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Doula-ing for teens

Last post 04-29-2009 7:19 AM by momofmany. 13 replies.
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  • 02-26-2009 10:13 AM

    Doula-ing for teens

     I was called yesterday and asked if I would be doula for the teens in the area.  She said it ends up being about 1 or 2 a month.  I would get paid by the state.  The gal who called use to do it but got a job and can't really be on call.  She said it is stressful as the teens don't really care if they take meds or not.  I guess *my* heart isn't so much to "save" them from intervention, though that would be good, as it is to see them feel cared for during labor.  Have any of you helped pregnant teens?  Was it rewarding or more stressful?

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

    Vicki - wife to Chris, mom to eleven, doula and midwifery student.
    Filed under: ,
  • 02-26-2009 10:52 AM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    Teen moms vary as much as any other moms do, ya know.

    I have worked with some AMAZING young mothers. I would say, it would be worth trying.

     

    Mary

  • 02-26-2009 12:23 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    Sounds like the previous doula was a bit burned out, doesn't it?  I think if you go into it with an open heart, you will find your own way.  ICEA did put out a nice bit of info regarding teaching and working with teens.  I would think you will be imparting some good mothering skills for the several hours you will be spending with these young women and you may affect their lives in more ways than you can imagine by modeling good mothering skills no matter what their personal situations may be.

    Susan
    Moderator

    I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. --E.B. White
  • 02-26-2009 5:11 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    I actually had my first teen mom a few months ago.

    I would agree with the previous poster who said that it's not so much about avoidance of meds, etc., as it is about the support and nurturing. This is true. I have to also agree that teens are as individual as anyone else.This is also true.

    Teens don't always have the support of family/community/peers in the situation, but often they do- again it's an individual thing, of course.

    You may find you are a comforting presence for your client's family members also. For instance, my client's mom really leaned on me and I was happy to be there. I showed her that she could be there for her daughter as a major support person. It was lovely to see her do it and to see her daughter respond to it so positively.

    All in all, I really loved the experience, I'd do it again.

    There were frustrating aspects like: my client was really not good at keeping appointments... but there were times when there were really good reasons for that, so I just rolled with it. (Some adults have issues with that too... it's challenging, no matter what.)

    Custody can be an issue. It was a major issue for my client- very tough. Lots of argument, threats, and manipulation. When this becomes a facet of the perinatal experience, it can easily become a stressor. Happy to say that the situation has since been sorted through, and so far, so good.

    Based on this one experience, I'd say that being an educator to the appropriate extent, flexibility, having good humor, being respectful, using good listening skills, being consistent and accepting, offering warmth and nurturing, and knowing when to back off are all wonderful qualities that really get a work out not just in your average doula/client relationship, but may have extra value in working with teens.

    My experience is limited, yes, but working with a teen was a wonderful adventure as a doula and I really value it. I learned alot about teens, about families, about doula work and about myself. Serving a teen deepened my commitment to all my future clients and to my work.

     

     

     

     

     

  • 03-01-2009 12:28 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    I guess its the just the way that I get teen clients or the demographics of the teens I get, but I hate it! I don't mean to be discouraging or even sound unsupportive/uncaring, but teens have burned me out.

    I am employed in a hospital based doula program. Were on call in 12 hours shifts. The moms are in labor, nurses ask if they are interested in a doula, nurses call us to come in. Part of me thinks the nurses do an awful job selling us to the moms and thats part of the problem.

    With the dozens of teen moms I've had, I've never met one prenatally. Which is a down fall to me. ALL of them have come to me with no education, no birth classes, unsupportive family. Every single one has verbally assaulted me or their family has. every single one has been uncooperative. I actually dread getting called in for fear of working with another teen.

    IT SUCKS! I don't want to give up on these girls; But, One told me to Shut the F up when I was asking her to tell me her name (it was great, the anesthesiologist told her if she verbally abused another staff member, he'd come back and take out the epidural, as it wasn't a requirement to give birth). Last week a grandma to be told me she was suing me because I killed her daughter (daughter was 1cm, no pit, claiming a pain scale of 10 and un-cooperative to comfort measures). I don't know how to help them anymore. I didn't get them pregnant. 

    Now if I got them prenatally, where I could spend time preparing them; childbirth education, common procedures, comfort measures, etc. Then it would be different. Maybe they'd actually want to work with a doula... medicated or not; but I can't take any more of the verbal assaults.

    Because of the experience with the teens I changed my private hire contract to include the requirement of childbirth education classes. And it would take "the right" teenager for me to agree to one as a privately hired doula.

     

    I do agree with pp's about working with teens. they need more of a 'mother figure' thats not in panic mode. I always spend a lot of time listening at first. I want to figure out their personality; while one needed me to 'set her straight' (I had to talk to her sternly) another was very afraid and need comfort, reassurance and soft words. I found that a lot of the teens revert back to a very infantile state during labor (think a two year old with words). Tantrums have been common, crying unnecessarily is common (like a 2 y/o that doesn't understand the world around them). Speak simply, explain the big words and be honest. At the hospital we used to keep a teddy bear for the girls to hold onto. If you get to see them prenatally, it's something that I encourage they pack in their hospital bag or even a childhood blankie (or ask the g'ma-to-be to sneak it in). Its really a time they need a security blanket that everything will be ok.

    Filed under: , ,
  • 03-01-2009 5:19 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

     Wow.  And wow again.  It makes a lot of sense about someone reverting back to a childlike state in light of being frightened and finding themselves facing labor and facing reality.  Adolescence is a confusing time anyway and then throw in a  pregnancy.  Oy vey.

    I did find the anesthesiologist's words unethical.  I think the majority of us here are champions of unmedicated births but to threaten someone like that even under the circumstances of the young woman being abusive leaves me feeling very sad.  The image that came to mind was a caged, frightened animal.  I'm not a fan of epidurals but I can totally understand how someone with no childbirth education (and probably no fabulous sex education either) facing labor would decide to have an epidural since it numbs you out in every sense of the word.  Then to have someone threaten to pull the plug?  That just doesn't sit well with me but maybe I'm the one off base. ??

    Susan
    Moderator

    I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. --E.B. White
  • 03-01-2009 6:01 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    for me, personally, I felt vindicated. See, being spoken too like this is a regular thing for me as a doula. Why should any member of the labor team be verbally assaulted? OB, nurse, doula or otherwise. The hospital staff doesn't like me cause I am very vocal about my preference to homebirth, so for one to stand up for me (even if, and I agree, in an inappropriate way) meant a lot.

    (and specifically, for this girl, it was her 2nd baby at 17... she knew what was going on)

  • 03-01-2009 7:38 PM In reply to

    • ZoeysMom
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on 02-04-2009
    • Lincoln, NE
    • Posts 63

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    Brlnbabies:
    Wow.  And wow again.  It makes a lot of sense about someone reverting back to a childlike state in light of being frightened and finding themselves facing labor and facing reality.  Adolescence is a confusing time anyway and then throw in a  pregnancy.  Oy vey.
     

     

    I agree.  My sis was a teen mom, pregnant at 16, delivered at 17.  And although she was somewhat... okay, REALLY rude and at times even offensive towards the hopsital staff she (and the rest of the family) remember very clearly how supportive many of them were.

    I also agree that it probably would take more effort to regularly support teens, and getting burned out is probably more likely but I would also think the potential rewards could be greater too. 

    Mandi
  • 03-01-2009 7:45 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    Wise post...thanks!

     

    Mary

     

  • 03-01-2009 7:50 PM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    Completely! yes....I agree with Brlnbabies!

     

    Once being a volunteer hospital doula, most often I was called for the teen moms, the drug addict moms, the prostitutes or the raped women. Sadly...but I gratefully attended them.

     

    They were ALL very hard to emotionally cope with, but taught me very vaulable lessons that I will never forget, ever. If you are going to work "with people" not always is it the ideal situation...

     

    Mary

  • 03-02-2009 7:44 AM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    I guess where I have a problem with the anesthesiologist is the power trip he was riding on and I wonder how often he feels that way towards women in labor.  It seems he feels he has a gift to bring laboring women.  He has the power to take away or give back pain that women are running away from and it appears that he's extremely aware of the "re-gifting" portion.

    Susan
    Moderator

    I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. --E.B. White
  • 03-02-2009 7:56 AM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    I agree..that's so common though

     

    Mary

  • 03-02-2009 10:45 AM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

    I have worked with many teen mothers over the years and have found it very rewarding.  I've found that they are often a bit distant at first but warm up once they trust that you're not just another person looking down on them for being a teen mother.  Pregnancy can really be a time of transformation as they really come into their own as a woman and start taking responsibility for their themselves and their choices.  It's not just learning about how to make informed choices for pregnancy and birth, it's about learning to make informed choices about life and having those choices honored.  Some of the teen mothers I've worked with have decided to have a medicated birth and I support that 100% because they knew their options and wanted the medications.  I think sometimes we have to be reminded that it is't our birth and these aren't our choices; we are there to educate and support, not to judge.

  • 04-29-2009 7:19 AM In reply to

    Re: Doula-ing for teens

     Just had to report that I have signed a contract with the hospital to go ahead and work with the teens!  I am SO excited!  I was fearful at first, but really, when I became a doula, it was the teens that were on my heart.  I appreciate all of the advice you all gave above, it was helpful!

    Vicki - wife to Chris, mom to eleven, doula and midwifery student.
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