On a forum I'm a part of, there was recently a discussion about hospitals that require birth doulas to sign consent forms in order to practice there. These forms typically list what a doula can or cannot do in that particular hospital. In the past few years, some hospitals and OB practices have even banned doulas from serving clients in their practices.
It's a good idea for doula clients to be aware of their doctor's and hospital's policies regarding access to and acceptance of labor support. One way to address this is to include specific wording in the doula contract that raises awareness and voices the expectation that the client needs to understand how supportive their caregivers will be of their doula.
One forum member, Vanessa Manz of The Birthing Garden, explains, "I have a section for Doula and Client responsibilities and it covers all the dos and do nots along with requiring the client to be familiar with any restrictions on my services at their place of birth. I think it makes the family take a deeper look at whether they truly want to give birth in a place that wants to restrict what services are available to them during their birth. "
Vanessa also shared some verbiage that is on her doula contract:
CLIENT will tour the birth facility so that CLIENT is familiar with policies and facility layout.
It is CLIENT'S responsibility to ensure that DOULA is allowed to attend CLIENT at all times at the birth facility.
It is CLIENT'S responsibility to understand birthplace HIPPA policies regarding privacy rights. DOULA will not be held responsible if she is unable to contact CLIENT via telephone call or other inquiry while she is at birthplace.
If your ability to support your client has been affected by restrictions or requirements of their hospital or caregiver, what did you learn from the experience and what do you now request of your doula clients?