At the end of September, BOBB Films Ash Spivak was invited to the 2016 Gathering of the Los Angeles Birth Community at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles; a collaboration between Cedars-Sinai staff and Ana Paula Markel of Bini Birth, to witness all of the change they have been able to implement by bringing together the doula and childbirth education world and the medical community.
Bini Birth is a staple of the LA birth community, and after Ash’s visit, it was immediately apparent why. The space is entirely unique both in aesthetics and in offerings. The building has stained glass windows, a grandiose staircase and chandelier- oh, and three whole floors (Which to a New Yorker like Ash was truly mind blowing). Bini houses a yoga studio, home birth midwife, massage therapist, and psychotherapist office amongst other practitioners. Everything one can need in one place!
In addition to doula trainings, Bini offers a large variety of childbirth, new parent and newborn classes all with the emphasis on offering a variety of options (all from an evidence-based perspective) instead of promoting a specific method of parenting or childbirth. The message here is clear: There is no “right” way to birth or parent. The ultimate goal here is for parents to have a positive experience knowing that they are validated, supported and loved throughout the process.
For these reasons, you will often see medical professionals actually taking classes at Bini, and going to Bini for support. And this makes sense since collaborating with the medical community at large for enhanced maternal care is of extreme importance to Ana Paula. And she has really made some incredible strides on that front.
Ana Paula sits on two task forces at Cedars-Sinai helping to improve patient satisfaction and bringing her experiences as a doula and birth diplomat to the institution.
Some of the accomplishments of one of the task forces has been: skin-to-skin in the OR, creating birth plans for hospital patients with a doula's touch, aromatherapy in the hospital, and creation of a doula committee to address patient communication and quality of care. This committee is called CDAC (Cedars Doula Advisory Committee) and allows for L and D nurses and doulas to report on what is occurring on the Labor and Delivery floor so that improvements and education can be provided when necessary. In 2015 Ana Paula was hired to help improve Cedars-Sinai’s childbirth education curriculum and is now in full effect with new parenting and newborn care classes recently launched.
The theme of this years event was Shared Decision Making in Childbirth from Theory to Practice and was truly a celebration of all the they have accomplished together.The event was put together by Monica Lundry (an L and D nurse) and Ana Paula. In addition to many staff members speaking on the importance of bettering maternal care, keynote speaker Hermine Hayes-Klein of Human Rights in Childbirth presented on our legal right to informed consent and refusal and how that can play out in the hospital system.
Even if Hermine’s presentation wasn’t as eye-opening and inspiring as it was (and oh man, it was!), simply the fact that this event was happening inside of a hospital and attended by doulas, L and D nurses, childbirth educators and OBs alike is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.
Ana Paula, along with former L and D manager Marle Shelton, Assistant Manager Mykel LeCheminant and Monica Lundry, some of the major players in this collaboration, have shown us that working together to provide cohesive, supportive, patient-centered care is both possible and fruitful. The system may not be perfect yet, but they are certainly onto something- something that hopefully soon, we can model at other hospitals across the country too.