frustrated with volunteer work


  • Specializes in L&D. Has 3 years experience.

For the past year I've volunteered at a home for pregnant teenaged girls. Over that past year I finished nursing school and starting working in L&D at a hospital where a lot of the girls actually deliver. The girls ask me questions and it's fun to answer them when I can. Last week they asked me if they can deliver on their sides. I told them that from my experience, at my hospital, you can labor and push on your side but when it comes time for actual delivery, most doctors want you on your back. (I don't necessarily agree with it, but it's how it is)

Today I got a frustrating e-mail from the head of my volunteer committee.

It went like: "we had a little problem arise this week with one of the girls reporting back to ________ and ______ (I left out their names. They're the people who run the home. One is a doula and a social worker) that we told her not to labor on her side. I recounted the conversation and definitely told her that is not what you had said but they asked us to please steer clear of offering 'medical' guidance. They are teaching the girls to be in charge of their own labor and deliveries and they want the girls to speak up for themselves and tell their medical practiitioners what they want. I assured them that if there were any medical issues that came up we would refer them back to their providers or doulas"

It's just frustrating to me. They're so controlling over what information we can give the girls! You'd think they'd be happy that they have an L&D nurse, from a hospital where the girls deliver, volunteering there and able to answer their questions. Instead they act like I'm encroaching on their territory. The past year I've wanted to give a presentation on labor and delivery and they've refused because they cover that in their own way. Instead they only approve "safe" topics like nutrition, baby care etc for us to do.

It's also frustrating because I worry that these doulas are teaching the girls that they can have a completely natural birth at any hospital. My hospital is high risk, high intervention. It's NOT a birthing center. They're just setting these girls up for conflict with residents and nurses if they are trying to tell them that can give birth in any position etc. I'm trying to tell them how it REALLY is, because I work there! I'm just trying to help.

It's frustrating.... I may not be able to volunteer there much longer. Might not be worth the trouble, especially when I'm no longer allowed to answer the girls questions, which is the part I really enjoy about volunteering there.

mamamerlee, LPN

949 Posts

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others. Has 35 years experience.

Ah, the dichotomy! When you are a volunteer, you can only perform those duties that are in your scope as a volunteer. Period. Despite you knowledge base, and the fact that you work at the hospital where they may deliver, you can only support the hired professionals at the home. That being said, why not ASK them to train you in their approach?

As much as you love it, you may find yourself more and more conflicted. Keep a rein on your emotions, and keep supporting those girls, I know they appreciate it. Best wishes!


55 Posts

I don't blame you for being frustrated. It doesn't sound like you gave unsolicited advice, anyway. They asked you. If part of the goal is to teach these girsl to be assertive and speak up for themselves, why would they want to limit who they can talk to? Getting conflicting information from people in health care settings is a fact of life, anyway. It sounds like a pretty good teachable moment was missed.

By the way, what is a doula?

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