Providing doula support during the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing some new challenges for birthing families and in turn, the doulas they have hired.
Across the United States, doulas are beginning to see hospitals imposing visitor limits on labor and delivery units as a result of growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus. These hospital visitor policies will have an impact on a doulas’ ability to support their clients.
Some hospitals have already implemented policies that allow only one support person to be present during birth.
Likewise, visitor policies post birth may be more strict than what doulas have seen previously.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, doulas are fielding questions from clients regarding who they will be able to have present when they give birth. These clients are being forced to choose between their mother, sister, aunt, best friend or doula.
“Will you be able to support me during my birth?”
“Are doulas still allowed to be present on labor and delivery?”
“Are doulas considered a visitor on labor and delivery or part of my birth team?”
“What if I want my mother present in addition to my partner and my doula??”
Due to these new and potential restrictions, it is important that doulas maintain a positive and mutually respectful relationship with local hospitals.
Hospital administrators are deciding whether to include doulas as part of the birth team or consider them visitors. It is important for doulas to be included in these discussions.
Now is the time for doulas to be proactive in their communities.
Reach out to the hospital administrators. Request that doulas become a part of the birth team. Excluded from the visitor count.
Fortunately, doulas have the support of the AWHONN when it comes to doula support and COVID-19.
On March 11, 2020, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses issued a public statement in support of doulas at the bedside in hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The statement reads:
As the information surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to emerge, concerns among doulas are also emerging.
“Doulas are not visitors and should not be blocked from caring for patients in the antepartum, intrapartum and postpartum period. Most doulas have been contracted by patients weeks to months ahead of time and have established provider relationships. They are recognized by AWHONN and ACOG as essential personnel and part of the maternity care team.”https://awhonn.org/novel-coronavirus-covid-19/?fbclid=IwAR3HkFFc84dpRwpziAcu16GW957L7_BCL_NeDzzSDiwY1-ldXFVpEXxmDOo#
Authored by: The ProDoula Home Team