Sunday, October 21, 2012

a little bribery goes a long way

I recently had a client who taught me a fabulous lesson. 

Let me back up.  In my doula experience so far, I have worked with a lot of women who want all the "emergency" benefits of a hospital, but still want a natural birth.  Since the set-up of a hospital is more businesslike and often doesn't mold as well to each gal's individual labor pattern, sometimes my job requires handling some awkward head-butting situations.  Nurses have a job to do, and they are doing it by the big boss's standards for several couples at the same time.  I have many nurses in my family, so I can tell you from experience that they are often overworked and emotionally taxed.  It's a tough job!  But of course, couples welcoming a baby into the world are incredibly emotional and -- it is my eternal hope and goal for my clients -- empowered and opinionated on how they want to go about it. 

My job is to stick up for the couple's needs.  At the same time, my individual belief is that creating a confrontational atmosphere is really only damaging to the birth experience, so I have been vigilant in finding ways to keep everyone happy. 

I have read and thought and tried different things to make friends with the nurses, to attend to my clients, and to word everything to everyone just so.

But this recent couple of mine made it all so much simpler for me: 
Just bring chocolate.
Bring me these and my heart is yours.
This couple's labor went through the nurse's shift change (very common), and the new nurse must've just come from something terrible.  She was sullen and short and barely made eye contact.  I began mentally ticking through things I could say to help her seem more human to us, but then my client-bless-her-heart says, "Honey, the chocolate," as soon as the nurse leaves the room.
Her husband pulled out a massive bag of Ghiradeli squares and the two of them arranged a lovely little bowl of treats between contractions.  I watched open-mouthed.  Duh.  Why haven't I thought of that?!
When the nurse came back in, they handed her their offering to share with the entire nursing staff and thanked her for helping them bring their child into the world.  And by golly, her face lit up and she did a 180.  For the rest of the day she was chatty and obliging and almost doula-ish.
So people, here's another thing to pack in your hospital bags:  bribery goodies.  Guaranteed to set up a wonderful atmosphere for your baby to enter the world in.