Thank You, Laura Salvatierra!

Laura Salvatierra, RN, BSN, CCE

Laura Salvatierra, RN, BSN, CCE

I often reflect on and gush to others about how much I love our sweet little town.  C’ville is a great place to become a parent and to raise children.  As a doula, one thing I have learned about Charlottesville is that there are supportive, caring opportunities for prenatal care, labor & delivery, and postpartum support.  There are doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers.  Yoga classes, meetups, facebook groups, childbirth education, and community gatherings.  Wonderful options abound!  However, I believe that for more parents-to-be to feel that they are having wonderful birth experiences, these many providers and services need to be working together and communicating amongst themselves about how to better serve birthing people!  

This is exactly why I am so very thankful for Laura Salvatierra, Team Coordinator of Maternity Education at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital.  She gets it!  Recently, she created a Labor Support Collaborative to: “encourage all areas of birth support to come together with the common goal of supporting women who choose to have hospital births in the absolute best ways possible”.  YES, Laura!  That’s exactly what we want too!  

So on Monday evening, we gathered with Laura, local doulas, and MJH hospital staff to connect with each other with the purpose of better serving the birthing folks of C’ville.  My favorite thing about this gathering was the clear intention to work together to make hospital birth better!  Birth workers of all sorts from all corners were welcome, INCLUDING other hospitals.  We reviewed some of the hospital’s new policies, which I found to be super helpful.  Then, Laura and other nurses from L&D answered some questions from the group.  The tone was so supportive and uplifting.  It truly felt like we were all there working toward that common goal of making birth experiences better.  

A huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to Laura!  I deeply appreciate you taking initiative and providing space for these conversations to take place.  It is so exciting to know that we will continue to work together in support of beautiful births!

Making the Most of Prenatal Appointments


Oftentimes prenatal visits feel like a whirlwind. Pee in a cup. Blood pressure check. Fetal heart tones. Measure your belly. “Any questions? No? Great! See you next time.” Often after such visits, we leave the appointment feeling flustered, unheard and vaguely disoriented. I am completely certain that healthcare providers  (who worked incredibly hard to obtain their education in obstetrics and midwifery) intending to support people and couples in pregnancy and birth do not intend to leave them feeling unsure and unsettled! And yet many excellent and very caring doctors and midwives get caught up in the system. It’s not the fault of these amazing humans! The system is set up this way. They are forced to see so many patients and do so much in an incredibly limited amount of time. Because, over time, it becomes so routine for them, healthcare providers may forget that this pregnancy is certainly among the most special experiences the expectant couple may ever have.

Here’s the thing: I believe that these professionals truly want to connect with their patients. I’ve seen them in the birthing rooms. They are present. They care. They slow down and talk to their patients. So how can we ask them to bring this presence of being into their prenatal appointments? There are a few ways we can let them know how important it is to us, as their patients that they slow down and connect – and, I believe, it’s important to them as well.

It’s fine to simply say, “I’m feeling like we need to connect. Will you take a moment to talk with me?” So, that’s a great approach if you’re a person who is comfortable with that. Now, for those of us (me included!) who aren’t comfortable with being quite so direct, just ask questions. All the questions. It doesn’t actually matter if you care what the answers are. You may find, though, that once you start asking questions you do in fact care an awful lot! Less Google, more conversation with these incredibly experienced, wise, caring professionals!

The more you chat with your healthcare providers, the more comfortable you will be seeking the information through them. Sit down before each appointment and take a moment to write down a couple of open-ended questions. Your doula can help guide you in which discussions can be most helpful throughout your pregnancy. As birth support professionals, we have found that, when given an opportunity to connect, most of our wonderful local doctors and midwives really jump on it! Charlottesville is so fortunate to have so many amazing doctors and midwives and we make our choice because we believe them to be the best fit for us. Shall we give them ample opportunity to live up to our (and perhaps their own) expectations?!