I've been a doula for 3 years now and I still don't have a very thick skin when it comes to mean/disrespectful medical staff.
For the record, I've had overwhelmingly positive experiences with doctors/nurses/midwives in my area - a few are former doulas, most are supportive of natural birth, many are very culturally sensitive, and most are supportive or at least neutral about having a doula in the room. I can hardly think of one nurse or doctor who has been verbally inappropriate with a patient in labor in front of me, which I know is pretty rare.
But on three occasions, a nurse has been so unpleasant that it has made me cry (twice after I got home, once in the room - yuck). All three times it has been when the doctor/nurse/midwife was stressed out and/or had just made a mistake herself, and I know that this is the reason for the attitude. Last night the baby's head was out and the nurse and doctor were gone - when the nurse did get into the room, she was clearly freaked out and took it out on the rest of us for the rest of the night. When she started smashing the mom's breast into the sleeping baby's mouth "because we want them to latch right away" and I asked if he could just rest for a minute, she ripped my head off.
I find that some nurses seem to be very tolerant/compassionate toward the mother/patient/family, but have no patience left over for anyone else, and a doula is an easy target because there are no consequences to yelling or snapping at a doula.
I'm just frustrated with myself because I have the physical and emotional stamina to last for hours at a difficult birth, and I made it through 40 hours of labor with my own kid, but one sarcastic comment from someone I don't even know can reduce me to tears. :( Embarrassing and disappointing.
Intellectually, I know that nasty comments are usually about the person making them and not about me or anyone else. This nurse last night yelled at another nurse too, so it wasn't personal - and I would rather a nurse be abusive to the doula or a colleague than the laboring mother.
I'm just trying to come up with a way to be calm in front of my client and professional but still not be a doormat. I want to be forgiving and understanding and remind myself that nurses are under a lot of pressure ..... But on the other hand, I work HARD during births and I am very resentful of staff who bite my head off just because they can.
In general it seems like some staff can cope with stress as long as everything is going EXACTLY as planned, but the second there is one thing that challenges their control over the situation (mom gets to the hospital ready to push and can't sit still for a heplock, baby's head comes out when doctor/nurse is out of the room, mom wants to do something nurse doesn't want, doula questions ANYTHING), those stress coping skills go out the window.
Again - this is a minority of staff in my experience. I'm just worried/sad because I want to be a doula for a long time, but my sensitivity to others' moods is a real issue for me.
key words doula, nurse, stress, conflict