Why I Left Labor and Delivery to Be a Doula

by Lauren King, Certified Lamaze Educator and DONA Labor Doula

A lot of clients ask why I left the hospital bedside as a labor and delivery nurse to become a doula. There are two main reasons: one is because I am so very passionate about educating women about labor and delivery. As a nurse, I was tasked with charting, charting, charting, fetal monitoring, charting, following policies, calling doctors, giving medications and MORE charting! If I had the joy of answering many, many questions for a patient and her family, then something had to suffer – usually my charting.


Aside from educating my patients, I loved being there for them. I loved that bond with my patient and her husband, family or friends that were there by her side. Though the nurse-patient bond can be special, at the end of my shift, I went home. Whether the patient delivered her baby or not, it was time for me to go! Yes, sometimes I stayed late if a patient was close to delivery (and luckily, our charge nurses were generally very understanding in those situations), but then I’d “drop and run,” leaving my beloved patient in the hands of my night-shift colleagues. And I’d most likely never see that patient again. Becoming a doula was a way for me to ditch the charting, BE with my patient (now my client!) and provide education.

Doctor Knows Best: Burn Out is Real

Which brings me to my second reason for leaving the bedside: I was getting burned out on the number of women coming in for inductions for all the wrong reasons, or worse – they didn’t even know why they were being induced. They just didn’t know. They didn’t educate themselves! They thought, “Well, my doctor said I need to be induced now, so I should trust him/her. Doctor knows best! And I certainly don’t want to hurt my baby.”

So many of these women wound up having a cesarean section, and sometimes I felt like I failed them.

So many of these women wound up having a cesarean section, and sometimes I felt like I failed them. I failed to educate them on their options. I failed to tell them they don’t have to be induced just because “their” doctor is on call! I failed to encourage them. I failed to move them enough if they had an epidural. It’s not that I didn’t care – sometimes my patient flat-out didn’t care what I had to say. Or maybe I was just too busy with my other patient. Or perhaps, I had that very rare moment when all seemed well enough for me to use the restroom or go eat, and upon my return – BAM. C-section was called while I was gone. Ugh! If there’s one thing I hated as a nurse, it was an induction for non-medical reasons, or inductions for fake medical reasons (baby “too big,” anyone?). Especially if it ended up in a c-section.

There are, of course, other reasons for my leaving the nursing world. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my job and I loved the hospital where I worked. I also loved the other nurses I worked with. Nursing burn-out happens, and unfortunately, it happened for me in my favorite field of nursing. But, the good news is: there are plenty of options, and becoming a doula and a childbirth educator are right up my alley!


Related articles:
Investing Your Time in Childbirth Education
AROM: To Break or Not To Break
5 Reasons to Hire a Birth Doula
Postpartum Expectations and Must-have Items
How to Transfer Care During Pregnancy