptist College of Nursing and received the Maternal-Infant Nursing Award. She was nominated for Preceptor of the Year for Piedmont Hospital in 2012. 

In DeAnne’s previous life she was a cheerleader for Georgia Tech, a dancer for the Atlanta Hawks, and a water-skier for Callaway Gardens. 

Now DeAnne’s love is her family. She has been married for 12 years to a firefighter and has a 9 year old son, a 5 year old daughter and a 7 month old puppy! She loves hiking, reading, and dance parties with her family.

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