Today is the fourth post in the occasional series, “Doula Me This!” Each post in the series provides a common scenario that a birth or postpartum (or both) doula may face. The “correct” answer (if there is one) requires some synthesis of the situation and at times consideration of the DONA International’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Today’s dilemma is not necessarily an unusual one for birth doulas to face. When I consider it, I have an initial gut reaction but further consideration gives me pause. How would you handle this in your own practice? Read through the scenario and let me know what you would do.

Doula Me This!

You have a client who has been scheduled for a planned cesarean for several weeks now. You receive a call from a different client in labor at 4 AM asking you to join them in labor now. Your client’s surgery is scheduled for 9 AM.

The Details

Kristin and Jamie are having their first baby. Kristen has been diagnosed with complete placenta previa and is having a scheduled cesarean at 38 weeks in order to avoid labor and the great complications that would result. Their surgery is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 AM and you have completed your prenatals and are planning to join them as requested at check in at 7 AM at Beechstone Hospital.

You are woken up at 4 AM with a phone call from another full term client, Melissa and Boaz. Their labor has started and contractions are really picking up. They are requesting your support now in order to continue to labor at home before heading to the Millbank Hospital to get admitted.

The Dilemma

Obviously you cannot be in two places at once. You have solid back up ready and able to go wherever you send them. If you join your laboring clients, you will not be able to attend the planned cesarean. If you attend the planned cesarean, you will not be able to support your laboring clients until much later that day.

What would you do?

Do you send your back up to the planned cesarean? To the laboring family? Do you have a gut response but change your mind after more consideration? Does your contract offer clarification on what you should do? Have you ever had exactly this situation before in “real life?” Drop your thoughts on how you would handle this situation in the comments section below, and share a bit about your thought process.