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Huntsville doctor no longer willing to work with doulas for maternity care

The message posted in their office raised concerns and frustration for expectant mothers.

Posted: Aug 23, 2019 6:10 PM
Updated: Aug 24, 2019 9:41 AM

A Huntsville doctor is making waves after banning doulas and other privately hired non-medical assistants.

The message posted in their office raised concerns and frustration for expectant mothers.

A sign on display in Dr. Edith Aguayo's office at All Women's OBGYN stated she "has decided to no longer collaborate with doulas or other lay support."

Justen Alexander and Brianna Barker lead Huntsville's International Cesarean Awareness Network Chapter (ICAN).

Several concerned expecting moms notified them shortly after the sign was placed.

"We were sent a picture of the policy itself and when we read it, we thought, this is a big change. This needs to be notified to the community, and we frequently post policy updates. We get notified of these things all the time," said Alexander.

"We want to make sure that families can make decisions as soon as they can, because in pregnancy and maternity care, time is a factor," echoed Barker.

Sharing this post is part of their commitment to the maternity group.

"People are all very different as far as their cultural expectations, their religious preference, preferences based off their past experiences, a traumatic history. We just don't know what people are walking through and why they may need a certain type of support," said Barker.

"I think there was a lot of fear and wondering, how far is it going to go, you know? Are we going to restrict it to only my spouse, or is that a lay-support person?"

Doulas are essentially a patient advocate. They provide non-medical support with a focus on the mom's well-being.

"It's important to remember that not everyone has the family support," reminded Barker. "A doula can be very beneficial for single moms, for military moms and maybe their spouse is deployed, for a family that may have moved out of state and they don't have family that can come and help them."

I reached out directly to Dr. Aguayo's office at All Women's OBGYN to talk specifically about the change in policy and the sign in their lobby. I was told the doctor did not want to comment on her decision. The person on the phone told me the information was not meant to reach people outside the office. It was meant to stay internal to patients only.

I attempted to contact local doulas and expectant mothers, but those I talked to didn't feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on camera. We reached out to a local attorney, Geoffrey Merry, and his colleagues in the Birth Rights Bar Association.

They issued a lengthy statement, but the bottom line, "It is important to remember that women who are pregnant or seeking to become pregnant should seek out care that falls in line with their vision for their pregnancy and birth."

In the meantime, the comments continue to heat up on social media regarding the change in policy and still no explanation why.

"We would love to see the office and local doulas have a meeting and come to some kind of middle ground. I think that would be great," offered Alexander.

Dr. Agyayo's office has yet to release a statement, but said they are working to figure out how they will address the issue.

Read a statement from Geoffrey Merry, attorney and other members of the Birth Rights Bar Association, Indra Lusero, J.D., Jacqueline Hammack, J.D., Deborah Fisch, J.D., Colleen Campbell, J.D. (Mobile readers: See it here)

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